Written by: Korie Burton | Middle Tennessee State University Songwriting Major | Muscle Shoals Song Rooms Intern 2020
September 9th, 2020
Every songwriter should have a publisher.. (no, seriously!) Even indie writers need to keep up with their publishing. No, I don’t mean a brick and mortar building on 16th Avenue in Nashville, TN or a major music publisher like Warner Chappell or Universal Music Publishing. I’m talking about your own personal publishing company set up through your PRO (Performance Rights Organization).
How It Works– There are two split income streams for every song written. There is a writer’s share and a publisher’s share. Most publishing deals are set up 50/50 meaning if your song makes money off of streaming or performance, your publisher takes half of the revenue made. But, get this: If you’re an indie artist/songwriter and you have your own publishing label, you get to keep BOTH!
In order to explain this to the best of my ability, let’s draw a diagram.
Imagine your song is represented by two pie charts. One pie chart is the writer’s share, and the other pie is the publisher’s share. For the purposes of this example, we are talking about a song you wrote all by yourself, and therefore you control all of it. If you are only registered with your PRO as a songwriter, you are only collecting one pie of royalties. If you are registered as both a writer and a publisher, you get both pies! And who doesn’t want all of the pie?!
So how do you make sure you get all of the income?
When you sign up with a PRO as a writer, they will collect all of your writer’s performance royalties. In order to get ALL of the income, however, you must also register with the PRO as a publisher. Doing this will ensure that they are collecting all of the writer’s royalties and publisher’s royalties for your songs.
So Why Should You Do It?
There are two big reasons you should set up a personal publishing company:
1) Collect all of your royalties!
Let’s say you’re only registered as a writer, and for the quarter, your PRO sends you a check for $20. If you had been registered as both a writer and publisher, you would get $20 for the writer share AND $20 for the publishing ($40, whoop whoop!)
2) You control your entire song!
If someone wanted to cut one of your songs, they would go to your publisher.. which would be YOU! If you’re established as your own publisher, you are prepared when the time comes for someone to cut one of your songs or use it for sync purposes.
How Do I Sign Up?
It’s a little different depending on the PRO.
If you go with BMI, it’s free to sign up as a writer, however, it’s a one-time $150 fee to set up your publisher. Click here to learn more.
If you go with ASCAP, it’s $50 to sign up as a writer, and $50 to sign up as a publisher. Click here to learn more.
In the end, it’s always going to be a good idea to have your publishing set up and ready to go. You’ll look professional and be prepared, and you’ll be collecting the maximum money possible from your PRO. And who doesn’t want that?!?