November 30, 2020

That Thing Called Life

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How Does Music Publishing Protect Creativity?

Is the question – how does music publishing protect creativity – plaguing you? Are you trying to figure out if you need a music publisher? If you answered yes, then you would want to keep reading. There is a lot of hard work that goes into creating your own music, like learning some of the techniques described at So you are well within our rights to protect your music as much as you can.

Let’s start by defining what music publishing is:

  • Music publishing – is all about the ownership of the song
  • Music Publisher or a publishing company – is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially.

What I will be discussing in this post is from a musical composition perspective. Let me clarify – there is the sound recording and there is the composition. The sound recording is the recreation/cover of an original song, also referred to as the masters. The composition is the original work, music and lyrics, also referred to as the work. Both the sound recording and the composition come with rights – copyrights. However, only the owner of the composition can grant permission to others to remake the song via licenses. However you can buy sample packs and royalty free packs from sites like and many others.

As you can imagine, managing the use of your song is a lot of work. Due to the complex, this is why most songwriters have music publishers to handle this administrative work. In many cases, songwriters sell their songs directly to the music publisher. Whether you sell the song or have an administrative deal, the music publisher will issue the licenses. When working with a music publisher, they have four main responsibilities to the songwriter. They are responsible for song registration with a performance rights organization (like – ASCAP, BMI, SESAC); licensing; royalty collection; creative matters. Music publishers do tons of administrative work to ensure that you get the opportunities your music deserves. Most noteworthy, they make sure you get paid.

Listed below you will see the various types of deals and licenses that are associated with music publishing. NOTE: I will not go into much detail. There is a ton of information and complexity as it related to music publishing. If I included everything, then this post would be more like a book.

Types of Publishing Deals (agreement between you and the music publisher)

  • Work for Hire
  • Songwriting
  • 360 Deals
  • Administration
  • Co-publishing

Types of Licenses (how your music will be used)

  • Mechanical
  • Compulsory
  • Reduce Rate
  • Direct
  • Performance
  • Synchronization (this is quite complex – research)

In the beginning of your career, it may be easy for you to handle the administrative functions related to manage your songs. However, if you are spending more time on paperwork then the creative process, then it may be time to find the right music publisher to manage your catalog. Consult with your manager, attorney, and peers to identify a publishing company that will serve your needs.

I hope this post help clarify the role of a music publisher and how the company works. There is great value in having a music publisher, especially one who always has your best interest at heart. I truly hope the information is beneficial to your growth in the music industry. In conclustion, if you are looking for a publisher – check out

Best Wishes


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