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Music Publishing - Why DO I Need It? By Ilka T. De Leon

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Music Publishing… Why DO I need it?
By Ilka T. De León
Founder of Ange Jolie Publishing, Inc.

Music Publishing is often one of the least thought of elements in the music business. As artists we tend to focus on two things necessary for our success. The First is the recording of music. That is, after all, what generates our position as “recording artists.” It is also the epitome of our initial goals to allow our music to be recorded for distribution to fans across the world. The Second is performance. There is nothing like the excitement and rush of performing in front of a large crowd. It is by far one of the most addicting experiences a person can have. With those two elements alone one can consider themselves successful. Yet, what about the protection of your music? In other words how can you assure that your lyrics and composition are not replicated unlawfully and the credit given to someone else? In addition, if you have managed to get your music distributed, how do you protect your performance rights and collect royalties for your airplay?

These are just a few of the things that a Music Publisher will do for you if you are lucky enough to obtain their desire to partner with you and have interest in your work. While any individual can be their own music publisher, there are a number of items that become complicated which will eventually require the use of and partnership of a true publisher’s expertise to cover all of your bases. Obtaining a music publisher is much the same as getting signed by a record label. Music Publishers have A&R departments or individuals whose job it is to scout and discover new talent. Publishers seek artists, writers and composers (which can sometime be found in one place like with a skilled music producer) who can create music and develop “catalogs” of songs that will allow the publisher to exploit or “shop” the catalog in an effort to obtain licensing and/or placement opportunities.

Placements have many forms. It can mean the commitment by another artist for use of a song in the publishers catalog that they can record and release via their own projects. It can also mean the synchronization and licensing of a song in a film, advertisement or other work to be used as background music, performed on camera or as a theme. The success of this portion of music publishing, often referred to as exploitation, relies heavily on the publishers relationships with music managers, A&R executives, producers, and recording artists. It also requires a whole lot of luck. The truth is that it is very hard to obtain placements. The right time, right feel, and right imagery generated by a song can be a goldmine. Often times songs are made popular by their use in television and film, and today’s media technology has expanded that to also include web based shows and music or personal videos. All of which have royalty generating potential.

Music Publishers spend a significant amount of their time undertaking Administration tasks. It is the Administration of musical compositions that lead to the need for copyright registrations, coordination with record companies for audits of sales and royalties, collection of monies due for international play through performing rights organizations, etc. A copyright, the pairing of a composition and song lyrics together as a song, belong to the writer(s) and/or composer(s). It is that “right” that is registered with the appropriate office to protect the intellectual property belonging to said writer(s)/composer(s). It is that “right” that will then generate royalties for its performance around the world.

Like a manager, booking agent, or publicist, a music publisher is a key factor in the establishment and growth of an artist’s team. The publisher is a key player in the protection of the artist’s musical rights, as well as a key marketeer of the artist’s works that will hopefully create additional opportunities along the way. Ultimately they are there to assure that the use of your songs are legal and paid for.

Have questions about music publishing? We will be happy to take your questions and provide you with a “clue” of what you might need to know. While we cannot offer legal advice, we could certainly help demystify things for you. Let’s create a forum where you, the artist, become more informed and better educated about the industry that you so willingly have committed your talents to.

Keep Creating!

Ange Jolie Publishing, Inc.

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