Thursday, March 30, 2023

How To Start Your Own Music Publishing Company

Establish Your Business Structure

How To Start Your Own Music Publishing

We know, we know, cant we just skip ahead to the fun part, like choosing a company name? Not just yet, theres some important groundwork to be laid first, like deciding exactly what type of company you are looking to start.

Businesses come in many shapes and forms. When it comes to publishing in most territories, the main choices are:

  • Sole proprietorship: a business operated and owned by one person. The simplest business form, but not the most risk-free .
  • Corporation: a group of people or an organization authorized to manage the company as a single entity. A more complex business form.
  • Partnership: two or more parties contractually agree to manage and operate a business
  • LLC: provides the protection of assets that a corporation receives with versatility and pass-through tax benefits of a partnership or sole proprietorship .

Most authors will decide to start their own publishing companies as an LLC or sole proprietorship, as these are the most flexible and simple business forms of the bunch. However, our personal suggestion is that you set up as an LLC. As mentioned before, LLCs offer the most liability protection, meaning your personal assets are protected from any debts incurred by the business.

For more information on what structure best suits your goals, check out the Small Business Administration.

How To Start A Publishing Company

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With the many technological advances that have come with computers and the Internet, it is easier than ever before to start and run your own publishing company. Knowing how to start a publishing company and the steps involved in taking a book from idea to publication is an important way to communicate ideas with the world, but before you begin thinking about what to publish, you’ll need to know how to publish.

The Advantages Of Having Your Own Music Publishing Company

Independent artist OR independent music publisher who do you think is more credible? In the music industry, representation is everything. Indie artists havent built up the best reputation.

The fact that you went through the process of setting up your own independent music publishing company is what distinguishes you from the masses.

Music publishers also facilitate the clearance process .

If youre responsible enough to go through all that bureaucracy, music supervisors and production companies will be much more inclined to work with you .

Thats one of the main advantages of having your own music publishing company.

Here are some others:

  • Set your own prices
  • Command higher prices
  • Collect 100% of royalties and sync fees
  • Keep control of your entire catalog

Overall, its much more profitable to operate your own independent music publishing company. However, its MUCH more difficult.

Its not for everybody, thats for sure!

If youre not into the idea of signing your music over to other entities , then maybe youll be happier doing most of the work on your own.

I didnt write this article for the masses, so maybe youre one of the few.

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Summary: How To Start An Independent Music Publishing Company

If you made it to the end of this article, congratulations!

You must be pretty serious about starting your own independent music publishing company.

We basically went over the steps required to make this possible, but youll see that each step is its own task. Take your time and do things right the first time.

I never heard of anybody being in a rush to start a music publishing company .

To summarize though, here are the steps youll need to go through:

  • Name your company
  • Purchase a domain name
  • Register your music publishing company with the government
  • Open a business bank account for your music publishing company
  • Register your music publishing company with your PRO/PRS
  • Rent and/or create your own music streaming/licensing platform

I personally recommend the domain registration step, but others dont seem to.

Its up to you, but were in the 21st century now Remember that.

I also recommend setting up one websites to start branding your music publishing company. Maybe it becomes an extension of your blog

Thats what Decibel Peak started as.

Through SEO optimization, you can start generating some serious traffic to your website and thats how potential customers will find out about you.

Social media is also an excellent option, although its much less evergreen.

Anyway, Im getting ahead of myself here. Just keep in mind that theres more work to do.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time. Heres to your INDEPENDENCE!!

Register With The Copyright Office

Give you my ebook on how to start your own music ...

Moving right along to the third step of starting your own publishing company, let us briefly encourage you to register your copyrights with the Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

Copyright registration is the process of officially filing a public notice with the Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. that you are indeed the author/owner of a song upon a specific date. Registration provides you with a number of important benefits including 1) the rebuttable presumption of ownership, 2) the right to sue, and 3) the right to receive statutory or actual damages.

The fee to register your copyrights using paper forms is $125 per registration. The fee to register your copyrights electronically is $45 per registration or $65 per work per registration . To initially save money, you can also register several copyrights together as a group of unpublished works on one registration for $55. But that being said, note that once your copyrights are published, it is recommended to go back and register each copyright individually.

