Song Co-Writer Agreement Checklist


If you’re a songwriter teaming up with another person or several people to write songs, then there are a number of issues around ownership of the copyright in the songs you should set out clearly in a Co-Writer Agreement.

The most important thing to think about is what share of the copyright each writer will have and what rights each co-writer has in terms of releasing, distributing and otherwise exploiting the song(s). Answering the questions in the checklist below will help get you started on a Co-Writer Agreement. If you can’t answer certain questions, you’ll probably need legal advice, so just put ‘I don’t know’ or get in touch!

1. Writers

A. Who are the co-writers?
B. Are any of the co-writers 'signed' with a publisher?
C. Are there any approvals a co-writer may need prior to entering the co-writer agreement?

2. Ownership

A. What share of co-written Songs will each co-writer own?
B. How and when will ownership be decided (e.g. will the fall-back position be that Songs will be owned equally)?
C. How will ownership be documented (e.g. a table of ownership attached to the co-writer agreement with each Song name and each co-writer's share set out)?
D. Is any part of any Song already existing? If so, who owns/will own that part of the Song?
E. What is the name of each Song that has been co-written?

3. Rights in the Songs

A. Will either co-writer have any exclusive rights in any Song? If so, for how long? (Consider whether either co-writer has exclusive rights to record and release the song, an exclusive right to licence the song, or the exclusive right to use the lyrics separately from the song.)
B. Who will own any master/demo recordings of the Songs?

4.Obligations and Approvals

A. Who will register the Songs with APRA?
B. Will approval of any or all co-writers be required prior to use and licensing of any Song, or will one co-writer have complete control?
C. Who will be entitled to engage arrangers, producers, translators, remixers or additional writers? How may this affect ownership of a Song and entitlements to income from the Song (e.g. will the new writer be an owner of the Song and if so whose ownership share will be reduced)?

5. Payment, Costs and Accounting

A. Who will be responsible for collecting money earned from the Songs and keeping records in relation to such earnings?
B. When does payment to the other co-writer(s) need to be paid (e.g. X days after money is received)?
C. Who is responsible for costs/fees (if any) relating to the writing and exploitation of the Songs?

6. Credit and Promotion

A. What credit will be given to each co-writer, and when and where will the credit be given?
B. Can any co-writer use the name and image of the other co-writer(s) to promote the Songs?

7. Special Conditions

A. Are there any special conditions that apply to this co-writer arrangement?

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