Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Publishing (a brief overview)

As an artist I’m sure you’ve heard the term publishing used but many artists have no clue on what publishing actually is or what a publisher does. A publisher has many duties, the most important of these duties is to exploit your music, collect royalties and release those royalties to songwriters and composers for the commercial use of their compositions. They also license the use of the music and help to promote compositions to others who may have need to use it, including recording artists, TV and film. There are a few different types of publishing companies. Some companies provide administration services including licensing and registration. Some pay advances against future earnings. These are typically known as independent and major publishers and these companies typically go the extra mile to ensure your work is fully exploited. There are also different types of royalties that are collected by publishing companies. These royalties include Performance Rights Royalties, Mechanical Royalties and Synchronization Royalties. Performance rights royalties are earned when your music is broadcast on the radio (assuming that the radio station reports to the performance rights organizations) or other means of broadcast. These royalties are collected by performance rights organizations (Called PROs). The 3 PROs in the U.S are BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. These companies provide the same primary services. The primary difference between any of them is that some may charge a fee and some may not. When dealing with PROs you may hear the phrase “pay is based on 200%’. This is split into 100% songwriter royalty going to the songwiter and 100% of the publishers royalties going to the publisher. If you elect to act as your own publisher you would receive the entire 200% (i.e 100% of total royalties earned). SoundExchange is a different type of PRO. SoundExchange collects revenue for record labels and artists (rather than songwriter and composers) for digital music. Mechanical Royalties are derived from the sale of CD’s and collection is handled by Harry Fox Agency and the American Mechanical Rights Agency. Synchronization Rights come from the use of music in television and film, and to a lower extent live theater performances. While performance rights and mechanical royalties have standard rates, the royalty rate for synchronization differs depending on the specifics of the license (synch license) obtained. Being affiliated with the proper companies listed above is a must in order for the publisher to collect fees on your behalf. If you do not have a publisher you may act as your own and, for a fee, can sign up with the organizations listed above as a publisher. After you sign with the companies above you want to make sure you sign up with BDS and Media Base. These companies report to the PROs. You are now ready to get paid for the broadcasting of your music.

My Introduction

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Smooth. I'm CEO of UGF Entertainment and UGF Digital.

I am also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (The Recording Academy), a corporate member of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and an executive member of the National Association of Record Industry Professionals.

My goal is to see artists succeed. Knowledge is key and many artists don't know how to obtain this knowledge. I have over 10 years of experience in the business, as a songwriter, manager, consultant and distributor. I am currently writing a book on the inner working of the digital music industry, scheduled for a 2014 release.

I also write for many magazines around the country, including Hood Illustrated Magazine. I write articles related to the music industry, specifically targeting those in the business or those wishing to start a career in the music industry.

On this blog we will talk about topics that concern the artists and labels. Feel free to reach out to me, via email at, with any topics you want to see covered here.