Music Publishing 101:

Music publishers are essentially songwriter promoters. They work to pair talented songwriters with artists which results in exposure to the public and income for the songwriter. Music publishers “pitch” songs to record labels, movie and television producers and others who use music, then license the right to use the song and collect fees for the usage. Those fees are then split with the songwriter.


Types of Licenses Issued by Music Publishers

  • Reproduction (Mechanical) Licenses: Music distributed in physical and digital form. The royalties are generally collected and paid by the Harry Fox Agency.
  • Public Performance Licenses: Music broadcast on radio (terrestrial and satellite), in live venues, and other public places. The royalties are collected and paid by public performance societies (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC). Each broadcaster receives a blanket license from each performing rights society, in exchange for a royalty fee.
  • Synchronization Licenses: Music used in film, television, commercials, music videos, etc. Publishers enter into direct licenses with users.
  • Folio Licenses: Music published in written form as lyrics and music notation either as bound music folios or online lyric and tablature websites. Publishers enter into direct licenses with users.