Music Publishing is a complicated aspect of the music industry that strikes fear and confusion into the hearts of new artists. While we encourage artists to understand an in-depth view of their industry, music publishing can be a scary subject to learn about. This is why we've compiled a comprehensive guide to try to lay any uncertainties to rest and help you as an artist better understand the role music publishing will play in your career.
What is Music Publishing?
There is often a blurred line between understanding what music publishing is. While many people seem to retain the idea that the publication of music sits solely in the physical forms, like CDs and records, it stretches far deeper.
Music Publishing is a comprehensive industry that allows artists to distribute their music under copyright. This essentially enables the artists to get paid for the use of their music in a multitude of settings.
These payments are known as royalties.
Music Publishing becomes the use of the copyright, and music publishers are often your first line of defense against the unsavory use of your copyrighted music.
They are responsible for all the administration that goes into your music and getting you recognized as an artist on broader platforms.
This includes the distribution of licenses for the use of your music, monitoring where your music is used, ensuring the correct royalties are collected from users, and much more.
The easiest way to think about it is Music Publishing, which is your little doorway to fame that gives you the peace of mind to continue creating some sick tunes.
What Does Music Publishing Do?
If you look at Publishing in the sense of books. You know that publishing houses are responsible for ensuring that the shelves of libraries and bookstores are stocked and that the author gets their comeuppance for their hard work.
Without a publisher, the books don't make it out into the big world and gather dust on the desks of frustrated authors.
Well, it works similarly for musicians. Music publishing is the primary way musicians get their music out onto broader platforms to help them earn money.
When a music publisher is approached by an artist, they then become responsible for distributing the songs to the world. So naturally, they will do so in the most lucrative way possible and carry out all the tedious administrative tasks to ensure you get the most money from your song reaching a mainstream audience.
They will ensure your song hits the mainstream and is widely spread enough to see the return. Most artists available on Spotify, Apple Music and in vinyl at your RadioShack are working with Music Publishers who had made all of that happen.
How Does Music Publishing Help You Earn Money?
When a Music Publisher licenses your music and exploits this license to distribute your music, they immediately start collecting royalties.
Royalties are payments that go towards the company and artist to pay for the right to own and utilize a copy of your songs; depending on the distribution method and where users find your music, the type of royalty changes.
There are a plethora of ways to earn money from your music, and Music Publishers ensure that the money is collected into a single account, tracked, and managed to be paid out to the relevant artist.
While the return on specific licensing fees and distribution methods is minimal, the bigger your fanbase, the more money you earn.
So, you'd obviously want someone to handle the nitty-gritty while you get the rewards.
What Does Music Publishing Have To Do With Copyright?
Music Publishers often offer artists the opportunity to copyright their work. Copyright for any creator is an essential feature of their industry that protects them from having their work stolen and redistributed as an original.
How copyright works essentially gives the artist the rights to their own work, which controls the distribution and use of it. It acts as protection for your earnings so that your hard work doesn't get taken by someone else in order for them to benefit from it.
Music Publishers are generally the first people to license your music. This license is a surety that nobody can access your music and use it without your explicit permission, which comes in the form of a fee paid.
Whether it be a fan buying a CD or Spotify purchasing a license to stream your music, Music Publishers keep tabs on your copyright and ensure that wherever your music ends up, you are paid for it.
They are the warriors behind the music industry that fight and defend artists' copyrights everywhere.
What Part of My Music Is Copyrighted?
Everything and anything regarding your music can fall under copyright, whether it be the composition of your song, down to the vocals and lyrics.
Nobody will be able to clip and move around your song to try to create something "new" without hitting a copyright infringement.
We've all heard the covers artists make of other songs or EDM DJs using vocals from a head-bopping '60s classic to jazz up the club scene. Each time this happens, a license will need to be acquired for the artist to publish the music. Even when they do, some credit must still be given that links back to the original.
How Do I Get My Music Published?
Getting your music published generally means handing over a portion of your rights to your music to a Music Publisher. This allows them to maintain some control over what happens and motivates them because it starts to concern their ability to earn too.
Usually, you can select the type of publishing deal you want according to the option most lucrative for you.
There are three types:
- Full-Publishing Deals
- Co-Publishing Deals
- Administration Publishing Deals
You will have to get personal with a music publisher to be taken on as an asset to their company. Usually, when you sign up with a record label, this goes hand in hand.
So get those demos out!
Music publishing can make or break your career in music and is a worthwhile investment, especially if you're thinking about fame and fortune. But for now, if you're just starting out, Get Playlisted offers a similar service on a smaller scale to kickstart your career to stardom.