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Music and business: 10 sure steps to getting your music publishing rights for good

Getting the rights to your music publishing involves a series of steps to ensure that you have proper control and ownership over the use of your musical compositions. Here’s a guide on how to get the rights to your music publishing:

  1. Understand the Basics:
    • Know the difference between the two main rights: mechanical rights (related to the reproduction of your music) and performance rights (related to public performances of your music).
  2. Create and Document Your Work:
    • Ensure that you have a clear and documented record of your musical compositions. This includes sheet music, audio recordings, and any other forms of documentation that can prove you are the creator.
  3. Register with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO):
    • Sign up with a PRO such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. These organizations collect performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. Registering your works with a PRO ensures you receive royalties when your music is performed publicly.
  4. Join a Mechanical Rights Organization:
    • In some countries, organizations like Harry Fox Agency (HFA) in the United States help handle mechanical royalties. Joining such organizations ensures that you receive royalties when your music is reproduced.
  5. Consider a Music Publishing Administrator:
    • Music publishing administrators can help you manage your publishing rights by handling tasks like licensing, royalty collection, and administration. This can be particularly helpful if you’re just starting.
  6. Maintain Control of Your Copyright:
    • Be cautious about signing away your copyright. If possible, retain control over your musical compositions, especially the copyright. If you work with a publisher or a record label, negotiate terms that allow you to keep ownership.
  7. Use Publishing Agreements Wisely:
    • If you choose to work with a music publisher, ensure that the terms of the publishing agreement are fair and in line with industry standards. Seek legal advice if needed.
  8. Keep Detailed Records:
    • Maintain meticulous records of your works, agreements, and any changes in ownership. This helps in case of disputes or when licensing opportunities arise.
  9. Educate Yourself:
    • Stay informed about music publishing rights, industry standards, and changes in regulations. Knowledge is key to protecting your rights.
  10. Seek Legal Advice:
    • Before signing any agreements, especially complex ones, it’s advisable to seek legal advice. A music attorney can help ensure that your interests are protected.

Remember, the landscape of music publishing can be complex, and the specific steps you need to take may vary based on your location and the specifics of your musical career. Always consult with professionals in the industry to make informed decisions about your music publishing rights.


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