A music publishing company (music publisher) is responsible for ensuring songwriters and composers receive payment when their musical compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer “assigns” or transfers the copyright of their composition to a publishing company.
Music publishing companies will manage composers’ songs and make sure that all the royalties due to them are collected. They will usually actively work to make the songs “move harder”. Music publishing companies’ basic functions are to make deals with songwriters and music composers, promote the songs to anyone who may need a song for whatever reason (advertising, a movie, a promotional campaign, etc). These companies issue licenses for the use of the songs they represent and also collect licensing fees. Thus, the company licenses compositions, help monitor where compositions are used, collect royalties and distributes them to the composers. In exchange, the music publisher will get a cut of income generated by your songs.
Royalties due to artists often go unpaid. Publishers ensure their artistes get paid. One way to collect monies due is to conduct audits of licensees and go on the “hunt for the money”. Further, publishing companies understand the value of publishing. They know how to price works and can demand suitable price for music that the artiste may struggle to achieve individually
Publishing, in the real sense, can be very tricky: Mechanical royalties, licenses, and accounting are some of the things publishers do to help songwriters navigate the complexities of the music industry. These can be learned by the artiste (or music composer), but it can take a very long time to completely understand publishing. Publishers, on the other hand, know publishing. They know how to protect artistes’ rights from the start.
Protection of these rights can be done via ensuring publishing split sheets are signed.
What is a publishing Split Sheet?
“A publishing split sheet is an agreement between two or more music creators(composers/artistes) that establishes the publishing percentages each individual owns in the song”.
A split sheet is a document that lays out who owns what part(s) of a song. It should ordinarily contain the following: Song title, Legal name of the artiste/producer, Stage name, Address (Physical / Mail), Designation of the parties, Split Percentages, Name of publishing company, Name of performing rights organization, Date, Signatures of all parties.
It is important that composers (artistes) attest to a split sheet and also ensure the information on the split sheet is correct and the percentages total 100%. It allows respective publishers and collecting societies determine how much money to collect for its member.
A split sheet allows the parties to adjust the percentages based on contribution to the song, or other factors BEFORE the record or song is a hit and starts earning money!
Music Publishers can enter into sub-publishing and collection agreements on behalf and for their clients. Music publishers, most times are knowledgeable and know about new technology and the licensing of additional revenue streams such as ringtones. It is no secret that ‘Telcos’ make tons of revenue from the works of music composers, Music publishers are subsequently tasked with the responsibility of getting what their clients are entitled to.
The major myth about music publishing is that it is solely for established artistes and music composers, while it’s true that most music publishers focus on a small group of artistes and music composers who have already achieved traditional success, music publishing is a part of the industry that music composers and artistes at all levels can focus on. From registering and protection of copyrights to collecting royalties and licensing of music, there’s no minimum amount of money an artiste needs to be earning to start taking this vital part of his/her career seriously.