Want To Make Money With Music Heres How To Start A Music Publishing Company

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Greetings, music enthusiasts! Have you ever wondered what it takes to start a music publishing company? As someone who is passionate about the music industry, I understand the challenges of turning your love for music into a successful business venture. In this article, we will cover the essential steps to kickstart your music publishing company and turn it into a profitable venture.

By the end of this article, you can expect to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of music publishers, how to obtain the right licenses, and how to create an effective marketing strategy for your music publishing company. Creating a music publishing company may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can build a thriving business that provides a platform for both established and upcoming artists to showcase their music.

We will provide you with a step-by-step guide to building a successful music publishing company. Our solution is based on proven methods that have been used by successful music publishers in the industry. With our guidance, you will learn how to negotiate contracts with musicians, secure your copyrights, create a profitable catalog, promote your music, and much more. Get ready to embark on this journey of building a successful music publishing company!

Understanding the Music Publishing Industry

Starting a music publishing company can be a lucrative business venture for music enthusiasts. The music publishing industry is vast and accounts for a significant portion of the recorded music industry, making it essential to unlock its basics before delving into the intricacies of starting a music publishing company. In this section, we will explain the different parts of the music publishing business and how they interconnect.

Main Parts of the Music Publishing Industry

The music publishing industry is made up of various components that differ significantly from each other. Here are the main parts of the music publishing industry:

  • Music Creators: This includes songwriters, composers, and producers who create the music.
  • Music Publishers: These are companies that manage the business aspects of music creation, such as promoting and licensing music rights on behalf of artists.
  • Record Labels: A record label is responsible for recording,and distributing finished music products.
  • Performance Rights Organizations: These companies collect royalties on behalf of the music creators and music publishers for public performance of registered works.
  • Streaming Services: These are companies that distribute music through the internet for streaming or downloads.

Functions of a Music Publisher

A music publisher serves as a mediator between the music creator and the music user. Here are the main functions of a music publisher:

  • Administration: A music publisher manages the copyright and administrative details of a song, including registering the copyright, collecting royalties for public performances and mechanical royalties, and negotiating licenses for the use of the song.
  • Promotion: Music publishers work to promote their artist’s songs to prominent recording artists or sync to media outlets, designers, and TV/film production companies.
  • Synchronization Licensing: Music publishers explore options to support effective syncing of music produced by their artist to video-stimulated advertisements, films, gaming platforms, and TV shows.
  • Catalog Acquisition: Music publishers buy copyrights and music catalogs to add to their collection.

Types of Music Publishers

There are different types of music publishers, and each has its requirements that determine its music publishing business. Some of them include:

  • Major Publishers: These are large firms that publish the majority of the music that the public consumes. They usually have operations in various countries, and they have a vast and well-established network.
  • Independent Publishers: These companies adopt tailored publishing models that can adapt to the changes in the market concerning genre-demands of the music market. They work with small groups of recording artists and composers and function as publishers and curators.
  • Administration Companies: These companies take care of the administrative aspects of copyright, royalty collection, and remittance for artists.

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Music Publishing Company

Before starting a music publishing company, it’s essential to consider the benefits and challenges involved in owning such a business. Here are some of the pros and cons:

  • Potential for High Earnings.
  • Competitive Market
  • Create Opportunities for New Talent.
  • Requires a considerable investment to start.
  • Enjoyable Venture for Music Lovers.
  • Long-Term Investment.

Starting a music publishing company requires significant planning and investment in time, resources, and effort. While it may be competitive, it provides music enthusiasts with an exciting business opportunity. By understanding the various aspects of the music publishing industry, the types, functions, and requirements involved in owning a music publishing company, one can venture into this industry with a head start.

Legal Requirements for Starting a Music Publishing Company

Starting a music publishing company requires more than just a passion for music. It requires a thorough understanding of the legal requirements of the music industry. In this section, we will provide an overview of the legal requirements for starting a music publishing company.

Business Structure

Before starting a music publishing company, you must decide the type of business structure suitable for your company. The most common types of business structures for music publishing companies are sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, and corporation. Here we have discussed these structures and their advantages and disadvantages briefly:

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Business Structure Advantages Disadvantages
Sole Proprietorship Easy to set up, low cost Unlimited personal liability
LLC (Limited Liability Company) Personal liability protection, tax flexibility Maintenance requirements, higher costs
Partnership Low-cost, broad management Unlimited personal liability, potential for conflict
Corporation Personal liability protection, better access to funding, perpetual existence Higher costs, extensive documentation, regulatory requirements

Business Name and Registration

The business name of a music publishing company must be unique and distinctive. Before registering a business name, you should conduct a search to ensure that there is no other registered business with the same name. You can register your business name with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Additionally, you must register your music publishing company with the Secretary of State in the state where your company is incorporated. The registration process will require you to provide your business name, business address, and information about the company’s owners and partners.

