Collaboration Guide for Indie artists in Zim
Who’s this article for?
This is for the independent/indie artist in Zimbabwe, looking to take action towards securing a long term career. It’s not going to cover everything under the sun, but hopefully enough to get you asking the right questions, and start having the important conversations earlier in your career. Invest in your intellectual property.
Quite a number of conversations have prompted me to put this piece together. The final push to get started came from a tweet I saw the night before:
This gave me a sense of urgency because it seems the general standards of operation give the feeling that it’s okay for independent artists to ignore their collaboration agreements, split sheets, digital distribution, amongst other forms of keeping the house in order.
We’ve heard the story of ‘Artist A’ getting screwed out of their song one too many times, and it usually comes down to having ignored the paperwork.
What I’m trying to achieve by putting together these resources is summed up below:
“Hey, ball’s in your court man I’m not gonna tell you what to do, I’m just gonna tell you how it works.” - Joel Zimmerman
With that said, let’s get right to it.
Before sharing all the useful resources, let’s go over some basic terms. It is worth noting that some of the terms used are interchangeable, you’ll get the hang of them as you read more. Ultimately, this is meant to serve as an open resource, so any additions, and suggestions are encouraged.
Share the love, share the knowledge, knowledge is power, peace. - Ricky Tinez
These are the typical collaboration scenarios that will be catered for by this article.
- Artist & Producer
- Multiple artists & Producer
- Multiple producers
Two halves of a song
Before we go far, it’s essential to first understand that the body of work that is a track, is split into two parts: the composition & the master recording. Defined concisely by tunecore:
A composition is a musical work, with or without lyrics, that has been created by a songwriter/composer. A sound recording, often also referred to as a “master”, is the recording of a performance of the underlying composition. This includes beats, percussion, bass, guitar, vocals, etc.
This is the legally binding document that brings all these moving parts together. You should be looking at having a collaboration agreement for every project that you work on with other artists.
It’s been explained really well by Dae Bogan on this blog post. The post also covers split sheets, which are used to “keep track of ownership percentages in a song.”
“Distribution is the act of making the score(song) publicly available and accessible – getting it to stores, selling it online” (Tobenski, 2013). Getting your music onto platforms like Youtube, Spotify, Amazon Music etc.
“Music Publishing is normally for the sheet music and compositions. This is where the writer or composer would collect his or her share of the royalties.” - excerpt from this blog post.
This is also where organisations such as ZIMURA, and South Africa’s SAMRO come into play.
ZIMURA Facebook page, seems to be their most active social media. Differrence between PRO & Music Publisher, video here
Jackie Queen’s article is the most concise one I’ve managed to find. It covers everything mentioned above, & more. Covers the process from contacting the other artist, to releasing the song, and everything between:
Victor J on collaboration approach:
My process is pretty much like this. On distrokid I usually give the producer of the beat 50% and then divide the other 50% on the vocalists. This is the usual formula but it can change from Collab to Collab. The sad thing is some artists don’t have distributors/distrokid so I can’t implement that. And many artists don’t even think about it but when these streams build up, maybe even years later people will still be playing these songs and as an artist you should be concerned with that.
Dae Bogan on The difference between a split sheet & a collaboration agreement:
Music Publishing Glossary - More definitions, put together much better than I ever could 😆