I am interested to find out exactly what it is that a music publisher does, especially on a day to day basis. The music publisher stands at the crossroads of Art and Commerce, where enthusiasm for the art and business sense meet or miss each other. My main aim throughout this essay is too discuss this much debate question. I would like to include an interview from a music publisher and hear their view on this matter, and through my research conclude the matter with my own opinion.
Music Publishing “Music publishing is where the copyright creator (Songwriter) allows the business person (Music Publisher) to take on the responsibility of maximizing the earning potential of the creator’s endeavors”. –Johnny Lappin. The main purpose of a music publisher is to exploit, administer and collect royalties for its copyright properties. They acquire the rights to songs from lyricists, songwriters and composers; this is done through an agreement called a publishing contract.
The publisher will licence the composition, this helps monitor when and where the music is used, the publisher will then collect any royalties due for this usage. The publisher sells the rights to record companies (to make records), to sheet music publishers (to make sheet music books or digital sheet music to sell over the internet) and to the makers of film and adverts (synch). * There are five rights to which the music publisher has control of: * Mechanical Rights Permission is needed to mechanically reproduce a licensed work.
The money that is paid and collected for this licensing is called a Mechanical Royalty. * Synchronization Rights This is the rights to the use of music used in synchronization to a visual, such as, in commercial advertising. The publisher would need to negotiate and issue a synchronization license so that the copyright can be used. * Print Rights Usually publishers will issue sheet music of all copyrighted works, especially that of a major songwriter they represent. * Digital Print Rights It is now possible for publishers to make digital copies of all a songwriter’s sheet music and artists’ recordings.
This can then be sold online through MIDI files, PDF files etc. * Public Performance Rights Public Performance Rights such as, IMRO, collect royalties on the behalf of the publisher. They collect from Radio, Television, Retail stores and nightclubs etc. which use music in an effort to enhance their music. The Role of the Publisher Before the days of the singer/songwriter, music publishing was the music business. Publishers would acquire the copyrights to writers work and would then try to get the work exploited.
Due to the fact that a lot of artists started writing their own music, the relationship between the publisher and the rest of the Industry began to change. Record Companies began to realise that if they singed an artist that write their own stuff they would not have any problems finding songs for the artist, and so they began looking for artists that could offer them this single package. An artist/composer can hire a publisher or they can publish their music themselves. It costs around €150 to register your own publishing company but not all artists have the time or skill to run this and can often end up going broke.
The publisher handles the administrative aspects of the business, contracts need to be drawn up, collecting societies such as IMRO in Ireland need to be dealt with, offices have to be run etc. They make sure that all the legal and financial areas of your song writing are under control. The publisher works to place songs in its catalogue with other recording artists to gain royalties for themselves and the writer. Publishers always work hard to promote the back catalogue of songs. In recent years there has been a trend to use old classics in T.
V programmes and adverts; this has made a lot of money for publishers. However, publishing work is not just about promoting a back catalogue of songs; they also need to keep in the present day. There are new artists and writers emerging all the time and it is vitally important for the publisher to keep in contact with A&R departments and with the live music scene. Publishers often need to provide new songwriters and composers with the facilities they need to produce music and offering them advice in writing for particular markets. Typical Working day of a Publisher Open the mail, which will include letters and bills from Lawyers, record companies, managers, artists etc. The post will of course also include demo tapes. The publisher should listen to these tapes straight away or as soon as possible. They should then return the ones they do not like and keep the ones they do for further listening and investigation. * They then continue on with regular business, such as, drawing up new publishing deals, or renewing old ones. They may also have to deal with staff issues. Large companies may employ between 50- 100 staff and smaller companies will only employ a handful. The publisher may have some business lunch appointments with clients, their client’s managers, potential clients etc. This lunch will be used to try and develop a relationship with these people. * When the lunch is finished the publisher may have to return phone calls, have more tapes to listen to. She/he may also have some songs to try and pitch, to be heard by singers, managers, record companies and basically anyone who is in the music business. * During the evening, while most people go home after their days work, the publisher will go out and try to find new acts to sign. Legal Issues – The Contract
For many songwriters and composers the truth is that when getting their first contract they become so overwhelmed and excited, that they forget to read the small print and sign without thoroughly examining the contract. You should always read and make sure you understand a contract before signing it, or get the contract checked by a professional body, such as, a solicitor preferably one qualified in music law. * There are three important points that must be negotiated between both parties before signing. These are: * The Term of the Agreement. * The Royalty Split between writer and publisher. The Territories covered by the contract. The Term The term covers the length of the agreement between the songwriter/composer and the publisher. The duration of the agreement can be based on years or on albums/songs. The agreement may be for one, three, or five years or it might cover specific songs for the ‘Life of Copyright’; this is the life of the author plus seventy years. One very important point to take notice of is that although some contracts might contract the writer for a period of time e. g. Three years, the works may be signed for life of copyright. The Royalty Split between writer and publisher
There is no standard royalty split between writer and publisher, although according to a practice dating back to 1914, a publisher cannot take more than 50%. The deal is always in favour of the writer. Modern contract would usually have a split of between 60/40 and 85/15, depending on a number of factors e. g. how good the song is. The Territories covered by the contract The Territory refers to the countries governed by the contract. This can depend on the nature of, and where exploitation can take place. Publishing deals can cover the world or can be broken down on a country by country basis.