Licensing and Copyrights

A music publishing company needs to obtain a license to publish music. In the United States, music publishing companies are licensed by the performing rights organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. To obtain a license, you must submit a completed application with the PRO. You must also register your songs and pay a registration fee. Additionally, you must obtain the necessary copyrights from the rights holders, such as the songwriters and composers, before exploiting their work.

Taxation and Employment

A music publishing company will be subject to federal and state taxation. You must obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you plan to hire employees for your company. You will also be required to pay federal, state, and local taxes. It is essential to keep track of your company’s income and expenses to ensure that you pay the correct amount of taxes.


Contracts are the backbone of the music publishing industry. It is important to have legal agreements in place for all business transactions. The most common contracts include publishing agreements, sync licenses, artist contracts, and distribution agreements. These agreements protect the rights of the parties involved and ensure that they are compensated for their work.

In conclusion, starting a music publishing company requires a solid understanding of the legal requirements of the music industry. You must decide on the business structure, register your business name, obtain licenses, and copyrights, comply with tax regulations, and have legal agreements in place. By following these legal requirements, you can ensure the success of your music publishing company while protecting the rights of all involved parties.

Building a Catalog of Music for Your Publishing Business

As a music publishing company, one of the most important assets that you possess is your catalog of music. The catalog includes songs that the publishing company either owns or administers, and as such, it is the bread and butter of the company. In building a catalog of music for your publishing business, there are several key things that must be taken into consideration.

Acquisition of Rights

The first step in building a catalog of music for your publishing business is to acquire the necessary rights to the songs that you wish to publish. There are several ways to obtain music rights, including:

  1. Purchasing the rights outright from the artist or the songwriter
  2. Signing an agreement with the songwriter or artist that gives the publishing company the right to publish their music
  3. Acquiring the rights from other publishing companies

It is important to note that the process of acquiring rights can be both time-consuming and expensive, and as such, it requires a great deal of negotiation and patience. However, once the rights have been acquired, the publishing company will be able to generate significant income from the songs that they own or administer.

Catalog Administration and Maintenance

After acquiring the rights to the songs that the publishing company wishes to publish, it is important to ensure that the catalog is properly maintained and administered. This means that the company should:

  • Ensure that all licensing agreements are current and up-to-date
  • Track all instances where the songs are being used and ensure that they are being properly compensated for such use
  • Monitor the market for new opportunities to license the music, and actively pursue these opportunities
  • Be vigilant in protecting the copyright of the songs in the catalog

Proper management of the catalog is essential to the success of the publishing company. This is because it ensures that the company is receiving the income that it is entitled to from the songs in its catalog.

Catalog Expansion

Once the catalog has been established, the publishing company should focus on expanding it in order to generate more income. There are several ways to expand the catalog, including:

  1. Signing new artists and songwriters
  2. Acquiring the rights to new songs from other publishing companies
  3. Actively seeking out new talent through talent scouts and music industry professionals

Expanding the catalog not only provides the publishing company with more songs to publish, but it also increases the potential for income generation. This is because a larger catalog will have a wider reach and will be able to generate more licensing opportunities.

Expanding the catalog increases the potential for income generation Acquiring the rights to new songs can be expensive
A larger catalog will have a wider reach Expanding the catalog requires a great deal of effort and resources
Signing new artists and songwriters brings fresh talent to the company New songs may not be as successful as expected

In conclusion, building a catalog of music for a publishing business is essential to the success of the company. Acquiring, maintaining and expanding the catalog requires a great deal of patience, effort, negotiation and resources. However, with the right approach, a strong catalog can generate significant income for the company for many years to come.

Marketing and Promoting Your Music Publishing Company

Marketing and promoting your music publishing company is an important part of your business, it plays a significant role in generating revenue and reaching a wider audience. A solid marketing strategy can help to build your brand, attract more artists, and increase your book of business. In this article, we will explore effective ways to market and promote your music publishing company.

