How to Become A Music Publisher | Beatoven

Music publishing is a complicated business. Creators, licensors, and publishers need to abide by changing policies and a competitive landscape. Still, everyone in music publishing should begin somewhere – at the bottom.

Are you fascinated in becoming a music publisher? Or you want to build a music publishing company with global interests?

Songwriting: The First Step

The first step of becoming a music publisher is to actually create a song or a batch of songs. This initial process will take lot of time, especially if you’re a beginner.

These are the things that you need to prioritize first:
Your personal mission & vision
Composition tools & equipment
Personal home studio or small office
A starting network of five people in the music industry
A flow of constructive criticism

Before creating your first song, you must draft a personal ‘mission & vision’ statement. Don’t overstep this process – it will push you forward during difficult times.

Once you have a set of songs, try to gather feedback from your friends or colleagues. Take special note of how your music creates an emotional impact. Remember, the best songs deliver the right emotions with the right timing arc. You need to attain a balance of lyrics, tunes, beats, and general rhythm.

The initial step of building your music portfolio may take years. If you decide to enter the next stage of music publishing, you need a team of trustworthy people as well.

Music Publishing: The Transition

During the transition phase, decide if you wish to publish your songs or you want to buy rights from other songwriters. Publishing your song is less complicated as number of parties involved are few. However, the potential for growth is also smaller.

Conversely, publishing others’ songs is ten times more challenging because of licensing policies, bottlenecks, and work. The advantage is your music publishing company might grow and bring in more profits and greater exposure in future!

Many beginner publishers fail because they couldn’t form a five-star team. You can involve your circle of friends but you should keep stock of their skills and competencies.

Here are the most valuable skills needed:

General marketing
Talent acquisition
Promotional/teaser video creation
Sales & negotiation
Licensing review

It takes time to assemble a competent music publishing team, so don’t rush the process. Document and refine your hiring method and ensure that the new people in your team truly care about the music industry.

Catalogue Acquisition

Acquiring music catalogues is a lenghty procedure. As a new publisher, your team should prioritize the right channels and reach out to competent songwriters.

Your team should lay down a detailed NDA or Non-Disclosure Agreement. You won’t always need an NDA, if the transaction is clear between the involved parties.

The other important documents that you have to track are the Prospectus (data about the assets being sold), the Process Letter (detailed steps of the transaction), and the Letter of Intent or LOI (written acquisition proposal). The statements made in these documents must be accurate and concise.

Before completely acquiring a catalogue, you need to pay attention to royalty agreements and income projection. PROs regarding songwriters’ royalties along with some adjustable processing fees.

And once you have a various catalogue of songs, the next step is to prepare your team for busy days ahead!

Networking Events For Continuous Growth

Running a successful music publishing company is about finding new areas for growth. You can find these areas on online platforms or physical locations.

But if you’re aiming for a better result, you should attend networking events. Through these events, you’ll meet other people in music publishing. You would even learn some tips from successful business owners, PRO representatives, and proficient songwriters.

Consider hosting your own events and collaborating with event management companies to create valuable networking opportunities and attract key industry players.

Also, keep an eye out for digital marketers. These professionals are always looking for businesses to partner with.

The Importance of Trend Analysis

In music, emotional display is the main factor but trend analysis is another. You shouldn’t just produce or gather songs that appeal to listeners’ emotions. Rather, you must develop a strong research framework, allowing your team to analyze trends continuously.

If you can’t analyze trends, your music publishing company will have some difficult time catching up with competitors. Online tools will help you analyze trends, as well as free social media data and word-of-mouth.

Over time, you must consider hiring a capable marketing manager for trend analysis, doing this, you’ll save time to spend searching for songwriters or agents.

Joining a PRO

As a new music publisher, you’re needed to join a Performance Rights Organization or PRO. If you live in US, the most popular PROs are ASCAP and BMI. These organizations have same policies and capabilities, though their fees are different.

If the songwriters under your company are connected to one of the mentioned PROs, simply follow the same route. It’s difficult and costly to work with multiple PROs.

The Perils of Licensing

Licensing is a fickle beast – a licensing or copyright error can reduce your finances considerably and turn your company into a ‘black sheep.’ You don’t wish this to happen!

Right from the beginning, you must research licensing and its terms. You can work with a licensing professional to assist you understand terms like royalty free music, public rights, mechanical rights, and derivative works.

Let’s take royalty free music as an example. These types of music are meant for content creators and video producers with little budgets. Through a one-time payment, users can access a huge music library without worrying about licensing. As a music publishing company, licensing is the responsibility of your team. You can acquire a royalty free music library through a process that involves multiple transactions. As the years pass by, your team can sell these royalty free music tracks online without hassles.

But again, royalty free music is not copyright-free music. Any track created automatically gets a copyright. Make sure that the copyright conditions are updated are correct, your team wants to acquire a song. Should be aware, if the seller has a previous agreement with another publisher. Otherwise, your team might end up breach a copyright agreement!

You can work with a lawyer to draft a binding agreement that covers profits, copyrights, and alternative relevant information. The honor system is still applicable but you still need the protection of the law. This also applies to the songwriters and composers.


Always analyze your goals and align them. Don’t rush the process of becoming a music publisher.

Most successful music publishers are those who stayed with the grind. They also combined some vital aspects aspects of marketing, business management, licensing, research, royalty free beats deals, and sales.

So, if you’re up to the challenge, begin your dream of being a music publisher today and find royalty free music at Beatoven.