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A person writing on a notebook while sitting on a bed. A person writing on a notebook while sitting on a bed.

What is a topliner?

1 min read

Understand the role a topliner plays in songwriting.

A topliner is a songwriter focusing on vocals, melodies, and lyrics.

refers to the vocal and that sit on top of an instrumental, or . So, a is a songwriter who focuses primarily on writing the vocal melody and, in most cases, the lyrics of a .

Topliners can work in many genres and are skilled at creating catchy melodies and lyrics. These are sometimes called .

Copyright ownership for topliners

Topliners and all additional songwriters, such as , , , etc., who make an contribution to the musical work are considered under . Therefore, they can all own a share of the in the musical work; it's like sharing a pie.

Agreeing and properly documenting each author's share, also called , is the first step for each author to receive a share of earnings if the musical work is used. Learn more about this in the Songwriter Splits and Registering Musical Works pages.

Topliners that have multiple creative roles

If you are a topliner, you might also have additional roles when writing or recording a musical work, in which case you might also have additional shares in the ownership of that musical work and the .

Learn more about how this works in the Recording topic. To understand authors' rights in more detail, visit the Music Creators’ Rights topic.

Image Credit: Nils Emil Nylander