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Online Presence

In today’s digital era, having a strong online presence is essential for any business. As a music publishing company, having a website is a great way to showcase your company’s work and services. Your website should be user-friendly, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. It should include relevant information such as your company’s background, services offered, current artists, and upcoming events.

In addition to having a website, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be powerful tools to market and promote your company. It allows you to connect with your audience, create engaging content, and share your latest projects. Utilizing paid social media ads can also be beneficial to target your audience and increase your online visibility.

Networking and Collaboration

Networking and collaborating with other professionals in the music industry can be effective in promoting your music publishing company. Attending music conferences, industry events, and workshops can provide opportunities to meet potential clients and expand your network. Building relationships with music producers, recording studios, and artists can lead to collaborations and new business opportunities.

Another way to collaborate is to work with other publishing companies to co-publish songs or manage songwriters together. This will allow you to work with a wider range of artists and expand your company’s reach.


Advertising your music publishing company can help to increase your brand recognition and attract new artists. Advertising can be done through various mediums such as print ads, radio spots, and television commercials. A more popular form of advertising in today’s digital age is to utilize YouTube ads or Spotify ads, which can be more cost-effective and reach a wider audience.

Trade Shows and Conferences

Trade shows and conferences are ideal opportunities to showcase your music publishing company’s services and meet potential clients. Attending music trade shows such as MIDEM, SXSW, and NAMM can allow you to showcase your services and products to a larger audience. It can also provide opportunities to explore new technologies and trends within the industry.

H3>Benefits and Drawbacks of Different Marketing Strategies

Marketing Strategies | Benefits | Drawbacks
— | — | —
Website | Showcases services, easy to navigate | Costly to design, requires maintenance
Social Media | Engages with audience, easily accessible | Difficult to stand out, requires consistent posting
Networking | Builds relationships, expands network | Takes time, travel can be expensive
Advertising | Attracts new clients, increases brand awareness | Can be costly, difficult to target specific audience
Trade Shows/Conferences | Showcases services to a larger audience, explore new technologies | Can be costly, requires travel and preparations

In conclusion, marketing and promoting your music publishing company is crucial to help your business grow and attract new clients. Utilizing effective marketing strategies such as having a strong online presence, networking, advertising, and attending trade shows and conferences can help to expand your company’s reach and increase your revenue.

Business Strategies for Growing Your Music Publishing Company

As a music publisher, the success of your business depends on how well you are able to promote and distribute your content. A comprehensive marketing plan should be your top priority, followed by seeking out new opportunities for revenue growth. To build a sustainable music publishing company, you should implement the following strategies:

Diversify Your Revenue Streams

One of the most common pitfalls of music publishing companies is relying solely on one source of income. While sync licensing and mechanical royalties may be lucrative, they can be unpredictable and competitive. To ensure long-term success, you should aim to diversify your revenue streams by exploring new income sources.

  • Music Sales: Consider selling sheet music, digital downloads, or physical copies of your music through online retailers, music stores, or direct-to-consumer platforms.
  • Merchandising: Branch out into merchandise sales, such as t-shirts, hats, and other branded materials.
  • Live Performances: Encourage the artists you work with to perform live shows or gigs. This will help broaden their exposure and increase the popularity of your music.
  • Production: Offer your services as a music producer, mixer, or mastering engineer to other artists and labels.
  • Music Education: Develop online courses, tutorials, or music teaching material to supplement your income and increase brand awareness.

By diversifying your revenue streams, you can minimize the risk of fluctuations caused by any one particular sector. Refer to the table below for a comparison of different revenue streams and their pros and cons.

Revenue Stream Pros Cons
Sync Licensing High profitability Competitive
Mechanical Royalties Reliable revenue Low per-unit earnings
Music Sales Potentially high profits Unpredictable demand
Merchandising High margin Requires investment in stock
Live Performances Increased exposure Logistical planning required
Production Services Flexible pricing Requires specialized knowledge
Music Education Recurring income Marketing and promotion required

Collaborate with Other Industry Professionals

No company is an island, especially in the music industry. To expand your reach and attract new clients, you must find strategic partnerships with other music industry professionals. Some of these professionals include managers, booking agents, publicists, and record labels.

  • Managers: Work with managers to match your song catalog with suitable artists and negotiate deals.
  • Booking Agents: Collaborate with booking agents to secure gigs and grants artists more exposure.
  • Publicists: Consult with publicists for brand-building and marketing strategies, including content creation and social media marketing.
  • Record Labels: Coordinate with record labels to enable more significant distribution, marketing, and promotional support for your artist’s music.

