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What are sound recording splits?

3 min read

Exploring what recording splits are, and how they're divided.

Splits are how ownership, rights and payments are divided when there is more than one owner of the sound recording.

Note that the described here are specific to and not . You can find more information about songwriter splits in the Songwriter topic.

A quick note on terminology

The terms splits and are often used throughout the industry to talk about how to divide both the ownership of a sound recording between different and the income from its commercial use. In general, we use the term splits throughout to cover both uses, but practice may vary in different contexts and different markets.

What are sound recording splits?

Sound recording splits are the percentage shares of and income generated by the sound recording that each and receives. This includes and other income.

Sound recording splits can vary based on many factors, such as who owns the recording, who is the main or secondary , the applicable country's copyright law, the terms of the agreements between all the parties involved in the sound recording, and which rights are managed by and what their respective rules are.

Owners of the sound recording, such as or , own the in that sound recording and hence will receive their share or split of any income generated for the .

The performers involved in the sound recording will typically receive royalties for their and thus a share of the income generated from uses of the sound recording.

You can learn more about rights and how royalties are generated for these in our Getting Credited and Paid topic.

There is no standard guideline for how sound recording income or royalties are split. CMOs often have default rules, sometimes set by law. These rules differ from one country to another. Agreements in place between the record label and the artists or other performers can also determine what splits are applied.

For more information about record labels, check out the Record labels page.

If you are an creating your own sound recordings, also known as a DIY artist, then you usually own all of the sound recording rights, and hence all income, in addition to some or all of the performer’s share, unless you agreed to share some of this with any other collaborators.

As a DIY artist, you will also be responsible for all the other activities a record label might typically carry out for their artists, such as clearing all rights from and , manufacturing and distributing both physical and digital formats, promoting, marketing, and your sound recordings for use in films, TV shows, and commercials, and more.

Look up our topics on Distribution and Marketing, Music Creators’ Rights, Rights Transfer and Licensing, and Scope of Protection to dive deeper.


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Video Credit: Amin Santosh, Parapix