Music Publishing Laws and Regulations / Business Basics / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Music publishing is often described by music publishers as the "gift that keeps on giving." If you are an artist trying to ...

Music publishing is often described by music publishers as the "gift that keeps on giving." If you are an artist trying to get a song publishing company to take notice, or if you are trying to use a particular song for which the rights are owned by a music publishing company, it is important to gather as much music publishing information and knowledge as possible.

A large part of music publishing basics includes understanding how the process of publishing music works, which includes learning about music publishing laws and regulations. Understanding song publishing information in regard to copyrights, licenses and royalties, are perhaps the more important music publishing business activities to understand. Consider learning more about the following rules and regulations whether starting a music publishing company, or contemplating a music publishing contract:

1. Mechanical royalties are a large part of the "bread and butter" in the music publishing business, and are regulated by law.

2. Copyright laws protect artists and companies against someone using a song without permission.

3. There are various licenses involved in using a song with any additional medium.

Understand mechanical royalties regulations as they pertain to music publishing

Mechanical royalties are the royalties paid whenever music gets reproduced on everything from musical greeting cards to CDs or MP3s. The Copyright Royalty Tribunal establishes the amount of money that must be paid for a mechanical license, and also determines the amount of royalty money that can be generated per song.

Learn about how copyright laws generate revenues for the artist and song publishing company

Music publishing companies earn money by licensing copyrighted music. Laws and regulations stipulate that a copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to be valid. Copyrights allow the original artist and music companies to earn money every time a song is used in any form.

Educate yourself about the rules and regulations around the various music publishing licenses

There is a variety of licenses that ensure copyrights are upheld regardless of the forum in which music appears. A synchronization license, for instance, is needed to play a song along with a TV commercial. A transcription license is necessary to use a song as part of a radio spot, and a print license is required to print a song onto sheet music.

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