Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Music Publishing: Admin v. Co-Publishing

Dear Rich: May I ask for some advice towards various factors that may affect income (including net receipts/at source deals) between administration and co-publishing deal? The biggest factor is the reputation and trustworthiness of the company you're dealing with. If the company doesn't have a rep for timely and accurate payments, it's not worth signing on the dotted line. The second most important factor is you. If you're a songwriter who can pave your own way as a performer and attract attention and deals, then an administration deal is all you need (and will probably be more profitable). If you're a songwriter who needs the muscle of an aggressive song publisher to get your tunes into TV, movies or the hands of other artists, a co-publishing deal (with the right publisher) will generate more income. In either case, the third most important factor is the length of the arrangement. The shorter the time period -- say five years if you can manage it -- the better for you as it allows you to either eject from a potentially unfortunate arrangement, or renew a profitable one. You're more likely to get a short deal with an admin agreement.
Differences ... As you're aware a music publisher is a company that owns and profits from song copyrights. Some music publishers serve solely as "administrators," making sure you're properly registered with performing right societies and collecting revenue. For these tasks of managing your songwriting business they collect a fee, for example, 5 to 25% of your revenues. A co-publishing deal requires that you give up more, including half of the copyright, in the hopes that you'll get more in return. The co-publisher earns 25% to 50% or more of the songwriting arrangement under a convoluted system that's discussed in more detail in our Music Law book. We talk about the differences in a previous entry.

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