What can I expect from a music publisher?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Sep 25, 2011
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
The music publisher registers and “plugs” your music everywhere it can, and then collects most of the fees that are due. The idea is that they look out for your interests because they have an interest in you. When you sign a publishing deal, you usually sign over to a music publisher at least some, or even all, of your copyrights protections or administration rights to a song. Your agreement with your music publisher will stipulate this and also grant it the ability to calculate and collect your royalties for you, as well as the ability to license and negotiate other income-making deals on your behalf.
Music Publisher Fees
The fees a publisher will collect from sales of your material are supposed to be consistent, but in reality, you should always be prepared to negotiate these fees down as much as possible via your agent. These negotiations will be based on your clout as an artist and/or your likely sales figures, among other things. There is also usually a negotiated payment plan between the publisher and other big players, such as radio stations that will play your music.
Music Publisher License Agreements
Music publishers also collect profits for you through different licensing agreements. Your music publisher will issue mechanical licenses and synchronization agreements, and will collect your royalties and/or find users and consumers for your songs by “plugging” them. The following are several types of licensing fees that will be negotiated:
- Mechanical Licenses (although the record company usually owns the “mechanical” copyright)
- Performing Rights Licenses (often collected from a performing artist organization, such as ASCAP, BMI, SESCAP)
- Synchronization Licenses
- Print Licenses
- Foreign Licenses
The last license mentioned (foreign licensing) has a special wrinkle: collecting from outside of the United States usually has to be in the hands of separate music publishers. These publishers are known as “sub-publishers”, and their fees tend to be quite a bit higher than your domestic music publisher.