Todd Wright, CEO of SongSplits, is unassumingly building one of the most important tools to protect and serve songwriters. Music creators in most cases find themselves in collaborative situations. They spend hours crafting melodies and lyrics; or perhaps they’re working with a beatmaker or producer trying to bring excitement to a hot track. Upon a song’s completion, quite often, the business end is not properly handled. Who wrote what, and what percentage of the song does one’s contribution represent? Sometimes those passive aggressive situations turn into larger conflicts where songwriters and producers see their administrative paperwork tied-up indefinitely, or worse, they don’t get paid at all. SongSplits was formed to prevent such issues.
M.I.Q: What exactly is SongSplits?
Todd: SongSplits is a free and secure platform aiming to become the universal standard for music rights management. Our platform gives music collaborators and their teams the ability to easily create and verify their split information and agreements. With more than 250,000 users, SongSplits is revolutionizing the music business by putting the power back in the hands of the creators.
Todd, briefly tell us your background.
I had always been fascinated by songwriters, artists and their creative process. However, early in my career, I was in finance and accounting helping individuals with highly complex financial lives. This ultimately led to my starting a business management firm, Wright Business Management, in 2007 – where I began working with writers, producers and artists. I have such a passion for how hard they work to be successful in their craft. It inspires me every day to do everything I can to help them succeed.
What was the premise behind starting the company?
As a business manager, I get calls from my clients’ publishers, administrators and others saying that another writer they had collaborated with showed different splits, many times even with other writers on the work. In the past collaborators would leave the studio with a verbal agreement or something would be written down but not in a standard ledger. This led to inaccurate or incomplete information. Without this accurate and cross-verified information, licensing opportunities are lost (as songs can’t be cleared without it) and earned royalties cannot be paid to the writers unless this information is verified. There had to be a better way.
Tell us how the business is better because of SongSplits.
We provide a secure, simple-to-use platform allowing collaborators (and their managers and attorneys on a permission basis) to easily create and cross-verify their split information and agreements. With this in hand, writers will be properly compensated for their work, there will be fewer missed licensing opportunities and we will even help the publishers and administrators reduce the overhead involved in trying to organize and accept this information.
Is there an app?
Today, we are not offering an ‘app’. Too many of these get lost in the various app stores. Our platform offers a highly-secure, mobile-web interface so it can easily be used when on the run or when sitting at your desk.
The company has been around for a spell, tell us about your renovation. What enhancements have been made; and why renovate now?
Ah, the renovation. We are very excited about what we are doing now and our plans for the future. To start, we spent a great deal of time talking to the music community about what they wanted. A few things we’ve done include: 1) Writers can now give their attorneys and managers permission to view, add and modify split agreements. 2) The attorneys and managers can have their own accounts to see all of their own clients’ split agreements in one place. 3) Members can upload/store songs in their account. 4) Members will be able to time stamp their copyrights for registration purposes.
You already have 250,000 in your community of writers. How can one have access to those folks?
It’s a great question. ‘Community’ might be the most important word in that. We definitely want all of our members to see that they are part of a larger community and to be able to connect with each other. With that in mind, we have several more enhancements that will bring the entire music community together for mutual benefit. We expect to be rolling these out over the next few months, although I’ve got to be a bit tight-lipped on that for the moment.
What type of outreach is SongSplits doing to expand its brand in the music community?
Education, education, education! We feel it is vitally important to educate the songwriting community on the importance of agreeing and cross-verifying their splits in a standard ledger. You can expect to see us in several of the major university music programs. We hope to have greater involvement in the Master Sessions at the Songwriters Hall of Fame and doing the music conference runs, of course – but I strongly believe that our team of respected industry vets will do its best work in the studios, talking one-on-one with writers and producers and their teams.
Tell us about your staffing- is it music people or accountant/tech people?
Can I answer that with a ‘yes, to all of the above’? Our leadership team is built of music people. With our backgrounds in the industry, we have seen the problems first-hand. We have a strong passion for improving the lives of the songwriting community and are well-positioned for growth. That said, we have an excellent group of techies that are able to take our vision and make it come to life.
With so many people using the service, which major artists or writers have endorsed or are using the service?
We are proud of our member community as a whole but as you can imagine, we have some very talented people that use the platform including Teddy Riley, D.R.A.M., DJ Mustard, Chris Barz, Shawanna (former DTP) and Dej Loaf. As for formal endorsements, we have not asked for specific endorsements to-date although we do have an interest in working with artists, writers and producers who understand our vision and can help in further advancing the brand.