How to Start Your Own Publishing Company

Ken Consor on Mar 26, 2014

Wondering how to set up your own publishing company?  The process is lengthy and expensive, let's start with two alternatives that will also allow you to collect all of the royalties you are owed without the hassle.


1) Join Songtrust.

Joining Songtrust lets you manage your own publishing (entirely online) while also keeping creative control of your catalog. You can also skip the time-consuming and expensive list below and let us do the work for you. Multiple writer accounts allow you to manage publishing for other songwriters.

2) Get signed to a publishing deal.

There are several different types of publishing deals. Commonly, publishers will pay writers an advance in exchange for a collection fee. Certain types of publishing deals will leave the publisher in creative control of the compositions.


How to Start Your Own Publishing Company:

1) Decide on a name.
You will need a unique name so that royalty payments don't get improperly assigned. When you go through your affiliation process (see step 2), you will be required to submit a few potential names.

2) Affiliate with a performing rights organization.
Apply to affiliate as a publisher with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. If you are publishing your own music, you will need to affiliate with a performing rights organization as a songwriter - you should affiliate with the same society as a publisher. If you will be publishing music from other writers, you should probably affiliate with all three organizations. Approval to become a writer or publisher affiliate takes several weeks. There is typically a fee involved to apply.

3) Register in your area for a fictitious business name or "DBA" name.
DBA stands for "Doing Business As".  These forms can be found at the Secretary of State's office website for your local state. There are fees involved in obtaining a DBA.

4) Open an account at your bank under your publishing company's DBA name.
You will use this account to collect royalties earned from your publishing company.

4) Register your company's songs with the Copyright Office in your publishing company's name.
You can register for a Sound Recording (SR) copyright online or by mail with the US Copyright Office.  It usually takes several months for these registrations to be processed. If you already have copyrighted songs in your own name, you will need to fill out some paperwork to transfer the copyrights to your publishing company.

5) Register your company's songs at the performing rights organizations.

6) Get a publishing administrator to handle local and international registration and collection for royalties.
Although you can register works at local performing rights organizations, you will need to go through a laundry list (much longer and pricier than this one) of paperwork and legal work to become affiliated and register internationally.  Instead, you should join a publishing administration service like Songtrust to handle administrative work for you.



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