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Writing Songs with Multiple Songwriters or Registrars

We get many questions about how to handle situations where more than one composer or songwriter is involved in the songwriting process.  This could be where someone wrote the lyrics and someone else wrote the music, or where several people contributed to both or either.

While this is NOT legal advice (as we are not permitted to give that out, nor can you rely on anything said or written as such), here are some useful tips that may help:

First, we always recommend that ALL those participating in the song or musical piece be included on the registration form, listed as co-composers in the "lyrics by..." and/or "music by..." boxes.

Second, since copyright registration is most useful for documenting and locking in DATES (i.e. when material is first put into physical form and submitted), it's always a good idea to have separate written agreements among contributing songwriters.

Multiple composers need protection
No written agreement on royalties = FIGHTS!

Since the composer info you provide when registering cannot be independently verified by either SongRegistration™ or the Copyright Office, a written agreement is usually the best way to handle such issues among contributors.  In other words, put something in writing!  Sign a simple agreement listing who wrote what and what everyone agrees is each person's contribution (such as 50-50, or "John Doe contributed 30% to the total song, Jane Doe contributed 25%," etc.).

It doesn't have to be real formal but, of course, everyone should sign and date the agreement and then file it away in a safe place!

That way, if there is ever a dispute among yourselves (as there often is in ANY partnership) regarding royalties or other issues related to a particular song that had more than one writer contributing, you have a written agreement to fall back on which explains it all!

Just a common sense thought to consider which certainly compliments any copyright registrations you file.  Happy songwriting!

For more tips on songwriting, go to our Blog or Facebook page (linked at the bottom of our pages).

- nothing herein is to be construed as legal advice; always check with an attorney before relying on legal information -

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