Music Publishing is kind of a strange animal in the digital age. A lot has changed over the last 15 years or so. This is such an in-depth subject that I will not be able to cover it in one post. So I will be posting topics on this subject in a series of posts. This is going to be part 1. Now keep in mind, that I am NOT an attorney, so please consult one before signing any documents. This series of posts is meant to help give you a little insight into music publishing from my experience, this post should not be taken as 100% accurate, therefore I can't be held liable for any damages from you not consulting an attorney. Now with the disclaimer out of the way, let's get to it.
The basic definition of music publishing in everyday terms without using the attorney talk (legal definition) is this: You own it unless or until you sign it away!!! From the time you create the beat, if you are a producer or the time you write the lyrics, if you are a song writer; you own the publishing rights. That is no one can do anything with your songs, without your permission (i.e. release them commercially via record labels, put them in films, play it on the radio, put them in video games ect.).
The legal definition is this: Consists of companies mainly engaged in acquiring and registering copyrights for musical compositions and promoting and authorising the use of these compositions in recordings, radio, television, motion pictures, live performances, print, or other media. Companies in this class represent the interest of the composers ( beat makers or Lyricists) , or other owners of musical compositions, to produce revenues from the use of such works, usually through licensing agreements. These Companies may own the copyright or act as administrator of the music copyrights on behalf of copyright owners. Also included in this class are units publishing sheet music (including in bound book form).
When or if you sign with a record label, you still own the publishing rights, which is the P.A. Copyright (Performance Artist), the label will own the S.R. Copyright (Sound Recording). You will own these rights unless you sign either all or part of it away. Unless a company is offering you some real big money, it is NOT advised to sign over ALL of your publishing. Most companies will want you to sign over a portion, which is fair up to 50% but not over that. Beware of any company that wants more than 50%
In the next post, I will discuss how you can get paid by owning your publishing, so stay tuned!!!
I am a total music fan and enjoy working in the studio. To know me is to know music.