Is a word like "eloquence" worth the same as the word "the"? In the world of songwriting, how much is a word really worth? Maybe it is just me, but when I co-write with someone we are "all in" for equal shares of the song no matter what. What is "the best" way to split up the ownership of the songwriting share of a song? While I'm no expert at what might be "the best"...I know what works for me and over time just seems "fair". I know that there are songwriters out there that go so far as to "count words" and relate that to the percentage of ownership of the song. If the song is 100 words and I wrote 10 words...I get 10% of the "rights". But, what if my words are more "critical" or "important" words to the song? What if I just bring the "idea" for the song to the table w/ the "hook"? What then??
Sometimes "the idea" might be the most important part of the song for without the "idea", the song would have never been written! So...here is my deal: When I write with someone we all share equally in the percentage of the song. If I co-write with one other writer we are in 50/50. If there are three writers we are all in for 33 1/3. This has to be agreed going in or I just won't write with that songwriter. Here are my reasons why:
1. Over time it all comes out in the wash! This time maybe I'll have the idea and you write most of the song...but...next time it might be reversed. Each time we write a song, roles will change and over the long haul things will "even out". It is what is best for a healthy long term writing relationship. If I write with someone that I personally feel isn't pulling their "weight" with ideas, contribution, creativity, commitment...well...I just will choose not to write with them anymore. But, with quality songwriters I feel this all evens out over time.
2. It supports "the creative process". All of us are freely able to brainstorm and create, free from worrying about how much or little I'm contributing to the process. Sometimes one writer is the "idea" person and are great at "brainstorming" line ideas while the other is great at taking those "brainstorms" and crafting them into great lyrics!!! Both are important but the idea person didn't really craft the words...they fueled the great idea!! I refuse to value or devalue based on how many words a writer contributes.
3. It is just "simple". The plan is laid out ahead of time and it simplifies the process. There is no worry or arguing over who contributed the most on the song and who gets what share! Simple is good :) That being said...make sure everyone has this same understanding going in! It is not something to decide "after the fact" or it could lead to hard feelings.
To me, it is all about the "song"!!! When I agree to write a song with someone I just feel that everyone should be equal in the creative process. For me, counting words or negotiating who contributed the most, or who has the most "clout" is self destructive to a writing relationship and destructive to the creative process. Of course, that is just "me". Your mileage may vary.
Just a thought for today and remember: Write more...whine less!