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Songwriter: How To Own A Publishing Company Songwriter: How To Own A Publishing Company


Songwriter: How To Own A Publishing Company

Written by: Lauryn Tindall

Learn how songwriters can establish and manage their own publishing company. Discover key strategies for success in the music industry.

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Becoming a successful songwriter is a dream for many music enthusiasts. Crafting lyrics and melodies that resonate with audiences requires skill, passion, and creativity. However, in addition to creating captivating music, songwriters must also understand the business side of the industry. One crucial aspect of this is music publishing.

As a songwriter, owning a publishing company can provide numerous benefits. It allows you to retain control over the rights to your songs, manage their licensing, and collect royalties. Furthermore, owning a publishing company can provide opportunities to work with other talented songwriters and artists, expanding your network and influence within the music industry.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of music publishing and guide you through the process of setting up and managing your own publishing company. From understanding the fundamentals of music publishing to registering your songs and building essential relationships, we will explore the key steps to help you navigate the world of music publishing as a songwriter.

Whether you are an aspiring songwriter looking to establish your presence in the industry or a seasoned professional seeking greater control over your music, the insights shared in this article will equip you with the knowledge and guidance to embark on the journey of owning a successful publishing company. Let's dive into the world of music publishing and discover how you can elevate your songwriting career by taking ownership of your creative work.


Understanding Music Publishing

Music publishing is a vital aspect of the music industry that deals with the ownership and management of musical compositions. As a songwriter, understanding the fundamentals of music publishing is essential for safeguarding your creative work and maximizing its potential for success. Here's a comprehensive overview of the key components of music publishing:

  1. Rights and Royalties: Music publishing involves the administration of various rights associated with a song, including mechanical, performance, synchronization, and print rights. These rights enable the song to be reproduced, performed, synchronized with visual media, and printed as sheet music. As the owner of a publishing company, you have the authority to grant licenses for these rights in exchange for royalties.

  2. Copyright Protection: When you create a song, it is automatically protected by copyright law. As the copyright owner, you have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display your work. By establishing a publishing company, you can formally register your copyrights and enforce your rights against unauthorized use of your music.

  3. Royalty Collection: Music publishers play a crucial role in collecting royalties on behalf of songwriters. They monitor the usage of songs, ensure proper licensing, and collect royalties from various sources such as streaming services, radio airplay, live performances, and more. Owning a publishing company allows you to directly oversee the royalty collection process, ensuring that you receive fair compensation for the use of your compositions.

  4. Licensing and Placement: Publishing companies facilitate the licensing of songs for use in films, TV shows, commercials, and other media. They also seek opportunities to place songs with recording artists and collaborate with other industry professionals to enhance the visibility and commercial potential of the compositions.

  5. Global Reach: Music publishing extends beyond domestic borders, involving international copyright laws and royalty collection. A publishing company can help you navigate the complexities of global music publishing, expanding the reach of your songs and ensuring that you receive royalties from international usage.

Understanding the intricacies of music publishing empowers songwriters to protect their intellectual property, generate income from their creations, and explore diverse opportunities within the music industry. By gaining a comprehensive grasp of music publishing, you can effectively manage the commercial exploitation of your songs and lay a solid foundation for the success of your publishing company.


Setting Up Your Publishing Company

Setting up your own publishing company is a significant milestone in your journey as a songwriter. It not only grants you control over the administration and licensing of your songs but also establishes a professional entity through which you can conduct business within the music industry. Here's a detailed guide on the essential steps to set up your publishing company:

  1. Choose a Name: Select a unique and memorable name for your publishing company. Ensure that the name aligns with your brand as a songwriter and reflects the essence of your musical identity.

  2. Legal Structure: Decide on the legal structure of your publishing company. Options include operating as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Each structure has distinct implications for taxation, liability, and management, so it's crucial to choose the most suitable option for your business.

  3. Register Your Business: Once you've determined the legal structure, register your publishing company with the appropriate government authorities. This typically involves obtaining a business license and registering the company name to ensure legal compliance and formal recognition of your business entity.

  4. Obtain a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) Affiliation: Join a performing rights organization such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. These organizations play a vital role in collecting performance royalties for songwriters. By affiliating with a PRO, you can register your songs, track performances, and receive royalties when your music is played publicly.

