The first day into my first job in music publishing, my boss took me aside and said, “Give it time, Mandy. It will take many years to master music publishing administration.”
How right he was! I’ve been working in music publishing for over a decade now and I’m still learning in a vibrant landscape that’s both eroding and evolving.
The paradox is that once publishing royalties have been generated, the clock starts ticking and the race is on to collect those royalties before it’s too late. Uncollected royalties don’t wait around forever to be claimed. There is a fixed window of time to claim and once that window has passed, unclaimed royalties are dispersed.
The process of global royalty registration and collection is challenging. There are many publishing collection societies and services, each with its own complicated rules for royalty registration and distribution. Abide by the rules, and the royalties due to you should flow. However, I wouldn’t want to claw my way through all that red tape alone, without the knowledge, experience, expertise, and support of a publishing administrator. There isn’t enough time to learn the rules.
I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be new things to learn relating to music publishing but quite honestly, I don’t need to know everything because companies like Songtrust have numerous personnel who are knowledgeable, dedicated, and at the top of their game with regards to each area of the global royalty collection process.
Sure, you can go it alone, and at the very least join your local PRO or CMO, but without a partner, you will undoubtedly miss out on some of the royalties due to you. In my opinion, the key to optimizing royalty collection is to have the infrastructure needed to work the system in place. That is where a publishing administrator can help you.
Historically, not everyone had access to global publishing administration and traditional publishing deals offered little flexibility. They often unfavorably tied the writers and all their copyrights to contracts in perpetuity. As such, writers would sign deals to obtain the royalties due to them but in doing so, give up control.
Luckily, there are now more options available and they work much better with the ever-evolving nature of music and the careers of those who make it. Never stop trying to learn more about the music business, and know that there are advocates out there, ready to help it make more sense.