Music publisher (popular music)
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A music publisher is a type of
publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as book A ...

publisher
that specializes in distributing music. Music publishers originally published
sheet music Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instrument (music), instruments or singing, sung by the hum ...

sheet music
. When
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
became legally protected, music publishers started to play a role in the management of the
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
of composers.


Music print publishing

The term music publisher originally referred to publishers who issued hand-copied or printed sheet music. Examples (who are actively in business ) include: *
Breitkopf & Härtel Breitkopf & Härtel is the world's oldest publisher of sheet music, music publishing house. The firm was founded in 1719 in Leipzig by Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf. The catalogue currently contains over 1,000 composers, 8,000 works and 15,000 mus ...
,
Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 million residents in the larger urban zone), it surpasses the Saxon c ...

Leipzig
, founded 1719 * Schott,
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
, 1770 *
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
, Oxford, founded 18th century *
Edition Peters Edition Peters is a classical music Music publisher (sheet music), publisher founded in Leipzig, Germany in 1800. History The company came into being on 1 December 1800 when the Vienna, Viennese composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754–1812) and ...

Edition Peters
, Leipzig, 1800 *
Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag (abbreviated to Hofmeister) is a publisher of classical music, founded by Friedrich Hofmeister in Leipzig in 1807. Early listings included composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt. Hofmeister ...
, Leipzig, founded 1807 *
Casa Ricordi Casa Ricordi is a publisher of primarily classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various s, s and , depending on ...
, Milan, founded 1808 *
G. Schirmer, Inc. G. Schirmer, Inc. is an American classical music publishing company based in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a ...
, New York, founded 1861 * Ernst Eulenburg, Leipzig, founded 1874 * Zimmermann, founded 1876 *
Universal Edition Universal Edition (UE) is a classical music publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribu ...
, Vienna, 1901 *
Bärenreiter Bärenreiter (Bärenreiter-Verlag) is a German classical music publishing house based in Kassel Kassel (; in Germany, spelled Cassel until 1926) is a city on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Regie ...

Bärenreiter
, founded 1923 * Dr. J. Butz,
Bonn The Federal city The term federal city is a title for certain cities in Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official langua ...

Bonn
, founded 1924 *
Boosey & Hawkes Boosey & Hawkes is a British music publisher purported to be the largest specialist classical music publisher in the world. Until 2003, it was also a major manufacturer of brass Brass is an alloy of copper Copper is a chemical eleme ...
, London, founded 1930 *
Hans SikorskiInternationale Musikverlage Hans Sikorski is an international sheet music publisher, publishing company with headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. As of June 2019, Sikorski is a part of Concord Music publishing house. The music publishing firm of Hans S ...
, Hamburg, 1935 * PWM, Kraków, founded 1945 * G. Henle Verlag, Munich, founded 1948 *
Carus-Verlag Carus-Verlag is a German music publisher founded in 1972 and based in Stuttgart Stuttgart (; Swabian: ; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...
, Stuttgart, founded 1972 *
Edition Güntersberg Edition Güntersberg is a German publishing house of classical music, focused on compositions for the viola da gamba. It was founded in Heidelberg in 1990 by Günter von Zadow and Leonore von Zadow-Reichling, who is a professional gambist. In additi ...
,
Heidelberg Heidelberg () is a university town in the German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (states); commonly informally / federated s ...

Heidelberg
, founded 1990 *
Hänssler Hänssler-Verlag is a German music publishing house founded in 1919 as Musikverlag Hänssler by Friedrich Hänssler Senior (died 1972) to publish church music. The company is now based in Holzgerlingen. Since 1972 Hänssler Verlag has also publishe ...