  5. Establish a Catalog of Songs: Compile a catalog of your original songs that will be administered by your publishing company. This involves documenting the details of each song, including the songwriter(s), publishing company information, and ownership percentages.

  6. Create a Business Plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your publishing company's objectives, target market, marketing strategies, and financial projections. A well-crafted business plan serves as a roadmap for your company's growth and can be instrumental in securing partnerships and investment opportunities.

  7. Open a Business Bank Account: Separate your personal finances from your publishing company by opening a dedicated business bank account. This ensures proper financial management and facilitates the tracking of income and expenses related to your music publishing activities.

  8. Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits: Depending on your location and business activities, you may need to acquire specific licenses and permits for your publishing company. Research the regulatory requirements in your jurisdiction and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

By following these steps, you can establish a solid foundation for your publishing company and position yourself for success in the music publishing landscape. Owning a publishing company empowers you to take charge of your creative works, maximize revenue opportunities, and build a reputable presence within the music industry.


Registering Your Songs and Collecting Royalties

Registering your songs and effectively collecting royalties are pivotal tasks for any songwriter who owns a publishing company. This process ensures that your creative works are officially recognized, protected, and monetized, allowing you to reap the financial rewards of your musical endeavors. Here's a comprehensive exploration of the steps involved in registering your songs and maximizing royalty collection:

Copyright Registration

The first step in safeguarding your songs is to register them with the relevant copyright authorities. In the United States, this involves submitting an application to the U.S. Copyright Office, providing detailed information about each composition. By obtaining official copyright registration, you establish a legal record of your ownership and gain the ability to pursue legal action against infringement.

Catalog Management

Maintaining a well-organized catalog of your songs is essential for efficient royalty collection. Each composition in your catalog should be meticulously documented, including the songwriter(s), publishing company details, and ownership percentages. This comprehensive catalog serves as a valuable asset for tracking and managing the usage of your songs across various platforms.

Affiliation with Performance Rights Organizations

Affiliating with performance rights organizations (PROs) is instrumental in the collection of performance royalties. PROs such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC monitor the public performance of music and ensure that songwriters receive compensation for such usage. By affiliating with a PRO, you can register your songs, track performances, and receive royalties from radio airplay, live performances, and other public uses of your music.

Mechanical Royalties

As a songwriter and publisher, you are entitled to mechanical royalties when your songs are reproduced and distributed. This includes digital downloads, streaming, physical sales, and other forms of distribution. Registering your songs with mechanical rights organizations or agencies enables you to collect mechanical royalties from various sources, ensuring that you are fairly compensated for the reproduction of your compositions.

Synchronization and Print Rights

In addition to performance and mechanical royalties, your publishing company can generate revenue through synchronization and print rights. Synchronization licenses allow your songs to be used in visual media such as films, TV shows, and commercials, while print rights pertain to the publication and distribution of sheet music. By actively pursuing licensing opportunities and managing these rights, you can expand the commercial potential of your songs and generate additional income streams.

Global Royalty Collection

The global reach of music publishing necessitates the management of international royalty collection. Your publishing company should establish partnerships with foreign collection societies and agencies to ensure that you receive royalties from international usage of your songs. This involves navigating the complexities of international copyright laws and leveraging networks to maximize royalty collection on a global scale.

By diligently registering your songs and implementing robust strategies for royalty collection, you can optimize the financial returns from your creative works and solidify the financial foundation of your publishing company. Effective management of royalties not only rewards your artistic endeavors but also sustains the growth and longevity of your songwriting career.


Building and Maintaining Relationships

Establishing and nurturing relationships within the music industry is a fundamental aspect of owning a publishing company as a songwriter. These connections can open doors to collaboration opportunities, licensing deals, and increased exposure for your songs. Building and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders can significantly impact the success and longevity of your publishing company. Here's a detailed exploration of the strategies and approaches to effectively foster meaningful relationships within the music industry:

Collaboration with Artists and Producers

Collaborating with talented artists and producers can elevate the quality and commercial appeal of your songs. By forging partnerships with artists whose musical style aligns with your compositions, you can co-create compelling tracks that resonate with diverse audiences. Additionally, collaborating with reputable producers can enhance the production value of your music, making it more attractive to potential licensees and listeners.

