How to Get a Music Publishing Deal

by Dj Roots Queen

Music publishing deals are a great way for artists to earn income, but what are they and how do you get one?

A publishing deal is a bit different than a label contract. Whereas a record company owns the masters, a music publisher owns the copyright. There are two kinds of copyrights, the song, and the recording. Yes, I know it sounds confusing, and it is, so I will explain it in a way that is easy to understand. The copyright of the song refers to the lyrics and the melody. This is owned by the songwriter.

The second refers to the actual recording of the song. Record labels typically own the recording of the song, or the master. Music publishers get involved before the song is recorded by acquiring a compulsory license. This grants a music publisher the right to create a recording of the song by the owner. Got it? Good.

Why would I want a music publishing deal over a record deal?

As a more elusive stream of income, publishing deals help artists generate revenue streams outside the scope of the tried and true methods to earn income as an artist, such as shows, album sales, and merchandise. Publishing deals are often for a shorter amount of time than a record deal that usually has a limited negotiation leverage. Essentially, you would still own your master recording in a publishing deal.

Please remember that a publishing company is investing in you with the promise of generating income. Just like a record deal, which is essentially a loan, a publishing deal is a loan that must be recouped, and if you get dropped, the company will own some of the rights to your songs until they make their money back.

What are the benefits of having a publishing deal?

Although signing a deal with a publisher is a risk, there are many pros of having one. The upfront money, or advance, helps many songwriters be able to support themselves while having the time to write songs. You will also receive a demo budget, which will help pay for studio time, mixing, and mastering. When done properly, these elements can become pricy.

In addition to upfront money, you will also have access to a team of people who will help plug your song for you and find placement opportunities. It is a great networking opportunity because it gives you validation in the music industry.

Getting the deal

If you want to be a songwriter, act like one

Cliff Goldmacher

Now that you know the basics of how publishing deals work, I am sure you want to know what you need to do to get one. The first thing you need to do to get a publishing deal is to put yourself on a regular writing schedule. Create a schedule and adhere to it as you would an actual job.

It’s important to network and find opportunities to meet decision makers in the music industry and build relationships. Attend music conferences, join songwriter associations, and join cutting edge social media networking apps, like Clubhouse.

The next step is pitching your songs. This is where relationships come in. You must learn how to leverage them in the music business. The first step is connecting to as many people as you can on social media and following up. You want to be sure to engage in a genuine manner on a regular basis. Micro-interactions are great for this; nobody wants to seem thirsty.

The biggest key to remember is that it’s not about what people can do for you, it’s about what you can do for other people. Forget your agenda and help someone else with their dream and everything will fall into place. Doing consistent work will automatically bring opportunities your way as a songwriter.

Don’t give up

Remember that consistency is key. I know very popular artists who have been putting in hard work for years and are still independent and have never had a publishing deal. This is an industry that requires hard work, dedication, and time. Don’t expect to follow these steps and have a deal overnight.

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About the Author

Dj RootsQueen is an American dj based out of Atlanta, Ga. Originally from Tampa, Florida, she began spinning when she was 17 years old. She found a niche djing fashion shows, artist showcases, club and industry events which put her in place to Dj for Young Jeezy’s Gourmet brand in 2013. Later that year, She launched her award winning radio show, Rude Girl Radio, on Dj Clue’s Desert Storm Radio.

In 2015, she was signed to Zaytoven and subsequently moved her radio show to his radio station Digital Dope Radio. She is now a Zaytoven’s official tour Dj, having performed at such events as “Red Bull Producer Round Table” with Zaytoven, Sonny Digital, and Metro Boomin and “Piano Night’s” with Gucci Mane and Zaytoven. Dj RootsQueen recently appeared on Team Zaytown Global for the Red Bull Music Culture Clash 2018 and the Maxim Big Game Experience with Diplo, Future, Jaimie Fox, and Yo Gotti for Super Bowl 53.

”With over a decade of experience in the music industry, my specialty is music marketing with a focus on project development. As a professional dj, I have an eye for music trends and discovering new talent. Some of the major artists I have helped develop are YFN Lucci, Future, Usher, Young Dolph, and Zaytoven. I create music advertising launches with successful marketing strategies by planning and preparing advertising and promotional materials to increase the sales of products. I dj and host celebrity album launches, multinational company events, concerts, and festivals. I initiate promotions and create successful social media campaigns surrounding these events and album releases. I have extensive experience producing and programming podcasts, radio shows, and live broadcasts for syndicated and internet radio. I produce and engineer high profile, award winning radio shows with celebrity interviews. What I play at live shows and on air is reported to media base and is tracked via BDS. I discover and cultivate famous music artists through project development, picking hit songs, studio session management, music consultation services, social media marketing, and playlist curation. I understand that everyday, new content is being released to consumers at an exponential rate. My promise is to develop appealing music marketing messages that will attract the attention of your target audience. I will help brands build their fan base using my network and audience in a way that increases brand awareness and product sales, whether it be bookings, merchandise, streams, or album sales. “