Music Publishing Explained: Copyright, Royalties, Contracts & Licensing

music publishing explained

In the complex world of the music industry, few realms are as vital—yet mystifying—as music publishing. It’s a sector that might not get the glamour and glitz of live gigs or record releases, but make no mistake: understanding music publishing can be the linchpin of a successful music career.

From the cryptic contract clauses to the mind-bending calculations behind royalties, music publishing is the machinery that turns your creative spark into cold, hard cash. But where do you start? How do you navigate the jargon, the contracts, and the ever-changing landscape of this complex industry?

We’re going to take you on a deep dive into everything there is to know about music publishing. We’ll cover its history, its evolution through the digital age, and even decode those legalese-laden contracts. And for those with stars in their eyes, we’ll guide you through the steps to secure that elusive publishing deal.

The Evolution of Music Publishing

The Origins of Music Publishing

In the golden yesteryears, before Spotify playlists and YouTube channels, music publishing was a simple affair. Composers penned their melodies, and publishers produced sheet music to be sold in music shops. It was the primary way musicians made a living, and it set the stage for the complex ecosystem we see today.

How Publishing Has Changed

Fast-forward to the digital age, and the realm of music publishing has expanded into a multifaceted industry. Gone are the days of straightforward sheet music sales; in their place, we find a web of digital platforms, sync licensing, and multiple types of royalties. The evolution of technology has not only changed how we consume music but also how artists earn from it. And within this modern labyrinth, the role of a music publisher has never been more critical.

Understanding the Basics

What Is Music Publishing?

At its essence, music publishing is the business of protecting and monetising compositions. It’s not about the recordings themselves but the underlying music and lyrics. When you write a song, you’re not just creating art; you’re creating intellectual property. And just like any property, it needs to be managed, protected, and most importantly, monetised.

How Royalties Work

Royalties are the lifeblood of music publishing—the recurring income that makes your artistic venture sustainable. These payments come in different shapes and sizes, from performance and mechanical royalties to sync fees. Each one has its own set of rules, distribution channels, and collection methods, making the role of a music publisher crucial in navigating this intricate terrain.

Writer’s Share vs. Publisher’s Share

Before diving into the types of royalties, it’s essential to understand how these royalties are initially divided. When a song is created, it inherently has two equal shares of royalties: the writer’s share and the publisher’s share, each making up 50% of the composition.

  • Role of the Publisher: The publisher’s primary job is to collect and maximise the publisher’s share on behalf of the songwriter, usually in exchange for a percentage of those royalties. Without a publisher or a self-established publishing company, songwriters only receive the writer’s share—50% of their royalties.
  • Self-Publishing: Solutions from both Performance Rights Organisations (PROs) and Mechanical Rights Organisations (MROs) make it easy for songwriters to self-publish, allowing them to keep 100% of the publisher’s share unless they opt for a full-publishing deal.

Let’s break down the different types of royalties so you know exactly where your money’s coming from and how to get more of it.

Performance Royalties

Definition and Eligibility

Performance royalties are generated when your music is played in public. This can include radio airplay, live concerts, and even streaming services. If your music is being heard by the public, you’re likely eligible for these royalties.

Collection Methods

In the UK, PRS for Music is responsible for collecting performance royalties. They have relationships with venues, radio stations, and other public platforms where music is played, and they collect fees that are then distributed to songwriters.

Distribution Channels

Performance royalties come from various channels, including terrestrial radio, online radio, live performances, and streaming services. Each has its own rate and method of distribution, so understanding these channels can help you focus your promotional efforts for maximum royalty collection.

Mechanical Royalties

Definition and Eligibility

Mechanical royalties are earned when your music is reproduced in some form, such as CDs, digital downloads, or streaming. If your music is being duplicated and sold, you are eligible for mechanical royalties.

Collection Methods

Mechanical royalties in the UK are typically collected by the MCPS. They license the rights for music reproduction and pay the collected fees to the songwriters.

Rate Calculation

Mechanical royalty rates can vary but are usually calculated based on the number of copies made or the number of times the song is streamed. It’s crucial to understand these rates to gauge your potential earnings accurately.

Sync Fees

Definition and Eligibility

Sync fees are one-time payments made for the right to use your music in a specific context, such as a TV show, commercial, or film.

Typical Scenarios

Sync fees come into play in a variety of scenarios, including advertisements, movies, TV series, and even video games. The payment is usually negotiated and can vary widely based on the prominence of the usage.

