We look at Damian Keyes’ latest YouTube offering today. This is his ultimate guide to music publishing companies. The video above shows that it is still possible to make money from music – even when music itself is now a completely free commodity. This post will also help you to get the right music publishing company that you can to support your musical dreams.

Inspired by Damian Keyes' recent YouTube video about music publishing companies, this post will help find the right music publishing company

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Please read on for the ultimate guide to music publishing….

The Ultimate Guide to Music Publishing Companies

How much are you expecting to make from your music? How much do you think people will pay you to listen to your music. Although you have spent hours creating it, the sad truth is that you won’t make much from your music. It is easily accessible, completely free and you don’t stand to make a penny from it. I know you have shed blood and tears over making the music. However, people are always going to get it for free if they can.

You pay Spotify a monthly fee to be a member, but the artists are getting a fraction of a penny when people stream their music. The money that you pay Spotify is really so that you are not bombarded with annoying advertisements. It’s that simple.

That being said, there are a tonne of opportunities out there for you to make money with your music that don’t involve fans paying for your CD or paying to download your music. Let’s look at music publishing and how you can make money through music publishing.

What are Music Publishing Companies?

Your music is split two ways. Firstly, there is the master. There is also the music publishing. It depends on who owns which parts as to who gets paid and how much they are paid as a percentage.

As Damian Keyes mentions in the video, bands like Coldplay and U2 split the money equally between the band members. However, if the writer of the song is also the person performing it, they usually get a larger part of the royalties.

The fact that the singer-songwriter gets a bigger part of the royalties means that other musicians will often struggle financially. Meanwhile, the singer-songwriter leads a luxurious lifestyle. This is because the other musicians are getting a different royalty rate than the performance rights.

Which Part Makes the Most Money?

The music publishing gives the owner the rights to the ownership and management to the rights of the music. The owner has to exploit the song and make as much money as possible from it.

Inspired by Damian Keyes recent YouTube video about music publishing companies this post will help find the right music publishing company

When Is Music Monetized?

Whenever you hear music on the radio, at the cinema, on TV, on a video-game, etc, someone is earning money for the streaming of that song. It is the role of the publishing companies to collect these royalties and distribute them to the right people.

Even if another band or artist makes a cover song of one of your songs, or even if they use lyrics from your song, you still get paid. The band or artist making the cover will have to purchase a license. On Distrokid, this is something like $10 so doesn’t break the bank.

Your computer will time-stamp your work. Therefore, if you have the first copy of the music, you will be able to prove that. It will save the time-stamp on your computer, your telephone, as well as multiple places online. Sites like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc, will all time-stamp your work. Therefore, you will be able to prove that you are the original owner of the copyright.

The Example in Damian’s Ultimate Guide to Music Publishing

The example in Damian Keyes’ Ultimate Guide to Music Publishing is ACDC’s Back in Black. Apparently, this song was the biggest money spinner for any band in 2016. Back in Black was used by tonnes of different movies. However, Marvel’s Iron Man made very heavy use of Back in Black.

The above song propelled the band to success in 2016. Altogether, the band made a whopping $67.5 million in 2016 alone. This was for all of their music sales in 2016. However, the fact that the track was used in Iron Man enabled them to generate so much money.

ACDC made more money than any other band or artist in 2016. Back in Black had a big part to play in that success.

What is the Role of Music Publishing Companies?

The role of the music publishing company is to make as much money as possible from the sales of a band’s music publishing. There are tonnes of artist’s recently who have sold the rights to their music catalogues. Bands like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fleetwood Mac and Shakira have already sold their publishing. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers made $140 million from the sales of their publishing.

Music Publishing Companies Manage the Talent As Well As The Music

When you get signed to a music publishing company, you are an asset. This is in exactly the same way as the music itself is an asset. This kind of reminds me of the original record contract. In the past, a label would more or less own the band. Today, it is the music publishing company who own the band. Therefore, if you want to be a rich music artist today, you need to be working with a music publishing company.

The Example in Damian Keyes’ Video

The example in Damian Keyes’ video is of a 17-year-old girl who is great at writing music. She has the fans. She has tonnes of social media buzz. Therefore, this girl is the music publishing company’s dream. However, this girl is not a great lyricist. Because of this, she is teamed up with someone who is excellent at writing lyrics and the result is some excellent music with excellent support.

