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run8 | Full-Throttle Independent Music and Events

R8R Music Publishing
(registered with ASCAP)

In the music industry, a publishing company is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, 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 and distributes them to the composers. A publisher also secures commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, 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 which is typically owned by a record company.) Publishing companies play a central role in managing this vital asset.

Successful songwriters and composers have a relationship with a publishing company defined by a publishing contract. The publisher agrees to see to it that the composers receive royalties from various uses of their compositions. They also provide substantial advances against future income.

There are several types of royalties: mechanical royalties derive from the sale of recorded music, such as CDs or digital downloads. These royalties are paid to publishers by record companies (through the Harry Fox Agency as well as through American Mechanical Rights Agency in the U.S.). Performance royalties are collected by performance rights organizations such as SESAC, BMI or ASCAP and are paid by radio stations and others who broadcast recorded music. 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 artists to record them and to place writers' songs in other media such as movie soundtracks and commercials. They will typically also handle copyright registration and "ownership" matters for the composer. Music print publishers also supervise the issue of songbooks and sheet music by their artists.

Examples: Synchronization royalties are continually issued to Viscosity Breakdown's track "Art of Waking" (licensed for an episode of MTV's show "Made") and more commonly, mechanical royalties are paid to various artists for downloaded ringtones.