Negotiating Sync Deals

Securing a favourable sync deal requires negotiation skills and an understanding of your music’s market value. It’s often beneficial to consult with a music lawyer or experienced publisher during these negotiations.

Print Music Royalties

Definition and Eligibility

These royalties are generated from the sale of physical sheet music and music books. If your compositions are being printed in these formats, you are eligible for these royalties.

Collection and Distribution

Print music royalties are generally collected by the publisher who has printed the music and then distributed to the songwriter based on the agreed-upon rate.

Special Use Licences

Definition and Scenarios

Special use licences are required for specific use cases like karaoke machines, jukeboxes, or in-flight entertainment systems. These are unique situations where standard licensing doesn’t apply.

Rate Determination

The rates for special use licences are often negotiated on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like the potential audience size and the length of usage.

The Role of Music Publishers

Functions of a Music Publisher

Think of a music publisher as your career’s strategic planner. They are responsible for the administration, promotion, and exploitation of your musical compositions. From securing sync deals that get your songs in films and adverts to administering royalty collections, a music publisher is your one-stop-shop for monetising your music.

How Publishers Work

At the operational level, publishers can be likened to detectives with a knack for sniffing out opportunities. They pitch your songs to recording artists, liaise with record labels, and negotiate licensing deals. They also track performances and usage of your songs to ensure you’re getting the royalties you’re due.

Independent vs Major Publishers

The world of music publishing is broadly divided into independent and major publishers. Independent publishers offer a more personalised touch but may lack extensive networks. Major publishers come with a vast reach but may not provide the same level of individual attention. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you make an informed decision.

Key Associations and Entities

UK Associations

In the UK, organisations like the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) play pivotal roles. They are responsible for collecting and distributing royalties, advocating for artists’ rights, and serving as a liaison between songwriters, composers, and publishers.

USA Associations

Across the pond, American entities like the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) perform similar functions. They collect royalties from various sources, including radio, television, and live performances, and distribute them to the rightful owners.

International Associations

On a global scale, there are organisations like the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) that aim to protect the rights and promote the interests of creators worldwide. Knowing which organisations operate in your country can be a stepping stone in understanding how to manage your music rights internationally.

Music Publishing Contracts

Importance of Contracts

In the world of music publishing, contracts are the legal backbone that holds everything together. These documents outline the terms of your relationship with the publisher, detailing everything from royalty splits to the geographical scope of the agreement.

Types of Publishing Deals

Understanding the types of publishing deals available is crucial for making informed decisions. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types:

  • Traditional Publishing Deal: In this setup, the publisher acquires the rights to a songwriter’s existing and future works. Royalties are usually split 50/50 after the publisher’s expenses are recouped.
  • Co-Publishing Deal: In this arrangement, the songwriter retains 50% of the publishing rights in addition to their inherent 50% writer’s share. This means the songwriter would effectively receive 75% of the total royalties, while the co-publisher would get the remaining 25%. Both parties share the responsibility for exploiting the song and collecting royalties.
  • Administration Deal: Here, the songwriter retains all publishing rights. The publisher takes on the role of administering the song, usually taking a 10-20% cut of the royalties.
  • Sub-Publishing Deal: These are international agreements where a domestic publisher partners with a foreign publisher to exploit the song in a foreign market.
  • Single-Song Contract: This contract is limited to one specific song, unlike traditional or co-publishing deals that may cover multiple songs or entire catalogues.
  • Catalogue Purchase: In this deal, the publisher acquires an entire catalogue of songs for a lump sum payment.
  • Work-for-Hire: This is a unique type where the songwriter is commissioned to create a specific work, typically for a film or advertisement. The commissioning entity usually owns the publishing rights.
  • 360 Deal: These complex deals often encompass various revenue streams, including publishing, recording, merchandise, and even touring.

Breaking Down Music Publishing Contracts

Understanding a music publishing contract can be daunting, but knowing what each section means can empower you. Below, we’ll dissect the most critical components of these contracts.

