Monday, June 2, 2014
If Lyrics Are Added Later ...
Are you joint authors of the musical work? As for the version of the song with the lyrics, you can register this as a jointly-authored work provided that each of you prepared your contribution with the intention that it would be eventually combined (into a single song). Even if the composer didn't know you at the time of writing the instrumental, it can still qualify as a jointly authored work if the composer had always intended that words would be added. In that case, you can register the song as a jointly-authored musical composition. The law presumes that your shares are equal but its best to memorialize that arrangement with a collaboration agreement. Otherwise, confusion may occur.
If the composer did not originally intend to add lyrics ... In that case you can register the words and music as a musical composition as a derivative version of the original instrumental and list yourself as a co-owner (assuming composer assigns you a 50% ownersip interest).
P.S. Thanks for using Getting Permission, but we think Music Law might provide more help.