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I have written the lyrics to a song, came up with the melody and paid a composer to translate it into musical notes and create the song (with instruments). I paid for his services. Now, I want to launch it through a music distribution platform. I am responsible to decide on the royalty split. What royalty split should I consider? Thanks a lot!

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Who owns the copyright?

It’s clear that you own the copyright in the lyrics because they are solely your own work. However, the ownership of the music is less clear - your melody, the composer’s arrangement and performance. Do you own it or do they or is it a joint work?

What did you put in the contract with the composer about copyright? As an independent contractor, the composer would own the copyright in their contribution making it a joint work unless the contract provided otherwise.

If you own it, the royalties are all yours. If it’s a joint work then a) you need the other author’s permission to do this and b) the split is whatever you agree to.

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  • Thanks a lot, Dale. We don't have a contract as it was not clear from the start whether something will materialize and we will want to launch it. It was an experiment. Now, I would like to make this arrangement. The lyrics, melody and singing are mine. The composer worked on the arrangement, choosing the instruments and producing it. I paid for all his work. What should the split be then? – nb2020 Oct 13 '20 at 8:57
  • @nb2020 whatever you two agree – Dale M Oct 13 '20 at 9:08

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