A music publisher is a major link between a songwriter and the rest of the music industry. A publisher is in charge of the copyrights, licensing and royalties on behalf of composers / songwriters. A publisher provides a service to composers in exchange for a percentage of royalties.
What Does the Role Involve?
A music publisher’s goal is to sign publishing contracts with composers and songwriters; this involves the assigning of the copyright of a composition to the publisher. The publisher will then license this in return, monitor its usage and collect royalties.
Publishers will also try to link songwriters with appropriate recording artists to help get unused compositions recorded and distributed. This will benefit both the artist and the publisher. Another way a publisher promotes clients is to develop contacts with other areas of creative media. This can be anything from film, TV, games and advertising, to license songs to be used by these industries.
Although it is now less common, there are some publishers who still perform the traditional publisher’s role. They will print sheet music and songbooks and distribute them on behalf of the composer.
Making Money as a Music Publisher?
As previously mentioned publishers sign contracts for a percentage of royalties which can vary, but can be up to 50%. They collect royalties from the record companies that record the compositions for CD sales and digital downloads. They also collect royalties through a range of unions and music rights associations from radio stations, streaming services, DJs etc.
Finally whenever a song is used on an advert, TV show, movie or soundtrack the publisher collects the synchronisation royalties.
There are a wide range of independent and major publishing companies within the industry.