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April 24, 20222 mins read

Music Publishing FAQs

By Jacque Alec

What is Music Publishing?

Music publishing is the business of creating, producing and distributing musical compositions. A music publisher is a company that manages the copyright to a song or composition. They are responsible for ensuring that the composer is paid for their work, and they also promote and protect the composition.

What Are Music Publishing Rights?

There are two principle rights associated with any sound recording: the copyright to the composition, and the copyright to the master recording. Music publishing is concerned with the first copyright. The composer owns the copyright to their composition. The music publisher then owns the right to license, protect and collect income on behalf of that composition.

What Are Music Publishing Royalties?

Music publishing royalties are payments that a composer receives for their work. These royalties are paid to the composer when their composition is used. The amount of money that a composer receives depends on the use of their composition. Use of a composition in a major motion picture, for example, will likely generate far more revenue than an online streaming advertisement.

How Do You Own Your Music Publishing?

Upon writing a new musical work the composers will automatically own the copyright in the composition. In order to collect income by way of music publishing royalties the composer will need to either register the work with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) or sign a publishing contract with a music publisher, or sometimes both. It is important to have a lawyer read over the contract before you sign away any rights in the composition.

How Do Music Publishing Companies Work?

Music publishing companies work by signing a contract with a composer. This contract gives the company the rights to the composition. The company may then license copies of the composition in order to generate revenue for both parties. The composer is paid for their work through royalties which the publisher is responsible for collecting.

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