Chapter 10:What is music publishing?

When it comes to fully understanding the concept of music publishing, many people tend to fall at the final hurdle. However, it is a concept that is not hard to follow and can make life very lucrative for the artist. Music publishing is a process that is about doing that one thing that every artist aims for: making money.

As established in the previous chapter, once you have registered with bodies such as PRS and PPL, you then become entitled to receive royalty payments whenever your song is used. Whether the track is used in a performance, on television, over the radio or even a film, the royalty will rightfully go the person who created the track.

A music publisher works alongside a songwriter, composer or copyright owner of a track in order to escalate just how many times their track is used by an external party. Usually laden with contacts, a publisher will know just how to get songs recognised and used in order to generate healthy royalties that are paid out directly to the owner of the composer or songwriter.

Acting as the middle man between those who may want to use the track and the artist themselves, the music publisher will know ways to get maximum play in order to generate maximum revenue for the composer; their job is to promote until they are blue in the face in order to get the track maximum exposure.

Once the publisher has managed to secure use of the song, they are then entitled to a cut of the royalties in a commission type setup for getting you the exposure in the first place. It is very possible to go through the music publishing role yourself, however, as with practicing the PR side of things on your own, don’t expect to have anywhere near the same level of contacts as a publisher does; they spend years building up and nurturing their contact list in order to push out tracks to record labels, ad agencies and anybody who may be interested in the music that they currently have on their books.

If you opt to work with a music publisher, as per industry standard a contract will be drawn up between the two parties; a fee will be agreed as to what the publisher gets if the track is published. In the main, publishers tend to ask for a 30% fee, splitting the revenue 30/70 with the artist.

Whilst self publishing is one of the hardest tasks that you will come across as an artist, it is not impossible but you do have to know what you are doing. Essentially, you will need to market yourself as a separate publishing entity and it is vital that you register with a performance rights organisation in order to get paid for any airtime that your music gets.

You can also sell physical and digital copies of your music to third parties and market these via your social media and networking avenues; remember, most people will know that you are a musician, so keep them updated that you are also your own publisher.

It is worthwhile to note that whilst you may not get as much music published as a publisher could manage for you, if you do make money on your own then the money that you do make won’t have to be split, which could result in you being better off in the long run, depending on how many times you manage to have your material published.

DIY Tip: Try and maintain two separate businesses when it comes to trying to get your work published; when you are working in a publishing role you need to maintain that mentality. It is very easy to take things personally when people don’t want to use your music, but don’t let your publishing persona slip and simply move onto somebody else.

Every time you make new tracks, inform people and send them digital samples; if you aren’t constantly pushing your music to the front of the queue, you run the risk of being overlooked and not being published.