Partnering with other industry professionals can also be beneficial as it helps to save time and effort in finding new potential clients. A trust-based strategic partnership can go a long way towards establishing yourself as a leading company in the music publishing industry.

Invest in Technology and Infrastructure

Your ability to grow and scale your business will depend, in part, on the technology and infrastructure that you have in place. As your business evolves, you should continually evaluate your systems to ensure that you have the resources and technologies to meet your needs effectively.

  • Cloud Services: Take advantage of the benefits of agile cloud service technologies for managing and distributing music assets, including sheet music or audio files.
  • Data Analytics: Use analytics tools to measure the success of your music and gain valuable insights into the preferences of your audience.
  • Project Management Tools: Use project management software to coordinate internal team collaboration and task assignments.
  • Content Delivery Networks: Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to facilitate faster distribution and delivery of your music files.
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By investing in technology and infrastructure, you can exponentially increase the efficiency of your operations, offering a better user experience to your clients to drive business growth.

Adapt to Changing Industry Trends

The music industry is continually transforming, and it is necessary for music publishers to keep up with these changes. Monitor industry trends and shifts, and be ready to adapt your business strategies accordingly.

  • Streaming: Cater for music streaming by optimizing your tracks for popular streaming formats, such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal.
  • Remote Work: Embrace the trend of remote work through collaboration platforms and secure remote connections with distributed team members.
  • Advanced Technology: Research and adopt cutting-edge technology advancements, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or blockchain, to gain a competitive edge.

In conclusion, the music publishing industry is ever-evolving, with huge opportunities for growth and expansion. By implementing the strategies discussed above, you can create a sustainable and profitable music publishing company that thrives in any industry condition.

FAQs – How to Start a Music Publishing Company

How do I obtain a music publishing license?

To begin a music publishing company, you need to obtain a license to publish music. Apply for a Mechanical License from the Harry Fox Agency, which is responsible for granting mechanical licenses for music releases. You can also apply for a Public Performance License through ASCAP or BMI to enable you to receive royalties when your music is played in public.

What is the legal structure for a music publishing company?

The legal structure should be determined by the type of business you want to operate. If you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll need to register for a Doing Business As (DBA) or create an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or Corporation.

How do I find musicians to work with?

You can find musicians by going to local shows, contacting recording studios, or using online platforms such as Music Gateway or SoundBetter. It’s essential to build mutually respectful relationships with the musicians you work with for the longevity of your business, so be sure to communicate with them clearly.

What’s the best way to promote my music publishing company?

The best way to promote your company is through word-of-mouth, attending music industry trade shows, email and social media marketing, networking, and collaborations with other publishing companies, TV networks, or music production houses.

What are the primary responsibilities of a music publisher?

The primary responsibilities of a music publisher are to ensure that songwriters get paid royalties when their songs are played, negotiate licenses for the use of songs by third parties and collection of money owed to songwriters, plus providing assistance with administration and copyright authorization.

When should I start investing in technology for my music publishing company?

You should start investing in technology for your music publishing company as soon as possible. Investing in technology will help streamline your business, increase productivity, enhance the accuracy of royalty collection, and ensure that you remain ahead of your competitors.

How do I copyright my music?

You can copyright your music by applying for a copyright at the US Copyright Office. Registering your works will add evidence of your ownership of your compositions in case of infringement or legal disputes.

Do I need a business plan for my music publishing company?

Yes, having a business plan for your music publishing company is vital. A business plan serves as a guide to help you stay focused and accountable for your actions as you build your business.

What factors do I need to consider when negotiating music licenses?

When negotiating music licenses, you need to consider factors such as the length and type of use, the amount and type of royalties that will be paid, and the territories involved. You should also have an attorney that is familiar with music publishing laws review your licensing agreements.

How do I ensure that I comply with music publishing laws and regulations?

Ensure that you comply with laws and regulations by conducting research, seeking legal advice, and keeping up to date with new laws and regulations in your industry. This will keep your company operating legally and avoid unnecessary lawsuits and fines.


Starting a music publishing company requires a combination of legal, creative, and technical knowledge to ensure its success. To summarize the key points, start by obtaining the necessary licenses, forming a legal structure, collaborating with musicians, promoting your business, and complying with industry regulations. Once you’ve established your publishing company, consider investing in technology, negotiating music licenses, and creating a detailed business plan. After reading the article, take action by beginning your business plan and start networking to meet potential collaborators and clients. Good luck!

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