What is a music publisher? Why do I need one?
Musicians wear a lot of hats in their careers. They can be mixing and mastering engineers, producers, agents, and many other things. One hat a musician can wear (but may struggle) alone is collect royalties when their track is played or performed and manage licensing deals.
When a songwriter’s music is played, the person, club, or business is paying a fee to play that track; therefore, money is generated for both the songwriters and master recording owners. The Balance states that the easiest way to understand a music publisher is to “Picture them as record labels for songwriters. Music publishing companies share many of the same goals for their songwriters that record labels have for the artists on their rosters.”
What does the music publisher do for the songwriter?
When a film, advertisement, etc, needs music, the music publisher may act as an agent to work out a deal for their songwriters to write the music for that film. They may actively promote the songwriter’s music for the aforementioned films and advertisements to land them placements, deals, and revenue for the songwriters. When the songwriter’s song is placed within a film (or new music is composed), then the music publisher will collect the licensing fees, which is called the administration of a song.
Music publishing companies all operate differently. Some of them are very involved with their clients and a some aren’t. It really depends on the publisher. The Balance highlights the various types of music publishers.
The music publishers that are more involved are can be actively engaged in the various projects that their songwriters’ music is in. These are the publishers that are continually searching for placements and opportunities for their songwriters. The publishers that aren’t as involved may just buy a percentage of the royalties and collect their portion of the royalties, while the songwriter seeks out the opportunities.
How does a music publisher earn revenue?
Generally, the publisher will take 50% of the money that’s made on the music that’s in their catalog. There are a few ways that publishers can earn revenue, though. This isn’t always an easy process, however, because each situation is unique. For example, the publisher may have to split a royalty stream with the master recording owner. This can sometimes cause conflict between the two because they may not get along. Plus, who likes to share their hard-earned money?
Why do musicians and songwriters need a music publisher?
You want to get paid for your songwriting, don’t you? If you said “yes” to that, then you should consider a music publisher. This will allow you to focus on creating the music and worrying less about if you’re earning money on the music you’re writing.
When your music starts gaining traction, it’s best to get help from an attorney to start working out the best deal for you and a music publisher. Music publishing can become very advanced, and signing the wrong music publishing deal can deter your career immensely, which is why it’s best to seek legal advice when you want to work with a music publisher.