Understanding the copyright section in a music publishing contract is pivotal, as it sets the legal framework for your intellectual property. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Types of Copyright in Music: There are two main types of copyright relevant to musicians: composition copyright and sound recording copyright. In music publishing, it’s the composition copyright that’s often in focus.
  • How Copyright is Established: The moment you jot down those lyrics or record that melody, you establish copyright. However, registering the work can offer added layers of legal protection.
  • Transferring Copyright: When you sign a music publishing contract, you often transfer certain rights to the publisher. This can either be an assignment, where ownership is transferred, or a license, where you maintain ownership but give the publisher specific rights to use your work.
  • Duration of Copyright: Copyright doesn’t last forever. Knowing the lifespan of your copyright can help you understand when rights revert back to you. In the UK, copyright for compositions lasts for 70 years after the death of the author.
  • Copyright Infringement: This is the unlawful use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner. Publishers often have legal teams to deal with such infringements, making them another line of defence for your intellectual property.

Term and Territory

Navigating the term and territory clauses in a music publishing contract can often feel like traversing a legal minefield, but it’s crucial for setting the boundaries of your agreement. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Definition of Term: This specifies the duration for which the publisher will hold the rights to your music. It might be a set number of years, or it could be tied to the lifespan of the copyright.
  • Rolling vs Fixed Term: Some contracts have a rolling term that automatically renews unless terminated by either party. Others have a fixed term that ends on a specific date.
  • Exclusivity Period: Some contracts include an exclusivity period during which you can’t license your music to anyone else.
  • Out Clause: This is an option to exit the contract under specific conditions. Knowing if and how you can activate an out clause is vital.
  • Territorial Rights: This outlines the geographical regions where the publisher can exploit your music. It could be limited to certain countries or be global.

Royalty Splits

Deciphering how royalties are divided between you and the publisher is a cornerstone of any music publishing contract. Here’s what you need to understand:

  • Types of Royalties: Familiarise yourself with the various types of royalties you might earn, such as mechanical, performance, and sync royalties, to understand what share you’ll get from each.
  • Percentage Splits: The contract will specify how these royalties are split between the songwriter and the publisher. Standard industry splits might apply, but these are negotiable.
  • Recoupment: If you’ve received an advance, understand how the publisher will recoup this amount from your future royalties.
  • Minimum Guarantees: Some contracts include minimum royalty guarantees, ensuring that you earn a specified amount regardless of how your music performs.
  • Audit Clause: This allows you or a representative to examine the publisher’s books to ensure accurate royalty payments. Know the conditions and frequency with which you can exercise this right.

Advances

The allure of upfront money can be tempting, but understanding the nuances of advances in a music publishing contract is crucial. Here’s what you should know:

  • Definition of an Advance: Essentially, an advance is a pre-payment against future royalties. It provides immediate financial support but comes with its own set of conditions.
  • Recoupable vs Non-Recoupable: Most advances are recoupable, meaning the publisher will reclaim this money from your future earnings. Rarely, some might be non-recoupable.
  • Milestone Payments: Some advances are paid in milestones, either based on time or on achieving specific targets like streams or sales.
  • Impact on Royalties: Understand how receiving an advance affects your royalty payments. Until the advance is recouped, you typically won’t receive additional royalty payments.
  • Reversion Clause: In some cases, failure to recoup the advance within a certain period may lead to reversion of rights back to the songwriter. Know if such a clause exists and its implications.

Reversion Rights

Understanding reversion rights is a crucial aspect of any music publishing contract. It determines when and how the ownership of your compositions will revert back to you. Here’s what you should focus on:

  • Definition of Reversion Rights: This clause outlines the conditions under which the rights to your music return to you, either partially or fully.
  • Time-Based Reversion: Some contracts specify a set period after which rights automatically revert to the songwriter.
  • Performance-Based Reversion: In other cases, reversion might be tied to specific performance metrics, like sales or streams, not being met.
  • Process for Reversion: Know the procedures you must follow to reclaim your rights, which might involve formal notifications and possibly legal processes.
  • Post-Termination Rights: Even after reversion, some contracts allow publishers to continue exploiting your music for a time, based on their prior investment.

Red Flags and What to Watch Out For

Navigating a music publishing contract is much like walking a tightrope. One wrong step, one overlooked clause, and you could find yourself entangled in a web of legal and financial woes. While music publishers often serve as valuable partners in monetising your craft, not all contracts are created equal. In this section, we shed light on the potential pitfalls that could lurk in the fine print, giving you the tools to sidestep trouble and secure a deal that’s as harmonious as your best track.

