Before we touch the base, let’s get the basics right.
Who is a Songwriter ?
One who has got notebooks full of song lyrics?
You don’t play an instrument, but you know the words you’ve written are not just heartfelt and powerful, they’re also destined to be a hit song. You can totally hear Arijit Singh or Papon singing your lyrics in the recording…if only you could just find a way to get your lyrics to them. So, are you a songwriter?
No. You are, in fact, a lyricist.
The words ‘lyricist’ and ‘songwriter’ are used interchangeably by many but there is a clear distinction and in order to sound professional and to pitch yourself in the right way, it’s important to use the right word.
A songwriter is one who writes lyrics and the main melody of the song. If you write lyrics and music, then you’re a songwriter. You don’t have to arrange every single musical element in the song to be a songwriter. For example, you don’t have to write the violin intro or the bass guitar parts. You just have to provide the general melodic structure of the song as well as the lyrics.
A sampling of music publishing companies
A music publisher functions much like a record label does for a band or performer.
They share many of the same goals for their songwriters that record labels have for the artists on their rosters.
A music publishing company will manage your songs and make sure that all of the royalties to which you are entitled are being collected. They go out and seek licensing opportunities for you, issue licenses for your works, and in some cases, they even get involved in the creative process with you. In exchange, the publisher collects a portion of the royalties and other income generated by the songs they represent.
Do You Need a Publisher At All?
As a songwriter, do you even need a publishing deal?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Music publishing can be very complex, and the work of licensing and royalty management is time-consuming. GiGlue.com believes that an artist should never get absorbed in the business side of his career. Though music publishing deals have pros and cons, having one may rather be a boon for your career.
Music is a digital global business now. Streaming platforms are everywhere. Revenue can come from anywhere. A music publisher can go out and get it for you while you write your next big hit.
So, before you think of going for a D-I-Y publishing, ask yourself few important questions. Do you have the knowledge to be as effective as your own publisher, and if you do, do you have the time to really make it work?
Publishing companies understand the value of publishing. They know how to price your work and can demand a price for your music that you may struggle to achieve on your own. Indeed, publishers do a number of things to help you navigate the complexities of the music industry.
Now that you know that a being a songwriter, a music publishing deal is something that lies in your favor, let’s move through how a Music Publishing Company does all this wonder for you.
1) A Publisher Helps You Grow
The publisher is your first supporter because you are the very basis of his business ! Once they have entered into an agreement with you, they assist you in the marketing and promotion of your songs among all potential users and — through their network of sub-publishers — they market and promote your songs in the rest of the world.
A music publisher sees that your work is properly registered all over the world and that it gets the maximum attention. To do this, they may help produce a good demo, get involved in A&R, sometimes co-produce the music video, assist the record company in the promotion/publicity of the record, find new uses for the recorded song (which helps also the record company), help fight unauthorised usages or piracy (together with the record company). They also promote your songs in the film and TV industry.
2) A Publisher Lets You Leverage their Connections
Say you’ve written what you believe will be the next ‘Billboard Number One’. For that song to gain the glory it deserves, it needs to end up in the hands of an artist who can perform it the way it needs to be performed.
An established publishing company can get your music into the hands of the people who can put it into the hands of top performers, which helps you make money.
A lot of songwriters themselves record and perform their songs. Being a singer/songwriter means you have two ways to make money from your work. Either way, a good publishing company can potentially take your career to the next level.
3) A Publisher Can Effectively Administer all your Royalties
In reality, it’s absolutely true that the person who writes a song has many more avenues available to them to make money from a song than do the musicians who perform it.
If you wrote a song and someone is making cash selling it, you should get at least some of it. You are entitled to various royalties like -
a) Mechanical Royalty
When individuals and labels distribute and sell your music, you get a share of it as royalty of your work. This also includes streaming services and digital downloads.
b) Performing Rights Royalty — A royalty is paid to a songwriter when one of their songs is played live. A live performance of a song doesn’t have to mean strictly a performance in a concert setting. A live performance of a song can also mean a public airing of a recorded version of a song, like a radio play, television play, digital services and play on websites, etc.
c) Sync Royalty — Anyone who synchronizes music to a visual to bring emotion to an otherwise musicless video and broadcasts it, owes the songwriter a royalty. Commercials, games, web content, documentary, plays,YouTube and other video platforms use a lot of it.
Music publishers can thus help you tap into these lucrative income streams and help you manage these otherwise difficult jobs.
4) A Publishing Company Is Much More than just an Accounting Firm
Instead of, say, waiting for some label to call looking for a song for one of their artists, the publishing company itself will call labels and others who may be in need of songs to place their songwriters’ work. In early stage of your songwriting career, you could benefit greatly from having a publishing company that offers you support and actively promotes your work.
5) A Publisher May Help Broaden Your Creative Horizon
Many publishing companies have entire departments devoted to helping their songwriters develop creatively. They may offer feedback on compositions, suggest new directions and pair up their songwriters with other writers who they think might make good writing partners.
However, this may not be the case always. A publishing company can completely keep its hands off any involvement in the creative process.
Record Label vs Publishing Company
Record labels are generally responsible for: developing the artist, working with producers, paying for/arranging studio time, mixing, mastering, graphics, packaging, distribution, and marketing.
The music publishing company is generally responsible for marketing the works of a songwriter to record labels, other artists, advertising agencies and production companies on behalf of the songwriter.
Although publishing deals can indeed be a very good thing, but make sure you understand what to expect from the company and that they are bringing something new to the table that you can’t create for yourself.
Much comes down to your style of music. Some genres tend to be “busier” in terms of publishing than others. If your publishing workload is generally light, then you may be able to manage your own song administration, either by yourself or by hiring someone to handle the paperwork for you.
Happy Songwriting and Publishing !!