Copyright Laws: The Unfamiliar, Confusing Rules of Music Publishing



Music publishing is the business of selling songs and collecting royalties. Where you get the rights to a song determines whether you are just a musician or an independent music publisher as well. Music publishing deals with the financial side of creating, recording, and distributing songs. Whereas songwriters typically grant recording rights for their music to record labels or producers in exchange for a contract that outlines how much they’ll be paid for their work, music publishers are the ones who actually own that contract. That means music publishers are responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of songwriters. In this article, we’ll explain how the process works and what it means to be a published songwriter if you want your work to pay off one day.


What is Music Publishing?

Music publishing is the business of selling songs and collecting royalties. Where you get the rights to a song determines whether you are just a musician or an independent music publisher as well. Musicians who want to make a living from their talents usually need to do more than just record a great album. They also need to learn about how to make money from their music in other ways – whether that’s by licensing their music for TV/movies, getting a publishing deal, or touring. If you’re signed as a songwriter to an exclusive publishing deal, your publisher is responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of you and other songwriters they represent.





Publishing Deals and Royalties

The most common way for a music publisher to acquire rights to a song is to sign a publishing deal with the songwriter. A publishing deal is an agreement between the publisher and songwriter by which the publisher acquires the exclusive right to collect royalties on behalf of the songwriter. In exchange for the right to collect these royalties, the publisher pays the songwriter a one-time advance fee and then pays the songwriter a percentage of the royalties the publisher collects on the songwriter’s behalf. This percentage is called a songwriter’s royalty rate. Different publishers will pay different songwriter’s royalty rates. The royalty rate will depend on the strength of the songwriter’s catalog and the negotiating power of the publisher.



Copyright, Licensing and Royalties

The copyright to a musical composition is an ownership right that a songwriter or music publisher has in the written musical notation of a song. It is the legal right to control or sell the commercial or creative rights to a song. The musicians who play on a track that has been copyrighted are typically entitled to payments from the music publisher or copyright owner (though the level of payment will depend on their contract). Royalties are the income a songwriter or music publisher earns from the commercial use of copyrighted music. Royalties come from two main sources – mechanical royalties and performance royalties. Mechanical royalties are payments from the sale of recorded music, such as CDs and digital downloads. Performance royalties are earned from the public performance of copyrighted compositions, such as on radio and TV.


Music Publishing Copyright Basics

Music publishing is a part of the music industry that focuses on the administration and commercial exploitation of musical compositions and the songs that they inspire. In the music publishing industry, a composer is known as a songwriter. A songwriter is a composer of music. These composers create songs that are typically intended to be sung or performed by others. A songwriter may be paid money by music publishers for the use of their songs. These payments are often referred to as royalties. Music publishers acquire rights to songs by signing songwriters to contractual agreements called publishing deals. These publishing deals entitle the publishers to collect royalties on behalf of the songwriters.


Publishers Acquire Royalties on Behalf of Songwriters

When a publisher acquires rights to a song, they are entitled to collect royalties on behalf of the songwriter. The songwriter earns the royalties from the commercial use of their songs, such as the sale of CDs or live performances. The publisher is responsible for tracking down who owns the copyright to the song and then collecting royalties from the appropriate parties. This can take a lot of time and effort, and publishers are sometimes unsuccessful at tracking down all the necessary information. This can mean songwriters don’t receive all the royalties they are entitled to.



Copyright Free Music



Conclusion

If you want to make a living from your music, you need to learn about how to make money from your music in other ways – whether that’s by licensing your songs for TV/movies, getting a publishing deal, or touring. To make money in the long term, songwriters need to have their songs published so that they can be properly exploited. This means that a music publisher acquires the rights to your songs in exchange for paying you an advance and a percentage of the royalties they collect from your songs. If you want your songs to earn you a steady income, you need to make sure that you understand the complicated rules of music publishing and leverage the advantages of being a published songwriter.