To Sign or Not to Sign a Deal—that is the question in the music industry

Musicians often wonder whether they need a record label behind them, and it is no different for songwriters who may wonder whether they need a music publisher on their side. Music publishing deals have pros and cons, but there are definitely more benefits to having the right publisher on your team. If you’re trying to decide between D-I-Y publishing and a music publishing contract, consider these five reasons why working with a music publisher may be a boon for your career.

Publishing Is Tricky

Mechanical royalties, licenses, and accounting are some of the things publishers do to help songwriters navigate the music industry. You certainly can learn the ropes yourself, but it can take a very long time to completely understand publishing. Meanwhile, you could be signing yourself up for some very shady deals.

Publishers, on the other hand, know ​publishing. They know how to protect your rights from the start based on their industry knowledge. They also free up the time you would spend on publishing so you can focus on your strengths—writing songs.

Your Time Is Better Spent Elsewhere

You’re a songwriter. But it is easy to get sidetracked if you have to manage your song-writing business and take care of administrative tasks. With a publishing deal, you can delegate the work of issuing licenses and collecting royalties, all of which is time-consuming work. It’s cost-effective to outsource this administrative work.

Music Publishers Have Connections

Imagine that you’ve written what you believe will be the next Billboard Number One. For that song to be visible, it needs to find its way to an artist who can perform it in the way it needs to be performed. An established publishing company has the connections required to get your music into the hands of top performers.

Music Publishers Can Help You Grow Creatively

Some music publishers are very hands-off with their clients. They do the administrative work associated with the songs in their catalogs, but they don’t get involved in the creative process or the songwriting.

Other music publishers take a different approach. They have entire departments devoted to helping their songwriters develop creatively. They may offer feedback on compositions, suggest new directions, and pair up their songwriters with other writers for collaborative partnerships.

This type of guidance and support can help a new songwriter to learn and develop professionally maximizing their potential.

Publishers Ensure You Get Paid

Royalties due to artists often go unpaid. One way to collect monies due is to conduct audits of license holders, such as record label audits. That may sound straightforward enough, but audits are expensive—prohibitively so in many cases.

Some audits can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Publishing companies, either by themselves or as part of a relationship with the Harry Fox Agency (a rights manager and collector and distributor of mechanical license fees in the United States), pay for these audits, meaning you get more of your money without collection expenses.

Also, publishing companies understand the value of publishing. They know how to price your work and can demand a price for your music that you may struggle to achieve on your own.

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