Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Music Publishing and Administration Deals

Dear Rich: Can you explain the difference between a music publishing deal and an administration deal? Sure! In an administration deal  (also known as an "admin deal"), a music publisher exploits song copyrights but doesn't own them and the publisher usually earns a smaller percentage of the song's income than in a straight publishing deal - perhaps 25% compared to 50%. An administration deal is also limited to a number of years -- for example, a 5 or 10 year period whereas in a straight publishing deal (or in a variation such as a co-publishing deal), the music publisher acquires ownership of the song copyright and the term is often for the length of copyright protection (or it may be terminated after 35 years under copyright law).
Many choices. There are many, many variations on both types of deal -- for example, the arrangement might be for a complete catalog, just a few songs, or perhaps even for songs that will be written in the future -- and the deals may include varying percentages and advances. Most importantly, some publishers actively "work" songs in various media, while other publishers just sit back and wait for deals or performance royalties to roll in. As a bottom line for admin or regular publishing deals, the music publisher should guard against infringements, collect royalties, and see that the songwriter gets paid. Although this wikipedia article states that "Only the most popular song writers can even consider asking for an admin deal," we don't agree at all. Many obscure songwriters -- the Dear Rich Staff included -- have acquired admin deals with established music publishers. For more tips for songwriters, check out our article on the subject.
PS Dept. Speaking of music publishing revenue ... Elton John's song, Candle in the Wind, is believed to be the most "played" song of all time.