Networking with Music Industry Professionals

Attending industry events, conferences, and networking functions provides valuable opportunities to connect with music industry professionals. Building a strong network of contacts, including music supervisors, A&R representatives, and entertainment attorneys, can lead to placements in films, TV shows, and commercials. Engaging in genuine conversations and actively seeking mutually beneficial collaborations can solidify your presence within the industry.

Cultivating Relationships with Music Publishers and Sync Agencies

Establishing partnerships with music publishers and synchronization agencies can expand the reach of your songs and increase their potential for placement in visual media. By proactively reaching out to reputable publishing entities and sync agencies, you can explore avenues for licensing your music and securing synchronization opportunities. Building rapport with these industry players can result in fruitful partnerships that amplify the exposure and commercial viability of your compositions.

Engaging with Performing Rights Organizations

Maintaining a positive and communicative relationship with performing rights organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC is essential for effective royalty collection and performance monitoring. Regularly updating your PRO on new compositions, performances, and changes in ownership ensures that you receive accurate and timely royalties for the public use of your music. Collaborating with your PRO can streamline the royalty collection process and maximize your earnings from performances.

Supporting Emerging Songwriters and Artists

Actively supporting emerging songwriters and artists can foster a sense of camaraderie within the music community and position your publishing company as a supportive and collaborative entity. Providing mentorship, co-writing opportunities, or guidance on music publishing can cultivate long-lasting relationships with emerging talents, potentially leading to future collaborative projects and mutual career growth.

Leveraging Social Media and Online Platforms

Utilizing social media and online platforms to engage with fans, industry professionals, and fellow songwriters can facilitate the development of meaningful connections. Sharing insights into your creative process, participating in online music communities, and showcasing your work can attract attention and create opportunities for collaboration and networking. Leveraging the power of digital platforms can extend the reach of your publishing company and facilitate relationship-building on a global scale.

By actively implementing these relationship-building strategies, you can fortify the foundation of your publishing company and position yourself for sustained success within the dynamic landscape of the music industry. Cultivating genuine and mutually beneficial connections with artists, industry professionals, and music entities can yield transformative opportunities for your songs and contribute to the enduring growth of your publishing company.



Owning a publishing company as a songwriter is a significant undertaking that empowers you to protect, promote, and monetize your creative works. Through a deep understanding of music publishing, the establishment of a publishing company, diligent registration of songs, and strategic relationship-building, you can position your music for success and longevity within the industry.

As you embark on the journey of owning a publishing company, it is crucial to recognize the multifaceted nature of music publishing and its profound impact on your songwriting career. By comprehensively grasping the intricacies of rights management, copyright protection, and royalty collection, you can navigate the complexities of the music business with confidence and foresight.

Setting up your publishing company involves deliberate planning, legal considerations, and a clear vision for the future. From choosing a distinct company name to affiliating with performing rights organizations and developing a robust business plan, each step contributes to the establishment of a professional and sustainable entity within the music industry.

Registering your songs and maximizing royalty collection are pivotal tasks that ensure the recognition and financial reward for your musical endeavors. By meticulously managing your catalog, affiliating with PROs, and pursuing licensing opportunities, you can optimize the revenue potential of your compositions and lay a solid foundation for the growth of your publishing company.

Furthermore, building and maintaining relationships with artists, industry professionals, and music entities are essential for expanding the reach and impact of your music. Collaborative partnerships, networking efforts, and genuine engagement within the music community can open doors to transformative opportunities and elevate the visibility of your publishing company on a global scale.

In conclusion, owning a publishing company as a songwriter is not merely a business endeavor; it is a testament to your dedication to your craft and a commitment to the sustainable growth of your musical legacy. By embracing the principles of music publishing, nurturing your publishing company, and fostering meaningful relationships within the industry, you can embark on a fulfilling and prosperous journey as a songwriter and music entrepreneur. As you navigate the dynamic landscape of music publishing, may your publishing company serve as a beacon of creativity, integrity, and enduring success within the ever-evolving realm of music.

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