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Demystifying Music Publishing: Understanding the Basics and How to Get Paid

Updated: Aug 10, 2023



Music publishing is a critical aspect of the music industry that often goes overlooked by new and aspiring musicians. Simply put, music publishing is the business of making sure that songwriters and composers are paid for their work. But how does it all work? And how can you make sure that you're getting paid what you're owed? In this post, we'll demystify music publishing and give you the information you need to understand the basics and start earning money for your music.


What is Music Publishing? Music publishing involves the ownership and management of musical compositions, including the lyrics and music itself. The job of a music publisher is to find ways to exploit these compositions, such as licensing them for use in films, TV shows, commercials, video games, and other media. Music publishers also collect royalties on behalf of the songwriter or composer and distribute them accordingly.


How Do You Get Paid for Your Music? As a songwriter or composer, there are several ways to get paid for your work through music publishing. The most common include:

  • Mechanical Royalties: These are royalties paid for the use of your compositions on physical and digital products such as CDs, vinyl, and digital downloads.

  • Performance Royalties: These are royalties paid for the public performance of your compositions, such as on the radio, TV, or in a live venue.

  • Sync Licensing: This involves licensing your compositions for use in film, TV, commercials, and other media.

Understanding the music publishing landscape can be complex, but it's essential to protect your rights and earn what you're owed. Some organizations, such as ASCAP and BMI, can help you collect performance royalties, while others, like Harry Fox Agency, can help you collect mechanical royalties. Additionally, working with a music lawyer or business manager can be instrumental in helping you navigate the music publishing world and maximize your earnings.


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