Tag Archive: Music Publishing

  1. How Publishing Works – Contracts and Rights Explained

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    How Publishing Works

    How Publishing Works

    Publishing can be a very tricky area of the music industry to understand. As if the concept of what publishing is wasn’t difficult enough, there are a huge number of acronyms and organisations to remember. Luckily we are here to help make sense of it all for you.

    Music publishers are essentially the people who administer the rights for songwriters and composers on a piece of music. When a song is created there can often be songwriters consulted who are not members of the band or performing act. In order to make sure they receive royalties for their work, a song is split into two different parts when dealing with rights. Publishers deal with the rights for the composition of the song and the written work, whereas labels typically deal with the recording of the song as a different component (often known as the master).

    When signing to a publisher in the UK, they will work together with the UK collection society called PRS (similar organisations exist in other countries under different names). The PRS is an organisation that represents songwriters, composers and publishers, collecting royalties on their behalf whenever their music is performed publicly. This can be when the song is played live, on TV, radio or in public places like retail shops.

    As if the split between recording and composition wasn’t confusing enough, there are also a few types of income streams with publishing. These are:

    • Performing Rights.
    • Mechanical Income.
    • Synchronisation.
    • Print Rights.

    Check out this post for more information on what these rights mean.

    Publishing Contracts

    When singing a publishing deal there are a few different kinds of typical scenarios you can expect:

    Single Song Assignment - Also referred to as a specific agreement. This is where the publisher will only publish individual songs and the songwriter is not exclusively signed to them. They can enter into as many single song agreements as they wish. The agreement is also made for a specific period of time.

    Exclusive Writer Contract - This type of deal is more serious and is worth seeking legal advice for before signing. The entire catalogue of the writer is covered by this agreement and could include a recoupable advance for the writer. Make sure to look at the length of the agreement, the territories involved and the royalty split when signing this agreement.

    Administration - This is a different kind of contract where the writer does not sign any publishing rights away, and does not involve any creative endeavours such as sync opportunities. Instead this brings in a third party to handle the administrative work of publishing, such as collecting foreign income through sub-publishers in other territories. The administrator will take a percentage of the royalties for this work.

    Sub-publishing Agreement - This is a deal that publishers make with other publishers and is generally done without the involving the writer. If a publisher feels that the writers work would be better represented in another territory by a different publisher, they will write a sub-publisher agreement to do this. For example, if a publisher in England would like to publish in America they may find an American publisher to work with.  The advantages of this are that that publisher could be an expert in their territory and have good contacts. Royalties would also flow quicker as that publisher can collect more easily for their territory. The disadvantages of this however is that there are more parties taking a cut of royalties before they reach the writer, and  when new developments occur for the writer it can take a long time to update each and every publisher about what is going on.

    Synchronisation - This contract can be made to either a publisher or a specialised sync company. This deal solely covers trying to license music for sync and collecting money from that. Typically there is a 50/50 royalty split between the writer and sync company but this can vary. Specialised companies tend to have better contacts in TV and film companies, but it is worth looking at what successful placements they have done in the past.

    Overall publishing can create a great source of income for artists aside from regular sales of music. It also means you are not missing out on royalties you are potentially owed and creates great exposure opportunities through sync placements. Hopefully this helps you to understand a little more about publishing and what its place is within the music world.


  2. Music Rights Explained

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    Music rights can be a very tricky area to understand, with a crazy number of acronyms and collecting societies to remember. In this blog, we will explain a bit about what the PRS (Performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) do for songwriters with publishing royalties, and what PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) do for performers and recording licenses.

    Music Rights Explained


    PRS and MCPS

    The PRS are a UK collecting society for songwriters and composers. When using a song for publishing there are 2 different components to the song that collecting societies have to consider.

    These are the songwriters royalties and the recording artists royalties.

    PRS represent the writers, composers and publishers of a piece of music whenever it is played in public. Songwriters can sign up with the PRS who then add your content to their database, and collect any performance royalties on your behalf. This includes whenever a track you wrote is publicly performed, such as in radio, TV, film and video games. This is done by adding a special code called an ISWC to the song that allows PRS to keep track of where the music is played. If you are a writer credited on a track then you will be entitled to publishing royalties through PRS.

    PRS for Music has blanket licenses in place with UK terrestrial TV networks for the use of music on their channels. Any track that is registered with PRS for Music can be used by the TV networks without the need to seek individual clearance. There are no blanket licenses in place in the US, or elsewhere.

    MCPS are another collection society that work to collect royalties on behalf of writers, composers and publishers of a piece of music whenever it is reproduced. Whereas the royalties from PRS are called performance royalties, MCPS collect what is known as a mechanical royalty. These kinds of royalty are made from downloads, streaming and physical sales of music. In order to collect mechanical royalties, you must have a membership with MCPS, who can then send information about your mechanical royalties to PRS. PRS for Music can pay both the mechanical and performance royalties to writers, composers and publishers if you are signed up to both organisations, which means you can collect all your royalties from one place.


    PPL are a performance rights organisation that deal with collecting royalties for the performing artists on a track. Rather than PRS who represent songwriters and composers, PPL represent the recording artists and the record label, collecting royalties for the use of their recorded music publicly. If a retail shop wishes to play music in their store, they must buy a license from both the PRS and PPL as they are using the songwriters work as well as the performers work. Any situation in which the recorded music is used would mean paying for a PPL license.

    Income Streams

    It is important to know your right and where you can earn additional royalties from.

    Performing Rights - when music is played in public. Collected by PRS.

    Mechanical Rights - when music is reproduced. You must be a member of MCPS, but the royalty can be paid through PRS.

    Synchronisation - when music is placed with visual images. Can be a deal with a publisher or specific sync companies.

    Print Rights - when sheet music is sold or lyrics are printed. These can be both in physical and digital formats.

  3. What is Music Publishing and Why Do I Need It?

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

    What is Music Publishing and Why Do I Need It?

    What is Music Publishing?

    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.

    Publishing companies

    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.

    As well as this, have a look for opportunities newsletters such as Help for Bands who compile monthly newsletters with contact details for publishers who are actively looking for new artists.

    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!

    congratsCongratulations! 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!