Getting into clinches with fellow writers, bandmates or external collaborators over royalties can produce nightmarish outcomes. Especially if a lot of pressure is laid upon a certain release, struggles on this level can really take the wind out of a campaign.
To make sure things don’t even get this far, we created a list of pointers to be aware of. Things that you address prior to engaging in a session, or at the latest right after finishing a collaborative work.
So here’s some food for thought on avoiding rumble in the royalty jungle.
Better break first
The lightweight vibes of writing sessions should always be number one priority. Obviously.
Still, you should think about setting at least a minor contractual framework or verbal conditions prior to engaging in an intensive writing session.
The more opinions are out there – even if they are divergent in nature – the less pain later contractual processes might imply. You’re playing with an open hand, so to speak.
And yes, on a DIY level that might get weird, but if the relationship is professional and/or solid, it will bear the weight of initial discussions.
Be aware of diverging models
The conduct of distribution, buy-outs and points vary greatly from country to country. There are large differences between American ways of dealing with songwriting royalty and German, for example.
Make sure there are little to no intercultural misunderstandings. Do your homework and educate yourself. Especially if you are collaborating with individuals that were socialized in a different, creative environment.
And remember – different doesn’t mean bad or sub-par. There’s a reason why certain countries have certain ways of dealing with things. Try to respect that, try not to get offended by these opposing views.
Reality is – you might even catch your significant, musical other off balance. So be delicate in the way you communicate your own demands.
The moral mule
If you’re lucky enough to work with a capable management outfit, chances are high that they will be willing and able to debate any royalty claims you hope to enforce.
It might not always be the best way, though, to use management as a sort of moral mule, someone between you and the wilderness of royalty distribution. Again, this is an educational process. The more you know about industry standards, about how rights are distributed, what’s fair and what’s
not fair, the better you will be able to asses a given situation. Especially growing as an artist, you have to be on top of your publishing game. Otherwise you face the danger of external control, exploitation, and sometimes just plain stupidity.
Give and take
There’s way more to navigating through the perks and dangers of royalty negotiation than monetary value.
Oftentimes, there are soft-values that are easily overseen, like the way your demanding nature can influence the course of a potential relationship. Even if the big levers and gears of the music industry are most definitely accelerated by capital, there are factors that can lead to – or possibly hinder – future growth of a project or artist.
Sometimes asking for less can actually lead to getting more. Humility is a noble trait, especially if you’re dealing with seasoned pros. This doesn’t mean that you should refrain from demanding a fair piece of the pie.
But try to think relationships first. Build them, maintain them, and in most cases, the monetary side will grow organically.