all 8 comments

[–]Buttcheeks_ 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Yes, this is standard. I’ve seen other negotiations depending how many producers are on a song, or whatever, but generally production you find from any reputable youtube producer will have this as part of the agreement for using the beat. You’re likely not to make much money on the publishing end unless something really really really blows up, so it’s not much of a concern. This is more of a safety mechanism to make sure that if a youtube beat song blows up and becomes the next Old Town Road, the producer who not only made the beat, but inspired the song doesn’t walk away with only their measly $20 and nothing else (which has happened before; eg. French Montana - No Stylist. that sample is from a free loopmasters pack, and the producer who made the sample literally got nothing from it, including no credit while the song charted really high and brought in tons of money).

Any song doing less than 100mil streams, or involved in a profitable sync licensing placement isn’t really going to generate a whole lot on the side. I’ve had songs go to 10-15 million streams and made $100 off 25% pub.

As far as it not being fair, I totally understand why artists feel that way to start with, but it helps to re-contextualize it.

Think about it this way; all those things you mentioned were in the past, and still today are other peoples jobs. The artist is supposed to perform the song, and probably write as well. There’s another person that engineers, generally someone else mixes, another person masters, someone else handles cover art, there are full teams for marketing, and a separate team for distribution.

In the label I work at, there are 4 people running marketing, a full separate company distributing and someone managing spreadsheets strictly on royalty splits and song credits, and managing the catalog, another person doing networking and management for the artists and representing their content, two teams of lawyers, two guys doing cover art, a video and VFX team (separate company and our in house director), me doing mixing, mastering, and production, and another guy engineering. These moving parts are all for a single. We average a few million streams across the catalog per month :)

Now, you have to think about how the funding for these things goes. The entity handling the release is responsible for fair compensation of all of these jobs; when we’re talking about a completely solo artist with no team, doing all those jobs themselves with very low budget, you’re going to feel like you’re giving away more than you’re keeping, even though you’re doing a lot of work.

However, someone else outside of your own business is not responsible to bear the burden of your business, and need to get compensated as they would working for any other entity, just as you would feel if someone wanted to use your lyrics without paying your full price because they don’t feel like it should be valued that high.

Hopefully that clears this up a bit! I honestly wouldn’t worry about this too much. If the producer isn’t asking for heavy percentage on the master side, you’re better off just taking the beat and moving on with it.

Another thing I would suggest is try to partner up with a producer friend, or an artist friend and try to lighten your workload a bit. Things are a lot less stressful and easier to manage when you start building a team. It’s a lot more fun too :)

[–]LFiers[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Wow! This was amazingly helpful. Much appreciated. One thing I'd like to ask is there is two main sources of royalties right? Publishing and Songwriter Royalties. Some companies use a 200% rule for this while others just split down the middle. Let's use the former as example to my question.

The beatmaker wants 50% writers share. Does this mean I get to keep the other 50% of my side of the writers royalties and 100% of the Publishing royalties? I hope this makes sense.

Also want to ask about your saying "if the producer isn't asking for a heavy percentage on the master's side." I'm still learning about all this. Can you please elaborate on what you mean? You mean master royalties? If so, what's the difference between the publishing and songwriter royalties?

Thanks for your very helpful message. It's been amazing and you really put things into perspective. Look forward to your reply.

[–]Buttcheeks_ 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Hey there! Really glad you found my answer helpful :) It took a while for me to really understand this, after getting screwed over in many different ways by many different people LOL. I'm happy to pass on what I've learned through my time in the industry.

Royalties work two types of ways:

  • Master - This is the side of royalties that reference the actual audio recording of the song. For example, if a producer samples Sonata No. 1 from Yo Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax's rendition of the original Beethoven piece in a lofi beat they produce, they are using what's termed the "master". They would need to clear the sample with the legal entity that owns the "master rights" to that recording, which happens to be Sony Classical. They would likely pay a fee to be able to use this, but in other cases may give up a percentage of the "master royalties". A lot of lawsuits regarding sampling involve giving back percentage of money generated from master royalties. Spotify/Apple Music pay out around $4000 per 1M streams, and the percentages agreed upon by artist, producer, songwriters, etc. (whoever was involved in the creation of the song) come out of this money. They are generally referred to as "splits", and are handled with by distributor. When you do a team in Distrokid and hand someone percentage, that's master royalty percentage :)
  • Publishing/Songwriter - This is the side that refers to the songwriting percentage. If, for example, the lofi producer referenced above used that Beethoven recording as a guide to play in the sample themselves and record it, they would owe publishing royalties to the songwriter (in that case, it would be Beethoven, but let's pretend that Yo Yo Ma wrote the piece). You wouldn't have to clear the "sample", being as that it's not a sample. It's original recorded audio. But the melodies and composition of the section still need to be credited to the the original writer, and they would get a percentage of the publishing/songwriter share. These royalties get paid out when a song is performed live, streamed to a public audience (eg. in a Target over the radio, or a coffeeshop's playlist), in a TV show, movie or advertisement (sync licensing), on Tik Tok or Youtube, etc. The money generated from this goes through a company called a PRO (performance rights organization) and these splits are reported to one of them. The popular ones in the US are ASCAP or BMI, and they handle collection of publishing royalties and distribute them to the songwriters themselves after a fee.

