Copyright Entertainment Law

The Importance of Music Publishing Companies

Music publishing companies are extremely valuable to the future of recording artists and groups in the music industry. Most artists are typically concerned about securing their first major recording deal with a top label; as a result, they fail to see the importance behind obtaining or forming a publishing company. There are many record labels that have expanded their services to be a full, one-stop shop for their beneficiaries. Nonetheless, for the most part, publishing companies and record labels fulfill different tasks for the artist.

Record labels are mostly focused on the recording, production, distribution, and marketing of an artist’s songs. Publishing companies, on the other hand, are more duly equipped to collect royalties for when the artist’s songs are performed, recorded, or otherwise played for another person’s or entity’s own commercial gain. By entering into a publishing agreement, the artist effectively grants the publishing company one of the following rights: (1) copyright to the songs; (2) partial copyright to the songs; or (3) a percentage of the revenue earned from the use of the artist’s songs. In exchange for one or more of the aforementioned rights, the music publishing company becomes obligated to seek opportunities on the artist’s behalf for licensing the right to use the songs and collect fees based upon the usage. The music publishing company’s share of royalties is usually 50%. When the contractual agreement comes to an end, all rights automatically revert back to the artist.

Music publishers advertise their artists’ songs to record labels, movie and television producers, and any others who may be in the market for a certain sound. The type of licenses dispensed by music publishers are the following[1]: (1) Reproduction (Mechanical) licenses – for music distributed or recorded in physical and/or digital form by another artist; (2) Public Performance licenses – for music broadcast on radio, live venues and/or other public places; (3) Synchronization licenses – for music used in film, television, commercials, etc.; and (4) Folio licenses – for music published in written form as lyrics or sheet music.

As previously mentioned, publishing companies do not participate in the recording or production of the artist’s songs; artists who seek representation from a publishing company are either self-financed, self-recorded, or have received some form of financial backing from a record label. However, independent artists without funding should not be wary of pursuing assistance from a publishing company. Music publishers have the utmost interest in finding multiple, various avenues for the artist’s songs to be heard due to the fact that means more royalties for the artist and more commissions/fees for the company. Publishing companies are extremely beneficial to the artists’ brand and their ability to fully capitalize on their outreach potential.