The Three Most Common Publishing Deals - Learn Your Options!

Alex Badanes on May 14, 2014

If you want to be a truly successful songwriter in the music industry today, it is extremely important to have a deal in place with a music publishing company. Music Publishers can perform a variety of tasks to help propel a songwriter's career. 

The moment you decide that that song you have been working on for weeks is finally finished, you own a copyright and 100% of your publishing. This 100% is divided into two very important sections - The Publisher’s Share (50%) and The Songwriter’s Share (50%). It is imperative to understand that most publishing agreements only take a percentage of ownership of your Publisher’s share (50%). Unless you sign a work for hire agreement (See Below), you will never lose any ownership of your Songwriter’s share. For the most part, there are three types of publishing deals that you will come across today.

Administration Agreements

In an administration agreement, you the songwriter keeps 100% ownership of your copyright and gives away only 5-20% of your publisher’s share for a term of usually only 1- 3 years. Administration agreements typically do not include any creative services and focus solely on properly registering your songs with collection societies around the world as well as collecting royalties on your behalf.

Joining Songtrust is a great way to set up a short-term administration agreement and begin collecting publishing royalties worldwide. Click here to learn more. 

Co- Publishing Agreements

A co-publishing agreement is the most common publishing deal for major songwriters today. As songwriter, you typically give away 50% ownership of your publisher’s share (hence "co-publishing") to the publisher you sign with. In doing so, you retain 100% of your songwriter’s share and 50% of your publisher’s share so 75% of your overall publishing royalties. In this deal, because the publisher takes partial ownership over the works, they have much more of an incentive to exploit the songs and generate royalties from them. The ways in which your songs can be exploited are predominantly through synchronizations in Television and Film as well as being recorded and released by major artists - these are things the creative teams at any reputable music publisher will actively do for you on a daily basis. Many music publishing companies will offer you generous advances to entice you to sign with them. Remember however, that these advances will need to be recouped in full once your songs start to generate income.

Work For Hire

In a work for hire agreement, for a flat fee, you will give up all ownership and administration rights for your works for the life of copyright. These agreements are most common in film and advertising when the film studio or production company wishes to own and control all aspects of the production.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not in any way intended to be taken as legal advice.

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