What Does a Music Publishing Company Do? Types and How They Work

Their tasks include promoting their catalog’s songs to recording artists; licensing compositions for use by films, television, advertisements, and other media; monitoring song usage; and collecting and distributing royalties to clients.

Music Publishing Explained | Music Publishing 101

Types of music publishing companies

There are various kinds of publishing firms, many of which are record labels or have ties to record labels. They typically fall into four different categories:

What does a music publishing company do?

When a composer or songwriter’s work is used commercially, it is the responsibility of a music publishing company to ensure that they receive the royalties to which they are entitled. A portion of the song’s revenue goes to the music publishing company in exchange for managing the songs and ensuring royalties are paid out. The music publishing company is responsible for:

Making deals with songwriters

Some publishing houses take an active role in the songwriters they represent, offering advice and support during the writing process and vigorously promoting the finished product. Other music publishing companies take a less active role and only assess a songwriter’s finished work, determining whether they think it will be profitable, and then buying some of its royalties. Less involved music publishing companies provide very limited creative support. They also frequently respond to offers rather than making them, offering less promotion overall.

How do music publishing companies work?

Music publishing companies earn income through royalties and licensing fees. Frequently, the music publishing company receives a 50% share of the song’s copyright. Nevertheless, the publishing agreement type may have an impact on how the songwriter and publisher are split. There are three primary types of music publishing deals:

Full-publishing deals

In this kind of publishing agreement, the songwriter cedes to the publisher all of the rights to a song. It covers everything the songwriter produces during the term of the contract, and frequently, the songwriter is required to produce a certain minimum number of songs. The publisher will always own that share after the songwriter assigns a lifetime copyright to them.

The advantage of this kind of publishing agreement is that the publisher will actively market the songwriters’ published works and make industry pitches on their behalf. The publisher also pays an advance to the songwriter, which is later repaid.

While this kind of publishing agreement used to be quite common, it is less so now. However, it still happens, especially if the publisher believes the songwriter has potential despite their lack of fame. The publishing company is taking on more risk in this scenario because it will probably need to devote a sizable amount of resources to aiding the songwriter in the development of their career. As a result, they frequently demand full publishing rights from the songwriter in exchange for taking that risk.

2. Co-publishing

This is the type of publishing agreement that music publishing companies most frequently provide. In accordance with this publishing agreement, the publishing company and the small company of songwriters co-publish, splitting the profits 50/50. Those songwriters who have some experience but still desire the promotional support that a publisher provides frequently enter into this type of publishing agreement.

These types of deals also have some duration of rights. In other words, even though the duration of rights can range from two to even 20 years or longer, the songwriter eventually recovers the full rights to their music.

3. Administration deals

With this kind of publishing agreement, the publisher is only accountable for gathering and verifying the songwriters’ royalties. In this instance, the songwriter retains total authority over the copyright. They give the publisher an administration fee in exchange for 10 to 25 percent of the song’s sales revenue. This kind of publishing agreement can last for up to five years.

How to permit your music for use in film and media

Songwriters and musicians can make money by having their music featured in media and movies in addition to gaining new fans. You must make sure that the music is licensed if you want to guarantee that you are paid for the use of your work. The main method by which musicians are paid royalties for their work is through music licensing. There are three main ways to get your music licensed for use in movies and other media:


What is the role of a publishing company in music?

The promotion and monetization of musical compositions is the business of music publishing. Music publishers make sure that songwriters are paid royalties for their works and work to create opportunities for those works to be performed and used in other contexts.

How do publishers make money music?

How They Make Money. Music publishers earn money through licensing fees and royalties. A publisher typically receives a 50% ownership stake in a song. In other words, the publisher receives a portion of the copyright for a song that was originally owned by the songwriter.

Is a music publisher necessary?

In essence, you only require a music publisher if you have written your own songs, have secured their copyright, and are planning to distribute them for commercial use. A music publisher may not be required if your musical career is still in its infancy.

How much does a music publisher usually make?

On average, Music Publishers earn approximately $54,000 annually. Music Publishers make between $45,000 and $63,000 annually. Depending on the size of the business and the caliber of its songwriters, the income of a music publisher can vary greatly.

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