The music publishing company can now continue to work with both parties and make some serious money from the publishing contracts. Don’t forget that a music publishing company’s biggest ambition is to make money for themselves. That is the only reason they are in business. They view you as an asset. You may be paid well, but to them you are owned by them.

Using Briefs in Your Work

Many music publishing companies will give the artist or band a brief of what they are looking for. These briefs will detail exactly what they are looking for and you have to write a piece of music that fits that brief perfectly. One example of a company that will issue briefs is Pond5. They produce a brief o\n every first Thursday of the month. This will tell you exactly what their customers are looking for.

Inspired by Damian Keyes recent YouTube video about music publishing companies  Choose the right music publishing company

Using a Music Supervisor

A music supervisor will be listening to music all day, every day in search for the right music. These people will be tasked to find the right music for the right project. The vast majority of projects will have a music supervisor. It does not matter whether it is for an advert, a TV programme, a film, a video game, etc. The role of the music supervisor is to take control of the music and tie up any loose ends.

How Much Money Do Music Companies Make?

Typically, the music company will make 25% of all the money that is made. Therefore, if an artist’s publishing is sold for $100 million, they will make 25%. There is money in this game! However, very few artist’s will be able to sell their music for that much money. In fact, many artists won’t even make $1 million for a deal like this. It depends on who you are and what your music is used for.

Many music publishing companies will have the ability to get your music much further because they will have contacts in all the different companies who require music. Therefore, they are the ideal people to go to.

Can You Do This Yourself?

You can, of course, do this yourself. You would then be able to get 100% of the money. However, your reach will not extend as far as a music publishing company. However, as Damian Keyes points out in the video, a company are more likely to use a music publishing company. This is especially if they are a paying out money for a Hollywood film.

Loopcloud Sounds

How Do You Get a Music Publishing Deal

Music publishing companies are looking for a few different things in an artist who wants to work with them. These include…

1 You Have to Have Leverage

This is the most important thing if you want to work with a music publishing company. Therefore, you have to have some great songs or a back catalogue that people are going to pay attention to.

The best way to gain leverage is to co-write or collaborate with other artists. You need to find the best musician you can find and strike up a rapport with them that will lead to work on new material. Eventually, you will have new music that you can offer to a music publishing company.

If the artists that you worked with features any of your songs on their albums, you own that copyright. This is what is known as leverage. You can now approach the music publishing company with your rights, sell those rights and make some serious dosh for yourself.

2 Get the Services of a Music Industry Lawyer

A music industry lawyer is a great person to know in the industry. They will know a lot of different people and how you can and should move forward if you have the talent. However, you must be prepared for them to be brutally honest with you. They may hate your music. If this is the case, you haven’t lost anything. Just approach another music industry lawyer.

However, if they agree to promote you to their contacts, they will require a sum of money and they will tell you how and where they will promote your music.

What is the Difference Between Solicited and Unsolicited Music

Many music publishing companies will not look at unsolicited music. This means you can’t just go to a music publishing company and give them your music. They will require a third-party to refer your music to them. Therefore, they will be happier to take the recommendations of a music lawyer than directly from the artist or band.

music publishing company

3 Build Up Your Leverage When It Comes to Your Socials

Can you show a music publishing company that you have fans who genuinely love your music? If you have a lot of interest from people who love your music, the music publishing company will take note. These people should not be fake fans, or people who might be interested in your music. You need to make sure that you have fans who love your music. If you can do that, you are on to a winner.

4 Look For Your Own Music Publishing Opportunities

You can do this yourself. You just have to be prepared to knock on 1,000 doors and get 1,000 rejections. As someone who really hates being too salesy, I wouldn’t want this. I hate rejection. Therefore, this would not be for me. You should go for it if ou don’t mind rejection.

Rocky Balboa says, “When you get hit in the face 400 times in a night, it starts to sting after a while”. That is how I view sales. I hate rejection so I won’t do this. However, if rejection is something you can handle – especially if it is constant rejection, you should go for it. That is a quality that many people don’t have.

Inspired by Damian Keyes' recent YouTube video about music publishing companies music publishing company


Thank you for taking time to read Music Publishing Companies: The Musician’s Guide. If you haven’t already, please see Damian Keyes’ video at the top of this post. Alternatively, you can find another Damian Keyes post that I recently blogged about here. If you would also like to read any of my other recent posts, please choose from the list below…