How to Form a Music Publishing Company

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Setting up a publishing company is not expensive.
Setting up a publishing company is not expensive. (Image: sheet music image by charles taylor from Fotolia.com)

If you have an original song, which you believe will bring you revenue through public performances and record sales, forming a publishing company for your music is necessary. It is not expensive to set up a publishing company; it ensures you get all the revenue from performances and merchandise, as opposed to getting only a share, as happens when you publish through another publisher. You can form a publishing company as an individual or a band. Form a publishing company also offers legal benefits.

Pick an exclusive name for your company. A unique name makes your company more memorable. Keep in mind two or three names you want to give the company as most names will be taken.

Determine your publisher. Pick a Publishing Rights Organization (PRO) such as BMI, ASCAP or SESAC to register your company with. These organizations keep track of your performances, and also help in the collection and distribution of revenue earned.

Set up a business account. This is a bank account specifically created and used to manage all the company's finances. This makes your business more organized and efficient.

Request information from PRO on procedure to join them as a songwriter and publisher. Register as both. Registering only as a songwriter without associating your songs with your publishing company will cause you to receive only half the money you are supposed to receive. The PRO will provide paperwork on how to register and establish you as a publisher in their database under the name you have registered. The name is important as it is your assumed name, and all sales your songs generate will be reported to the IRS by the PRO as paid to that name.

Register your company. Contact local county and state government entities to receive a business permit as a music publishing company as either a sole proprietor, band, partnership or corporation. Register with the same name as registered under the PRO. Once this is done, advertise your publishing company, by any means, under your chosen business name.

Register your songs. Each PRO has a different method of registering songs. The title, running length, copyright issued, songwriter and publisher detail have to be provided. This helps you receive royalties obtained from the songs, if any are generated.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure that you have alternative names for your band. With the millions of people forming bands and music groups everyday, it is very possible that publishing company names will be taken.
  • Always consult an attorney before starting the venture, and during every step of the process.
  • Try to acquire musical rights whenever possible from other songwriters. This can be done through negotiation and splitting the profits.

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