  • Unclear Language and Ambiguities: In the legal world, words matter. Unclear or ambiguous language can open the door to disputes and misunderstandings down the line. If you encounter terms or phrases you don’t understand, consult with a legal advisor to clarify their meaning. Even better, request that the contract be revised for clarity.
  • Unfair Royalty Splits and Financial Terms: While it’s normal for a publisher to take a percentage of your royalties, an unfair split can leave you with a pittance. Scrutinise the financial terms carefully. Are you getting a fair share based on industry standards? If something seems off-kilter, don’t hesitate to negotiate.
  • Long-Term and Inflexible Commitments: Lengthy contractual obligations can lock you into a relationship that might not serve your interests in the long run. Check for options to terminate or renegotiate the contract and be cautious of auto-renewal clauses that could extend your commitment without explicit consent.
  • Limitations on Creative Control and Freedom: A music publishing deal shouldn’t shackle your creativity. Look out for clauses that grant the publisher excessive control over your future works, such as approval rights on new compositions or limitations on the genres you can explore.
  • Hidden Costs and Administrative Fees: While it’s common for publishers to deduct certain costs, some contracts include hidden fees for services you assumed were part of the deal. This could be anything from administrative charges to costs for legal services. Make sure these fees are clearly spelled out and understood.

How to Get a Publishing Deal

Aspiring to land a music publishing deal is one thing; actually securing it is another. This section aims to demystify the process, offering you a roadmap to go from unsigned talent to a songwriter with a lucrative publishing agreement.

Preparation Is Key

Building Your Portfolio

Your portfolio is your musical CV. It should be a collection of your best work, demonstrating your skills, versatility, and unique voice as a songwriter. It’s not just about quantity but quality. Pick compositions that represent you at your creative best.

Professional Demos

A well-produced demo can make all the difference when trying to grab a publisher’s attention. Invest in professional recording equipment or studio time. Your demos should sound as close to a final product as possible, highlighting not just your songwriting but also the potential for a polished end result.

Before approaching publishers, make sure you have the legal aspects sorted. Ensure you have all necessary permissions if your portfolio includes co-written songs or samples. Register your works to establish official copyright, offering you legal protection.

Research Potential Publishers

Genre Alignment

One size doesn’t fit all in the world of music publishing. Different publishers have different specialities, often focusing on specific genres. Research to find a publisher that aligns with your musical style, as they’ll have the right contacts and expertise to properly promote your work.

Reputation and Reliability

A publisher’s track record can tell you a lot about what to expect from the partnership. Look for testimonials, case studies, or any red flags online. A reputable publisher can offer not just financial benefits, but also valuable music industry mentorship.

Publisher Size

Big isn’t always better. While large publishers offer extensive networks and resources, they might not provide the personalised attention a smaller publisher could. On the flip side, a smaller publisher might have fewer resources but more time to focus on your career. Weigh the pros and cons based on your specific needs and career stage.

Networking and Industry Contacts

Industry Events

Events like music conferences, songwriter workshops, and industry seminars are goldmines for networking. These settings offer the chance to meet publishers, A&R reps, and other songwriters who can provide valuable introductions. Bring along business cards and demos, and don’t be shy about striking up conversations.

Online Networking

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and industry-specific forums can also serve as networking hubs. Follow key players in the music publishing world, join relevant groups, and engage in conversations. You can reach out to professionals with a well-crafted message that introduces yourself and your work.

Cold Outreach

Sometimes, you’ll need to take the initiative and reach out to potential contacts yourself. This could be via email or even a phone call. Cold outreach can be intimidating, but if done right, it can be an effective way to get your foot in the door. Make sure to personalize your communications and have a compelling reason for the outreach.

Submitting Your Work

Submission Guidelines

Each publisher will have their own set of submission guidelines. This could range from requiring a full demo to accepting just sheet music or lyrics. Some might have an online portal for submissions, while others prefer email. Whichever the method, ensure you follow their guidelines meticulously to improve your chances of being considered.

First Impressions

The way you package your submission can set the tone for how it’s received. Include a well-crafted cover letter and ensure that any digital files are appropriately named and formatted. If submitting a demo, invest in professional packaging to make a good first impression.

Follow-Up

After you’ve made your submission, a timely and polite follow-up can keep your work on the publisher’s radar. However, avoid being overly persistent, as this could have the opposite effect. A single follow-up email or call a couple of weeks after submission is generally considered acceptable.

