Music Publishing & Distribution

Hey folks,

Here’s another batch of bullet points & notes taken from ‘FACE THE MUSIC CONFERENCE’.
Once again, I’m simply relaying what was said. Don’t use this as Gospel, it’s just a guide.
When it comes to all that lovely legal talk, always ask a professional!

“Legalities of Publishing, Recording and Distribution”


There’s two components to Copyright.

Musical work in the song, the ownership of the song, the composer of the song,
composer of music (melody) and composer of lyrics (writer).
Ownership is generally 50/50 each way.

Sound recording of song(s) copyright.
Whoever makes the sound recording owns it.
Better put, whoever pays for it is generally the owner.

So if a label asks you to get back in the studio, they’ll pay for the time in there, in which
they’ll own the sound recording. With that said, you may consider adding to the contract (or they may)
something that outlines they have the sound recording ownership for a period of time eg, 25 years.

If your album is ready for the shelf and there’s no need to revisit the studio then there will be
a period of time allocated to the label for ownership. In the end there has to be, no point in
them having you on board if they can’t earn themselves some royalties from your work.

You have the right to duplicate it and/or earn royalties from public performances whenever
its performed (APRA looks after this for artists) and so on..

Moral Rights

• Non tradeable rights
• Usually for the composer
• Work is protected and keeps its integrity
• You have the right to be attributed for the song etc.

Rights of Integrity

This is a bit of a ‘grey area’.
The right to maintain the integrity of the music.
eg remixing a song – changing the verse of the original song may not be allowed, depending
on the clause, etc..

What is a music publisher?

Basically you want a publisher to be active in exploiting your music so it’s out there.
A publisher works your copyright which will get you more earnings.
eg, used in tv commercials, tv shows or movie soundtracks etc.

• Control / protect copyright
• Exploit song through licensing
• Administer income (collect and distribute to those involved in the contract)

• Writer signs with publisher for a period of time.
• Admin deal – publisher will administer the rights.
• Assigned copyright – all rights given to the publisher for a term
• You can withhold certain rights

• Royalties clause – percentage you’re entitled to.
• The territory clause
– You can give publisher only certain rights eg, can exploit in another country Australia and New Zealand only.
• You can find another publisher and get another deal

• Paid a fee on signing.
• Publisher can recoup advances on future royalties.

This all depends what contract you sign, but you should be working around these figures.
Remember before you sign, get a lawyer to check it out!

10% of NET – artist gets back from label (royalties)
20% (ish) goes to the publisher (artist receives most of this)
Royalty rate 10% (ish) – profits that finally gross after debt (‘Advance’) is finally paid.
Gross is distributed between label and artist (10%)

Publishing is where artists make a lot of their cash.
Publishers don’t (or shouldn’t) squeeze too much out of the contract and labels shouldn’t be asking for
any percentage of the publishing rights. However, thanks to illegal downloading and the loss of profit
it’s brought (accompanied by other factors) labels are trying to sneak their way into this area.

more on this to be continued in the next blog…..

1 Comment

  • February 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm //

    Hi Francesca, really enjoying the read…..thank you.