What Is an Exclusive Songwriter Agreement?

Also known as a "staff writer" contract.

Under an exclusive songwriter agreement, or “staff writer” contract, the songwriter agrees to assign the entire publisher’s share of everything written during a set period to one publishing company. In exchange, the publisher provides the songwriter with a weekly, monthly, or quarterly payment. Unlike a stipend or salary, this advance is recouped from the future royalties of the songwriter, making it more like a co-publishing or administration deal. 

Artists often feel more financially secure and able to focus on their actual music with exclusive songwriter agreements. (The publisher also performs administrative and creative duties for the writer’s catalog within the agreement.)

This type of deal is usually offered to writers with a demonstrable level of success; that way the publisher can feel confident about receiving a return on their investment.

Check out an ASCAP essay about songwriter and music publisher agreements here.


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