Self-Publishing and Collecting Royalties Independently

In an industry that’s increasingly open to DIY approaches, self-publishing has become a viable route for many songwriters. This section aims to guide you through the intricacies of taking the reins on your own publishing and royalty collection.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Going the self-publishing route is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you get total control of your creative work; on the other, you’re stepping into an administrative maze. Here’s a closer look at both sides of the coin:

Pros

  • Greater Creative Control: Without a traditional publisher, you’re the boss of your own work. There’s no outside entity dictating changes or owning a share of your copyrights.
  • Higher Royalty Rates: When you cut out the middleman, the lion’s share of the royalties goes directly to you. This could mean more money in your pocket, provided you manage your publishing effectively.
  • Direct Licensing Opportunities: You have the freedom to directly negotiate licensing deals, allowing for more flexible terms and potentially higher fees.

Cons

  • Increased Administrative Work: All the tasks traditionally handled by a publisher—like registering copyrights, tracking royalties, and negotiating licenses—fall on your shoulders.
  • Lack of Industry Contacts: Publishers have established networks within the music industry that can be invaluable for promotional and licensing opportunities. Going it alone means building these networks from scratch.
  • Legal Responsibilities: Without the guidance of an experienced publisher, you’re responsible for understanding and navigating the legal complexities of contracts, licenses, and copyright law.

Setting Up Your Own Publishing Entity

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that self-publishing is the route for you, the next step is to set up your own publishing entity. This is more than just a name; it’s a legal structure that will govern your business dealings. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Business Structure: Decide what kind of business structure best suits your needs. Options commonly used by independent publishers include sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs).
  • Registration: Register your chosen business name and structure with the appropriate governmental bodies. In the UK, this will likely involve Companies House and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
  • Tax Considerations: As a business entity, you’ll have to manage tax obligations, including income tax and VAT. Consider hiring an accountant familiar with the music industry to guide you through this complex terrain.

Affiliating with Performance Rights Organisations (PROs)

  • Why It’s Important: While you’re responsible for your own publishing, affiliating with a Performing Rights Organisation like PRS for Music can help you collect royalties from public performances of your work.
  • How to Affiliate: The process generally involves filling out an application and paying a nominal fee. Once affiliated, you’ll need to register your works to start collecting royalties.
  • Advantages: Affiliation provides you with a framework for collecting performance royalties and can offer legal support and advocacy, as these organisations represent the interests of songwriters and publishers at a larger scale.

Managing Mechanical Royalties

If you’ve ever wondered where the money comes from when your song is streamed a million times or featured on a compilation album, then you’re thinking about mechanical royalties. Even in the self-publishing realm, there are entities designed to help you collect these. Here’s how to navigate them:

Mechanical Licensing Agencies
  • What They Do: Mechanical licensing agencies are the intermediaries between songwriters and entities that reproduce their music, like record labels and digital platforms. They issue licenses, collect fees, and distribute royalties.
  • How to Engage: You can work with agencies such as the MCPS in the UK by becoming a member or client. This usually involves an application process and potentially some fees. Once you’re registered, the agency will handle the licensing and collection of mechanical royalties on your behalf.
  • Why Use Them: These agencies have existing relationships with many music users, making it easier and more efficient for you to collect your mechanical royalties. They also have the legal expertise to handle complex licensing agreements.
Digital Aggregators
  • What They Are: Digital aggregators are companies that distribute music to various digital and streaming platforms on behalf of independent artists and labels.
  • How to Engage: You’ll need to choose a digital aggregator that suits your needs, which often involves comparing fees, distribution channels, and additional services like marketing support. Once selected, you upload your music, and they distribute it to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
  • Why Use Them: Beyond distribution, many digital aggregators offer additional services like analytics, marketing support, and mechanical royalty collection. They have existing relationships with streaming platforms, making it easier for you to get your music out there and collect the associated royalties.

Navigating Sync Deals

Landing a sync deal can be a game-changer, not just in terms of revenue but also in getting your music heard by a wider audience. But navigating this terrain can be tricky. Here’s what you need to know:

Direct Licensing
  • What It Is: Direct licensing involves negotiating a sync deal yourself, without the intermediary of a traditional publisher or sync agent.
  • How to Do It: Research and reach out to music supervisors or the production companies who are looking for music. This usually involves sending a pitch email along with samples of your work.
  • Considerations: Direct licensing allows for more flexible terms and potentially higher fees. However, it also means you’ll need to handle all the contractual and legal aspects yourself, which can be complex.
Pricing and Contracts
  • Setting the Fee: The sync fee is often negotiated and can vary widely. Factors like the prominence of the music within the project, the project’s budget, and your own track record can influence the fee.
  • Contractual Elements: Beyond the fee, contracts for sync deals cover other terms like the duration of the license, territorial restrictions, and whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive.
  • Legal Support: Given the complexity of sync contracts, it’s often advisable to consult with a music lawyer to review the terms. This ensures you’re getting a fair deal and aren’t overlooking any potential pitfalls.