Other media


Intellectual property management

In the
music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
, a music publisher or publishing company is responsible for ensuring the
songwriter A songwriter is a musician A musician is a person who Composer, composes, Conducting, conducts, or Performing arts, performs music. According to the United States Employment Service, "musician" is a general Terminology, term used to designate ...

songwriter
s and
composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical music in any form, including vocal music (for a Singing, singer or choir), instrumental mus ...

composer
s receive payment when their
composition Composition or Compositions may refer to: Arts * Composition (dance), practice and teaching of choreography * Composition (music), an original piece of music and its creation *Composition (visual arts) The term composition means "putting togethe ...
s are used commercially. Through an agreement called a
publishing contractA publishing contract is a legal contract A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the ...
, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects
royalties A royalty payment is a payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset. Royalties are typically agreed upon as a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the use of an asset ...

royalties
and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to
recording artist A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. According to the United States Employment Service The United States Employment Service (USES) is an agency of the federal government of the United States The federal go ...
s, film and television. The copyrights owned and administered by publishing companies are one of the most important forms of intellectual property in the music industry. (The other is the copyright on a
master recording Mastering, a form of audio post production Audio post production is all stages of audio production relating to sound produced and synchronized with moving picture (film, television, or video). It involves sound design, Sound effect, sound eff ...
which is typically owned by a
record company A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark of Sound recording and reproduction, music recordings and Music video, music videos, or the company that owns it. Sometimes, a record label is also a Music publisher (popular music), pub ...
) Publishing companies play a central role in managing this vital asset.


The music publisher's role

Successful songwriters and composers have a relationship with a publishing company defined by a
publishing contractA publishing contract is a legal contract A contract is a legally binding document between at least two parties that defines and governs the rights and duties of the parties to an agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the ...
. Publishers also sometimes provide substantial advances against future income. In return, the publishing company receives a percentage, which can be as high as 50% and varies for different kinds of royalty. There are several types of royalty:
mechanical royalties A royalty payment is a payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset. Royalties are typically agreed upon as a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the use of an asset ...
derive from the sale of recorded music, such as CDs or digital downloads. These royalties are paid to publishers by
record companies A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business Business is ...
(through the
Harry Fox Agency The Harry Fox Agency (HFA) is a provider of rights management and collector and distributor of mechanical license fees on behalf of Music publisher (popular music), music publishers in the United States. HFA has over 48,000 music publishing client ...

Harry Fox Agency
as well as throug
American Mechanical Rights Agency
in the U.S.). Performance royalties are collected by
performance rights organization A performance rights organisation (PRO), also known as a performing rights society, provides intermediary functions, particularly collection of royalties, between copyright holders and parties who wish to use copyrighted works ''publicly'' in loca ...
s such as
SESAC SESAC, originally the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, is a for-profit performing rights organization, performance-rights organization in the United States. SESAC was founded in 1930, making it the second-oldest performance-rights ...
, BMI,
ASCAP The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) () is an American not-for-profit performance-rights organization (PRO) that protects its members' musical copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Int ...
or PRS and are paid by radio stations and others who broadcast recorded music; and are paid by venues, event organizers for live performances of the compositions. Synchronization royalties are required when a composition is used in a film or television soundtrack. These royalties typically pass through the hands of a music publisher before they reach the composer. Publishers also work to link up new songs by songwriters with suitable
recording artist A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. According to the United States Employment Service The United States Employment Service (USES) is an agency of the federal government of the United States The federal go ...
s to record them and to place writers' songs in other media such as movie
soundtrack A soundtrack is recorded music accompanying and synchronised to the images of a motion picture A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting ...
s and commercials. They will typically also handle
copyright registration The purpose of copyright registration is to place on record a verifiable account of the date and content of the work in question, so that in the event of a legal claim, or case of infringement or plagiarism Plagiarism is the representation of ...
and "ownership" matters for the composer. Music print publishers also supervise the issue of
songbook A song book is a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sen ...

songbook
s and
sheet music Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instrument (music), instruments or singing, sung by the hum ...

sheet music
by their artists.


