How can I make the most of my relationship with my publisher?

By Juan Aguilar.

Composers’ Manager

Music publishers are organizations essentially concerned with protecting and managing your copyrights, which are your musical compositions. In order for publishing revenue (like mechanical and performance royalties) to be generated, your musical work must be registered with the collection societies worldwide like GEMA, ASCAP, The MLC, Harry Fox Agency, SACEM, SAMRO and CAPASSO.

The work registration process is usually a tangled up one in which you will face with lots of crazy terms and initials (don’t worry, your publisher will be happy to do it for you) and will allow the collecting societies to track the usages of your works on radio, television, DSPs, clubs, festivals, CDs, vinyl and cassettes, for which royalties are paid out. Every time your works are publicly performed and reproduced; you’re entitled to receive royalties.

Informing your publisher about your works means sending in, on a regular basis, their titles, names of other contributors (if any), ISRC codes and other information which you think can help enrichen the metadata for its registration and tracking (duration, alternate titles, language, etc.). Remember that over 60,000 tracks are released on Spotify on a daily basis, and you will need a publisher with the adequate technological infrastructure that allows them to follow up on all the data that you provide for your work and all the data sent back from both collecting societies and companies, reflecting consumption and revenue.

It is necessary for you to keep your publisher informed about the works you write, concerts that you play, tours that you’re planning and general interests that you could have for the creation of your works, such as desired collaborations with other writers in order for them to have a proper insight into who you are as a songwriter. This way, you will be on the top of their minds on a regular basis.

Publishers operate as a node within a network of entrepreneurs and creatives, enabling your participation in the music industry jointly with other professionals who can contribute to a constant growth of your career, and whose growth you can also contribute to. Think about asking your publisher to connect you with performers who will play and record your compositions; like-minded songwriters who perhaps like yourself are performers as well and you would like to co-write and record with; to be included in songwriters’ camps sponsored by your favourite labels; and to be showcased in events that your publisher curates. Publishers can help you out with these objectives as long as you let them know what your ideal professional landscape looks like, what your best musical abilities are and how constant you are building your own projects.

You must see your publisher as your ally, as an organization who can provide you with the knowledge and connections that you need in order to give your music more traction in different territories worldwide. Look for a publisher who will listen to your music, who likes and believes in it, who has representation in different territories around the world, who can offer you personalized attention, who can offer you music distribution services, who has built their path through cutting edge technology and loyalty to its writers.