If you have any further questions regarding how to fill out a copyright form, the Copyright Office will be more than happy to assist you. Please call the Copyright Public Information Office at 202-707-3000 or visit their website at

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Purchase A Domain Name For Your Music Publishing Company

Most of the guides I read on starting a music publishing company FAILED to mention anything about purchasing a domain name. Maybe it wasnt as important back in the day, but nowadays its MORE essential than having an office.

Your domain name is your virtual place of business in todays world.

Its also an additional step to verify whether or not the name you chose is truly UNIQUE.

It doesnt matter which domain name registrar you use. For example, you can use to search for your 2-3 potential names and hopefully your favourite will be available.

Regardless of what anyone else says, you want the .COM domain.

If someone already has it registered and you think the .ORG or .NET domain will allow you to get away with it

If anything, youll just be creating confusion and problems for yourself down the road.

That being said, make sure the name you choose has the .COM domain available and if possible, purchase as many variations of the name as possible.

For example, I personally own

Sure, itll set your back.

Get used to it though, businesses cost money.

Once youve found your UNIQUE domain name and have it registered, you can simply park it for now. However, I recommend creating a website as soon as possible.

Owning the domain name isnt enough to prove ownership.

Well be talking more about that stuff later, but for now just purchase the domain name.

// Legally Establish Yourself As A Business

Once your application has been accepted, its time to legally establish yourself as a business as per the requirements of your state. To figure out what you need, youll need to visit your Secretary of States office and/or the County Clerk website.

Since you probably arent a big corporation, youll most likely need to file a fictitious name statement. What this does is 1) states that you are clearly doing business under a name that is not your own and it is legal to do so, and 2) lets you open a bank account and/or cash checks made out to that name if you need to.

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The Responsibilities Of Having Your Own Music Publishing Company

With great responsibility comes great power! Yes, you read that right.

If youre the type of person that cringes at the thought of additional responsibility, you shouldve stopped reading LONG AGO.

For those of you who never grow tired of working, youll enjoy the responsibilities associated with operating your own independent music publishing company.

First of all, what does a music publishing company even do?

Other than that, youll also want to respect your jurisdictions obligations in regards to the type of business you registered as.

For example, businesses that earn above a certain threshold are obliged to collect sales taxes on behalf of the government.

If you dont do it, youll be paying out of your own pockets!

Once again, were going passed the scope of this article so make sure to inform yourself and to do your research before taking on this kind of responsibility.

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How To Register Your Own Music Publishing Company in South Africa

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Music Streaming/licensing Platforms For Your Music Publishing Company

If we cant find/listen to your music catalog on the internet GOOD LUCK!! Now, there are plenty of ready-made music streaming/licensing platforms, but which one is THE one?

Maybe you want to focus on music licensing?

If thats the case, you may want to avoid music streaming services like Spotify.

That means youll need to find a platform to host your entire music catalog which can become quite costly .

The current industry standard is SourceAudio.

Thats actually what Ive been using, but its only temporary. SourceAudio is alright, but I personally dont like it.

Heres why:

  • Inability to customize the look/feel
  • Inability to use your own URL
  • Its very expensive once you pass 100 tracks
  • Complete functionality requires you to purchase upsells

Thats why Im currently designing my own platform .

Once its finished, I might be sharing it with you so stay tuned for that!

Other than that though, there isnt much out there . SoundCloud is definitely NOT an option if you want to even appear remotely professional. I still use it for my teasers though .

Now, there are other SourceAudio-like platforms out there, but they usually share the same disadvantages.

AND lets face it WordPress wasnt designed for music publishing. Okay?

In conclusion, there arent many options out there except if youre willing to hire your own web developer or get your hands dirty and start coding your own platform .

Ill update this section once I finish the tool Im working on!

How To Start A Music Publishing Company: The Basics

So how do you start a music publishing company?

Almost the same way you start any other company:

  • Think about music publishing company name ideas This can be any name you like, of course. Most publishing companies have the word publishing or songs in their name.
  • Put together your business plan which includes an elevator pitch, company description, market research & analysis, competition, financial summary, contingency plan etc. Its worth researching how to put together a solid business plan. Take your time with it!
  • Once youve set up your company , youll need to become a member of a performance collection society. Theyll represent your interests as a music publisher and collect performance royalties for you. Theyll be an important part of your business from going forward.