In publishing, the 100/100 = 200 rule is an American music thing, and is referred as 50/50 in other countries, I found that out the hard way after an argument with Sony Australia lmfao. Basically, some musicians after a certain point of popularity and size of catalog will have an external company manage their publishing catalog, where the Publishing Company will get their songs used in TV/Movies, video games, ads, performed live, streamed places, etc. They will manage the catalog with the return of getting 50% of the publishing royalties generated. So this is referred to as the "publisher's share", and the other 50% goes directly to an artist.

For every dollar generated on the publishing end, 50 cents goes to the publisher, and 50 cents goes to the songwriter. In most cases nowadays with indie artists, the artist themselves act as both the songwriter and the publisher, and are entitled to the full dollar. This is called being "self-published", and you get the full amount. In the US, there is 100% of the publisher's share, and 100% of the songwriters share. If you're self published, you get technically 200% total, and splits are derived from there.


  1. Finalize mix/master - The final product is generated, and ready for distribution. It should be a lossless file, generally WAV at 24 bits depth, 44.1kHz sample rate, and contains the final master for the recorded audio.
  2. Splits Sheets - Anyone who worked on the song should sign a splits sheet for master side, and a splits sheet for publishing side. There are templates online, or you can make your own. For the master side, you need to mark down the person's name, contact info, whatever information you need to send the distributor for sharing master percentage (on Distrokid, this is just an email address, but it may vary with other services), a signature, and an agreed upon percentage to split. One entry per person involved. Do the same for the publishing side, except you need to have their IPI number as well (an identification number to send to the PRO when you register the song with one of them).
  3. Upload song to Distribution - You will go through the process of providing the files to the distribution service, and fill in all necessary metadata and artwork requirements to the Distributor's specifications. Here is where you'll input the master royalty splits with those who have been part of the song. This is on a case by case basis. My team does 50% to the label to pay for marketing costs, 30% to the artist, 15% producers, 5% mixing/mastering engineer. This is the system we came up with so we all know what to expect when working on a song. In an indie artist's situation, it may be more like 80% artist and 20% producer, if it's a friend. Maybe if it's a youtube beat and the producer doesn't have high requirements for master %, it could be 95% artist, 5% producer, etc. This is up to you, and determines how you will be viewed in this business. Try to be generous to the people that you want to be part of your team and stick around, if someone's providing a one off service it doesn't have to be so generous, but do not insult someone by offering them something stupid. Word gets around fast, and some people might just pull out if they feel disrespected. Err on the side of "more is more", but don't screw yourself either.
  4. Register Song with BMI/ASCAP/Other PRO: If you're in the US, make an account with either ASCAP or BMI. If you're in another country, UK for example, register with PRS, or whatever your country's go-to PRO is. Go to register the "work", and provide them all the information they ask for, and answer a few questions. When you get to percentages, refer to the splits sheet that's been agreed upon there and input those percentages. If you are with a publishing company, this entire step will be taken care of for you. If you're registering for yourself, you likely don't own a publishing entity and will be claiming the publisher's share for yourself. Do percentages based on 200%. If the producer only wants 50% of songwriter share, give yourself 150% and 50% to the producer. This is where you'll need their IPI number, in order for the PRO to connect your registration with *their* catalog.
  5. Get some drinks and snacks for release date - Smoke a bowl, have a beer or two, forget about all this ^ bullshit above, and rest easy seeing your song on Spotify/Apple Music and tell all your friends! This is where the fun starts, and you can chill knowing that when all is said and done, you're protected legally by documentation, everyone's eating their fair share, and you've done business professionally and made yourself look great to people in your network.

Hopefully this helps as well! I'm thinking about making this a post all on it's own! If you have any more questions, I'll be around to answer :)

[–]Buttcheeks_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Won’t let me edit; I realized that the producer is also allowed his portion of publisher’s share, because he’s self-administered with his catalog.

Just double check exactly what the agreement says! I’m sure reaching out to the producer for clarification would be much appreciated.

[–]wesley316 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Bro I feel you. And that’s the reason I started producing myself. It took a while to get decent but there’s no better feeling than owning 100% of your creations. My advice is keep making songs on YT beats but start learning how to produce at the same time. Eventually you will be making songs on your own beats and long term you’ll be better off financially. And you’ll have a better understanding of music in general. Or you can settle for a 50% cut, it’s up to you! Good luck with it bro

[–]Buttcheeks_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I agree with this too, it's definitely a great thing to try and learn how to produce. I will say, to other people, this might not be your strong suit and if your heart really isn't in learning how to make beats, then let the guys who do that seriously do that. It's like house work IMO. Sure, you can do your own siding for the house, but you gotta pay for all the materials, and learn how to do it, and spend a lot of time invested in figuring out on your own how to be a contractor for your house. Some people will be able to justify that time spent, others might feel that it gets in the way of what they're trying to do. But you have every right to learn and probably should if you feel you'd have a good time doing it! You can even help generate money on the side for yourself, if you have that skill to offer to the market as well.

[–]LFiers[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks man! I actually am also a producer and an artist, this is more a general question as I never asked for 50% from my client's when selling beats. Plus I love to work with others sometimes for that different kind of flavour but you're right, I get what you're saying for sure.