About Music Publishing


Music publishers play a vital role in the music industry; developing music, helping to protect it, and negotiating a value for it in the market place.

Helping songwriters to develop their skills is a key aspect of publishing. Publishers often work in conjunction with record companies to find and nurture new writing talent, and to help more established writers to continue to grow. In addition to this, by taking care of the business aspects of a songwriter's career, publishers give their writers more time to concentrate on writing and composing.

What Music Publishers Do

Music publishers nurture and develop songwriters and composers, and take care of the business aspects of their career.

Helping a writer or composer to develop their skills can involve providing financial support, advising on writing for particular markets and introducing a writer to new contacts, such as co-writers, record companies and film and television producers.

On the business side, a publisher would usually be responsible for:

  • seeking new ways for existing works (songs and instrumental music) to be exploited, such as in TV programs, film, advertising or games;
  • finding commissions for new works either for performance or recording;
  • registering the works with the collecting societies, APRA and AMCOS, who in turn license the performing rights and reproduction rights in their members' works;
  • producing promotional materials, such as sample CDs or digital packs;
  • promoting composers and songwriters to (other) performers, record companies, broadcasters, digital music services and others who use music for commercial purposes;
  • licensing the use of musical works, for example, to be featured in a film or TV program, advertisement, in an online video, or as printed music;
  • monitoring the use of the musical works in their control and ensuring that proper payment is received for all licensed uses;
  • protecting the works from demeaning or unauthorised works, and taking action against anyone using a work without a licence; and
  • making royalty payments to their composers and songwriters for the use of their music.

Music publishers make an investment - in terms of money, time and experience - in their writers. They exploit the copyright in the music and songs created by their writers in order to make a return on that investment, and to reward the writers for their creative work.

“Publishers are important - they can work with a writer to match them to other writers, pitch the work for synchronisation and recording opportunities and generally market the services of the songwriter.”

Scot Morris, Director of International Relations, APRA AMCOS