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Music Publishers provide a very different service than Record Labels, and even Distributors. While in some cases a larger Record Label will have all of these departments under the one roof, these days, they are often separate entities either collaborating together, or working autonomously.

Man singing in a recording studio

Have you ever wondered exactly how a music publisher is different from a record label? Let’s start by understanding what a record label does.

A record label, big or small, is responsible for helping an artist or band with production, distribution, marketing, and promotion of a song or album. It’s important to note that a record label, depending on the deal made with the artist or band, usually controls the master recordings of each song.

That means that when a song has been finished and is ready for commercial release, the final file or tape belongs to the record label. A music publisher, on the other hand, is actually invested in the songwriters, or composers, and only controls the musical composition.

This means that a music publisher protects the use of a song’s melody and/or lyrics under copyright law, and makes sure that if someone is using that melody and/or lyrics, they are paying for it.

So… a publisher collects royalties for the musical composition… and a record label will collect money for the master recordings. This is why record labels and music publishers are complementary – and if you’re a songwriter who also records your music, you may work with a label AND a publisher.

Of course, not all songwriters or composers record their songs, just as many recording artists today don’t write their own songs. Here’s an example:

  • The song “Dreamgirls”, recorded and sung by Beyonce, Anika Noni Rose, and Jennifer Hudson, was in fact written by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen.
  • This means that for this song, Beyonce, Anika, and Jennifer will get paid for performing it, a label will most likely collect royalties for the master recording.
  • But all composition royalties, especially performance royalties will be paid to Henry and Tom every time this song is used, streamed or performed live, etc.

We understand that music publishing can be difficult to understand sometimes. The important thing to remember is that if you write a song by yourself, or with someone’s help, be sure to get proper advice on what you need to do next.

Don’t forget, the experienced team at Dark Escapes Publishing is always happy to answer any questions you have about music publishing.

We also have a corresponding educational video for this blog. You can view that video on the Dark Escapes Music YouTube Channel by clicking HERE!

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Dark Escapes Publishing Pty Ltd is a registered publishing company in Australia offering services across the music industry to help artists licence and distribute their content internationally, while also collecting royalties on their behalf. If you are a musician who needs assistance with this, connect with us to find out what happens next: hello@darkescapespublishing.com

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