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    The Music Publisher’s Role

    This section does not cite any . Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

    Successful songwriters and composers have a relationship with a publishing company defined by a publishing contract. Publishers also sometimes provide substantial advances against future income. In return, the publishing company receives a percentage, which can be as high as 50% and varies for different kinds of royalty.

    There are several types of royalty: mechanical royalties derive from the sale of recorded music, such as CDs or digital downloads. These royalties are paid to publishers by record companies . Performance royalties are collected by performance rights organizations such as SESAC, BMI, ASCAP or PRS and are paid by radio stations and others who broadcast recorded music and are paid by venues, event organizers for live performances of the compositions. Synchronization royalties are required when a composition is used in a film or television soundtrack. These royalties typically pass through the hands of a music publisher before they reach the composer.

    This section does not cite any . Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

    Choose A Pro And Submit Your Application As A Publisher

    How to Write A Business Plan for a Music Publishing Company

    You’ll need to join a collection society as a music publisher. If youre already affiliated with one as a songwriter, youll want to apply it to your publishing company as well. If youre not yet affiliated, take some time to familiarize yourself with all the options that are out there. ASCAP and BMI are the major PROs in the United States SESAC is only open by invitation.

    If you plan to have multiple songwriter clients of your publishing company, and not just yourself, you will need to set up publishing affiliations with all the U.S. PROs, because in order to publish works by a songwriter registered with one of the U.S. PROs, you must have a publishing company registered with that PRO. This restriction does not apply to songwriters outside of the U.S.: you can publish a songwriter affiliated with any global PRO using any of your U.S. PRO affiliations. I.e., If youre affiliated with ASCAP, you cannot use that affiliation to register songs for a songwriter client who is affiliated with BMI, but you can use your ASCAP affiliation to register songs for a songwriter client who is affiliated with GEMA .

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    First What Is A Music Publishing Company

    To the uninitiated, a music publishing company, or simply, a publisher, is an entity or individual that handles the administrative rights of your music.

    What are administrative rights?

    When you make a deal with a publisher, you give them the rights to find various commercial uses for your songs. These uses could involve radio play, TV commercials, concert performances, nightclub plays, and so on. In other words, anywhere there is money to be made from music, your music can be involved in it, therefore offering you the opportunity for further financial success.

    The process of turning your music into a business requires administrative tasks. But many artists will hand off the responsibilities, or business rights, to a third-party instead.

    And there is nothing wrong with that.

    This third-party person is the publisher. They will handle the administrative rights for you, and for that, you enter into an agreement with them, which requires an incentive for them to work with you.

    Publishers Agreement

    What a music publishing company requires is that you assign the copyright in your songs to them. This gives them the right to act on your behalf for all business undertakings involving the use of your music.

    For that, its standard that a 50/50 percent split in royalties will be paid out to both of you for the partnership. So, for every $1 your song earns in royalties, youll receive .50¢, and your publisher keeps .50¢.

    Self Publishing

    Good for you, youve come to the right post.

    Apply For A Business License For Your Music Publishing Company

    As a starting music publishing company it is important you get your documents in order. Consult a business lawyer to help you establish the legal side of your business. Consider working on getting stuff like business licenses, permits, sales permits and others done. Get all the documents over with before you begin your operation so as you can focus entirely on your work and business.

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    The Pros And Cons Of Starting A Music Distribution Company

    The music industry is a wonderful place to work. Music distribution requires lots of enthusiasm and determination along with a love for songs.

    The industry is fiercely competitive. However, once you make it, it is one of the most fulfilling and financially rewarding industries.

    Here are some key points you need to consider.

    Types Of Music Publishing Companies

    How to Start A Music Publishing Company

    There are two types of music publisher major publishers and independent publishers

    There are only three major music publishers: Sony/ATV, Warner Chappel Music and Universal Music Publishing Group better known by their parent companies names as the three major record labels . Of course, there used to be the iconic EMI Records which is now split amongst some of these labels!

    Any other music publisher is considered an independent music publisher.

    Before the invention of recorded music, music publishers were companies that published sheet music for the general public and institutions to purchase. Back then, the only way to consume music was to purchase sheet music and play it yourself. Music publishers were just like the magazine and book publishers of the time, except they published musical notation.

    As technology progressed, the music publishers role evolved into what it is today.

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