The Two Most Common Types Of Publishing Deals For Artists & Songwriters
October 17, 2016
When I think about certain aspects that are the most complex in the music industry, the first thing that comes to mind is the area of music publishing. Music publishing is often complex for the industry professionals who work in publishing everyday from the songwriters to the actual publishing companies. The industry has been affected so much over the last few years due to the transition into the digital era of the industry. Let’s bring it back to the basics and discuss the two most common types of publishing deals. The first and most common type of deal is known as a co-publishing deal. The second type of publishing deal is known an administration deal.
Let’s talk about what a co-publishing deal means for songwriters and how their income is generated from this type of deal. Every song once it is written has a value percentage of 100%. The percentages are divided into a publisher’s share and writer’s share. A co-publishing deal means simply what it states that you share the publishing revenue with someone else (whether an individual or a company). The songwriter typically assigns 50% of the publishing share (usually for money). This can be done in a couple of different ways. The first way is to have the company give you an up-front advance, or a draw when it you get paid in semi annual, monthly, or quarterly payments. The reason why you are assigning over 50% of the value of a song to a publisher is because they are helping the songwriter pitch their catalogue of songs and ultimately sell them for either placement or sync licensing opportunities so obviously the publisher would want their fair share of the revenue generated from the songs within the catalogue that they pitched and ultimately sold. There are certain obligations that a songwriter must be aware of when signing this type of deal. A) Songwriters must write a minimum number of 100% songs that the signing entity considers commercially satisfactory for their purposes , and if you co-write any of the songs, then the co-written songs only count towards your minimum in the share that you end up retaining (i.e. two 50% co-writes equals one full song, three 33.33% co-writes equals one full song, etc.)
B) If you are not an artist, the agreement might also specify that you have what is referred to as a “record & release commitment.” This means that you must have a minimum number of songs recorded by any artist on a legitimate label and the songs must end up getting released and start to earn income.
When it comes to you receiving an advance on your co-publishing deal, that money must be re-couped (paid back). Essentially in the 50/50 co-pub deal, it’s like taking a baking loan with very high interest. If a songwriter is newly signed to a company and hasn’t really gained much leverage in their negotiating power, then you may have to give up complete control to the publisher (even though they retain their 50% of their writers share). Make sure to obtain some reputable legal counsel when negotiating your co-publishing deal.
The second type of publishing deal is a admin deal. This type of publishing deal in which you don’t assign your publishing away. As a songwriter under this type of deal you retain 100% of your publishing an a third party administrator to do all things administrative relating to your songs. Some of these things include P.R.O. registrations, registrations in the U.S. Copyright Office, worldwide registrations through sub-publishers to collect your foreign income, negotiating and issuing licenses, collecting your royalties from all sources, etc. Songwriters do have to give up a percentage to the publisher for these rendered services on your behalf. This percentage is usually around 10-15% for domestic income and 15-20% for foreign income.
When it comes to an artist’s career as an independent artist and songwriter who self-release their music by default own 100% of their publishing and receive all of the revenue generated as long as they are registered with their P.R.O. as a publisher. Having publishing for your songs is extremely important to your career because the intellectual property that you create one time can and should take care of you financially for the rest of your life as a creator.
Till Next Time
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