Tools and Resources for Independent Collection

Navigating the world of self-publishing and independent royalty collection can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are a variety of tools and resources designed to simplify the process. Here’s a curated list to help you manage your publishing venture more effectively.

Software and Platforms
  • Accounting Software: Programs like QuickBooks or FreshBooks offer royalty-specific features that help you manage and track income streams with ease.
  • Rights Management Systems: Companies like Songtrust or Kobalt offer platforms where you can manage rights, track deals, and even handle aspects of royalty collection.
  • Analytics Tools: Services like Chartmetric or Next Big Sound provide deep insights into your music’s performance across platforms, aiding in strategic decision-making.
  • Distribution Platforms: DistroKid and TuneCore are popular choices for distributing your music to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, and they also help with royalty collection.
Industry Resources
  • Books: Comprehensive guides like “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald S. Passman are invaluable for understanding the intricacies of publishing and royalties.
  • Courses: Websites like Coursera and MasterClass offer courses focused on music business and publishing, taught by industry experts.
  • Websites and Blogs: Music Business Worldwide and The Balance Careers are reliable sources for staying updated on industry trends and best practices.
  • Forums and Communities: Platforms like Reddit’s r/musicbusiness or DIY Musician communities on Facebook are excellent for networking and sharing experiences with other independent publishers and musicians.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In the world of music publishing, questions abound—especially for those new to the game. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common queries we’ve come across, along with straightforward answers to help you navigate this complex landscape.

What Is Music Publishing?

Music publishing involves the management and exploitation of musical compositions. This includes tasks like collecting royalties, licensing songs for various uses, and protecting copyrights.

How Do I Set Up My Own Publishing Company?

Setting up your own publishing company involves several steps, including choosing a business structure, registering the company, and affiliating with Performing Rights Organisations.

What Are Mechanical Royalties?

Mechanical royalties are earned when a song is reproduced in various formats like CDs, digital downloads, or streams. Agencies like MCPS in the UK can help collect these royalties.

How Do Sync Deals Work?

Sync deals involve licensing a song for use in media like films, TV shows, or advertisements. Fees and terms are negotiated and outlined in a contract, often reviewed by a music lawyer.

Can I Collect Royalties Myself?

Yes, you can collect royalties yourself, especially if you’re self-published. Tools like Songtrust can assist in rights management and royalty collection.

What’s the Difference Between a PRO and a Mechanical Licensing Agency?

PROs (Performing Rights Organisations) collect performance royalties, while mechanical licensing agencies focus on mechanical royalties. Some entities, like PRS for Music in the UK, handle both.

How Do I Get My Music on Streaming Platforms?

Digital aggregators like DistroKid or TuneCore can distribute your music to streaming platforms. They often offer additional services like analytics and marketing support.

What Is a Sync Fee?

A sync fee is a one-time payment made for the right to use a song in synchronisation with visual media, such as in a film, TV show, or advertisement.

What Is a Performance Right?

A performance right refers to the right to perform a musical work publicly. This can include anything from radio airplay to a live concert performance.

What Does ‘Master Rights’ Mean?

Master rights refer to the ownership of the original recording of a song. Whoever owns the master rights has control over how that specific recording is used and monetised.

What Is a Split Sheet?

A split sheet is a document that outlines how the royalties for a particular song are divided among its contributors, such as the songwriter, producer, and performers.

What Are Mechanical Licences?

Mechanical licences grant permission to reproduce and distribute a musical composition in various formats like vinyl, CDs or digital downloads.

What Is a Compulsory Licence?

A compulsory licence allows someone to use a copyrighted work without the owner’s consent, under specific conditions and for set fees determined by law.

Understanding Publishing: Can You Afford Not To?

Navigating the world of music publishing can seem daunting at first, but understanding its intricacies is an investment that will undeniably benefit your career. 

From delving into the origins of music publishing to dissecting the complex web of contracts and royalties, this comprehensive guide has been designed to equip you with the knowledge you need to make savvy decisions. 

Whether you’re a budding songwriter eager to make your mark or an established artist contemplating a publishing deal, understanding the mechanics of publishing is nothing short of vital.