What is Music Publishing and Why Do I Need It?

What is Music Publishing?

Music publishing involves protecting the rights in your music and making sure that you’re paid the money that you’re entitled to.

In a nutshell, a music publisher will take care of all of the administrative work which leaves you as a composer or songwriter to focus on what you do best – creating music.

Different publishers may offer different things, but here is a list of things that could be part of their role:
Registering your works with collection societies such as PRS for Music in the UK.
Collection of performance and mechanical royalties and making royalty payments to you, which is explained here.
Securing licenses for the use of your music, for example synchronisation deals.
Encouraging and developing the skills of their writers and composers.
Producing or licensing printed sheet music.

Why Do I Need a Publisher?

The realm of music publishing can seem like a bit of a minefield to navigate yourself through. Music publishers are specialists in their field so you can rely on their expertise to ensure that you are getting all of the revenue that you are entitled to out of your songs.

If you’re the songwriter or composer, you’re entitled to royalties each time your song is reproduced on CD, Vinyl, MP3 etc., played in public, on radio, on television, downloaded, streamed, performed live or synced to visual media.

A publisher will collect these royalties for you on your behalf from their affiliated collection society, and in the case of synchronisation they will also negotiate the sync fee in order to use your music. In many cases, they are members of several collection societies across the world ensuring that your royalties flow back to you in the most direct and quickest way.

They will have good connections and contacts within the music industry such as the likes of music supervisors working on films, television shows and advertisements. So, they know how to get your music in front of the key influencers of this part of the industry. They will also be well versed in who is working on what projects meaning that they can present your music to the music supervisors who are looking for that particular style.


How to Get Started:

Try to find a publisher that is the right fit for you. Make sure they offer what you need at this stage in your career. Research their current roster to see if they work with your genre or style of music.

When approaching a music publisher, you need to ‘sell’ yourself in the best way possible. Each publisher will be different so it’s best to check out their website or give them a call to see if they accept unsolicited submissions and find out the best person to contact. It’s always good to get the name of the actual person you need to contact if possible. You also need to find out how they like to receive submissions, whether via email, post or through their website.

Once you have done this, keep your initial submission short and sweet. If submitting via email or online, it’s advisable to provide a link to your best track and make sure it’s accessible. If they need to sign up to a service or follow too many steps, they may be turned off and lose interest. Sites such as Box are great for sharing files as the audio can be streamed directly from the link and then the user has the option to download the track if they want to. (You can disable the download option at the time of creating your share link if you don’t want them to be able to do this).

Provide a short biography and remember you’re trying to make yourself stand out. Publishers will get multiple submissions a day so you really want to grab their attention – what’s your USP?

After this initial submission, hopefully they will be in touch and will want to find out more about you and hear more tracks. Don’t be too disheartened if they don’t reply straight away, remember a music publisher is inundated with submissions, but if you haven’t had a response in a few weeks’ time you can always do a gentle follow up.

How Can I Find a Music Publisher?

Doing a generic online search can help but the Music Publishers Association is a good place to start too. They have a directory of members where you can search by genre and also see if they accept unsolicited materials.

At Horus Music, we have an in-house publishing team who always love to hear new music. More information can be found here.

I’ve Got a Deal!

Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off.

Before signing on the dotted line, always read over the contract thoroughly and make sure you fully understand what both the publisher and yourself are agreeing to do.

Check the royalty splits, the term, if there’s any advance payable and exactly what they’re going to do for you. Make sure you’re aware of how many songs you are signing the deal for or committing to write under the agreement. As with any contract, it is advisable that you seek legal advice before signing.

Best of luck!