The Sentric Music team have put together a series of short blogs to help artists understand music publishing and, most importantly, how you can make money from your publishing rights.
Sentric Music is an independent music publisher established in 2006. They now publish tens of thousands of writers and operate worldwide. Sentric is free to join; you retain 100% control of your copyright and you can leave at any point with just 28 days’ notice. Sentric simply take a small share of what they earn you.
What Is Music Publishing?
Publishing (your songs!)
So, what is music publishing? It’s essentially your songs. That was easy, wasn’t it?
Simply by writing a song you’ve created a copyright, a piece of intellectual property that you own and that you can exploit to generate income. If you write a song with other writers then you all have a share in the copyright of that song. You should also decide how much financial share (split) you will each receive from the song.
Bear in mind that your recordings and associated recording rights are separate to your songs and publishing rights. When a song is recorded, two sets of rights exist: publishing rights (in the song) and master rights (in the recording). The income streams and clearance required for both are separate although, in some cases, the writers and the recording artists may be the same people.
Performance and mechanical rights organisations represent the collective rights and interests of their songwriter and music publisher members. They set rates and collect income from the users of music (venues, broadcasters, online music services, jukeboxes, shops, gyms…the list goes on). In the UK, these organisations are PRS and MCPS (who now jointly operate as ‘PRSforMusic’) but there are many different rights bodies around the world that all have varying licensing policies and rates.
Whilst a rights organisation can collect income for the use of your song, they cannot work to try and get your music used over anyone else’s. This is still down to you and this is one of the many reasons it’s beneficial to have a music publisher taking this work off your hands. A publisher should increase your chances of having your music used, generating more income and, most importantly, affording you more time to do what you do best – write songs.
A publisher should work to maximise income from your publishing copyright through efficient administration of your songs and creative exploitation (such as synchronisation). Of course, to give a publisher an incentive to ‘invest’ time and/or money in your songs and help you to generate as much income from them as possible you’ll have to relinquish a certain share of the royalty income from your songs.
There is no steadfast rule as to what you should give up when considering a publisher – it very much depends on your needs and goals – but some key points to consider are: the publisher’s reputation, previous work and global links; any advance being offered vs the royalty share the publisher wants; and the length of the agreement (the ‘term’).
As a songwriter and copyright owner you are at the core of the publishing process and, in theory, self publishing is possible. In reality, administering publishing rights is complex and even just maximising income from one territory takes knowledge and time. A publisher should have the expertise and systems to administer your rights much more effectively and so some level of publishing representation is beneficial as soon as you start to write original songs.
Hopefully this has provided a very basic overview of music publishing and its key components. In the next post we’ll look at how you can make money from your publishing rights.
To find out more about what Sentric can do for you as a publisher, head over to their website