Publishing disputes

Traditionally, music publishing royalties are split seventy/thirty, with thirty percent going to the publisher (as payment for their services) and the rest going to the songwriter – or songwriters, as the case may be. Other arrangements have been made in the past, and continue to be; some better for the writers, some better for the publishers. Occasionally a recording artist will ask for a co-writer's credit on a song (thus sharing in both the artist and publishing royalties) in exchange for selecting it to perform, particularly if the writer is not well known. Sometimes an artist's manager or producer will expect a co-credit or share of the publishing (as with
Norman Petty Norman Petty (May 25, 1927 – August 15, 1984) was an American musician and record producer who is best known for recording Buddy Holly Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holl ...
and
Phil Spector Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939January 16, 2021) was an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who is best known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s, followed decades later by his murde ...

Phil Spector
), and occasionally a publisher will insist on writer's credit (as
Morris Levy Morris Levy (August 27, 1927 – May 21, 1990) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), ...
did with several of his acts); these practices are listed in ascending order of scrupulousness, as regarded by the music industry. The most unscrupulous type of music publisher is the songshark, who does little if any real "legwork" or promotion on behalf of songwriters. Songsharks make their profit not on royalties from sales, but by charging inexperienced writers for "services" (some real, such as
demo Demo, usually short for demonstration (disambiguation), demonstration, may refer to: Music and film *Demo (music), a song typically recorded for reference rather than release *Demo (Behind Crimson Eyes), ''Demo'' (Behind Crimson Eyes), a 2004 rec ...
recording or musical arranging, some fictional, such as "audition" or "review" fees) a legitimate publisher would provide without cost to the writer, as part of their job. (By comparison, a bona fide publisher who charges admission to a workshop for writers, where songs may be auditioned or reviewed, isn't wrong to do so.) Rock-n-roll pioneer
Buddy Holly Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American singer-songwriter who was a central and pioneering figure of mid-1950s rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as ...
split with longtime manager Norman Petty over publishing matters in late 1958, as did the Buckinghams with producer
James William Guercio James William Guercio (born July 18, 1945) is an American music producer, musician, songwriter and director. He is well known for his work as the producer of Chicago (band), Chicago's early albums as well as early recordings of The Buckinghams and ...
almost a decade later.
John Fogerty John Cameron Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), for which he was the lead sing ...

John Fogerty
of
Creedence Clearwater Revival Creedence Clearwater Revival, also referred to as Creedence and CCR, was an American rock music, rock band formed in El Cerrito, California. The band initially consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty; hi ...
was sued by his former publisher Saul Zaentz (who'd also served as his manager) over a later Fogerty song that sounded slightly like a CCR song Zaentz published. (Fogerty won in court.) Several bands and artists own (or later purchase) their own publishing, and start their own companies, with or without help from an outside agent. The sale or loss of publishing ownership can be devastating to a given artist or writer, financially and emotionally. R&B legend Little Richard was largely cheated on his music publishing and copyrights, as were many performers. Brian Wilson and Mike Love of The Beach Boys were crushed to learn that Murry Wilson (father to three of the Beach Boys, Love's uncle, and the band's music publisher) had sold their company Sea of Tunes to A&M Records during 1969 for a fraction of what it was worth – or earned in the following years. A large factor in the Beatles' breakup was when their publisher Dick James sold his share of Northern Songs, the company they'd formed with him in 1963 (then taken public in 1967, with shares trading on the London Stock Exchange), to Britain's Associated TeleVision (Associated TeleVision, ATV) in 1969. Neither the Beatles nor managers Lee Eastman and Allen Klein were able to prevent ATV from becoming majority stockholders in Northern Songs, whose assets included virtually all the group's song copyrights. Losing control of the company, John Lennon and Paul McCartney elected to sell their share of Northern Songs (and thus their own copyrights), while retaining their writer's royalties. (George Harrison and Ringo Starr retained minority holdings in the company.)


See also

*Transcription (music) *List of record labels


Notes


Further reading

* *


External links


Starting A Music Publishing CompanyBeware of the Song Shark
{{Authority control Sheet music publishing companies, Music publishing Occupations in music