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Insights Of Music Publishing & Benefits For An Independent Artist

Making music is more than the singer matching notes with the pianist at a keyboard or a producer changing levels to perfect a track. There is a whole other side to music production which is music publishing and mastering. It’s understandable to think that anything other than the creative side of music seems like needless red tape. However, knowing as much as you can about music publishing and the ownership of songs, gives you a leg-up as an artist. Also, if you have ever written and recorded a song and wondered what to do next, then you no longer have to feel lost. Instead, you can feel empowered when knowing about owning the rights to your music and what the difference is between publishing and mastering rights.

What is music publishing and who is a music publisher?

A song is intellectual property. If you must know anything right off hand about music publishing- it’s about owning your intellectual property and generating money from your artistic work- money as in royalties. For a songwriter or song owner, music publishing is about owning the rights to reproduce and make copies of your tracks or allow someone else to. A music publisher can be a publishing company which ensures songwriters are paid for their compositions when used commercially.

Recording and Composition

Before we can jump into the fine details of music publishing, there are two significant distinctions to be aware of: the recording and composition of a song. These critical aspects are where publishing rights and mastering rights differ.

There are two sides to every song: composition. This involves the lyrics, the structure, the written music, and overall performance of the song. The first recording of the song with vocals and/or instruments is technically known as the master. Think of the first recording as the baseline for every other record of your track.

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What is the difference between publishing rights and master rights?

Once you have your piece published, it’s important to look after it’s rights. The owner of a song’s publishing rights has copyright privileges to a song’s composition. Since you are the owner of the song, you have the say in who and who cannot use your music. Unless you have agreed to sign over the right to someone else like a record label, the distribution is in your hands.

If you own the master rights, you then own the actual recording of a song’s sound. The owner is usually the person/company that financed the recording. With a master right, you can give permission to someone else to use your song in a project and so on.

  • Royalties: Publishing vs Mastering 

When your music becomes the next best thing, people are going to want to buy your EPs and albums. There will be opportunities when your track has a chance to be played in restaurants or stores.  Knowing a thing or two about publishing and master rights can get your gears turning about how to receive royalties.

If you wrote a song and you own the publishing rights, government-mandated publishing royalties must be paid to you when other people/companies use your music. As a record label who decides to make copies of your songs results in you getting mechanical royalties. If a movie or TV show wants to use your music to make their visuals standout, you can receive sync royalties. If the radio, restaurant or any other outside entity use your tracks this earns you public performance royalties. Master royalties come into play after selling copies of albums or tracks through iTunes including streaming services and record labels. 

Music publishing isn’t as much of an unmoving monolith as you may have thought. As an independent and emerging artist, you can know what the pros are about owning the rights to your songs. When you’re picked up by a recording label that wants you as their premier artist/group or giving your sound directly to your audience, you can make sure to protect what you worked so hard to create.

Want More Information? Watch This Video Below About Music Publishing: