Do I need a Music Publisher as a Beatmaker?

Introduction to Music Publishing

Music publishing is a crucial aspect of the music industry that deals with the management of music copyrights and the distribution of royalties. It’s responsible for ensuring that composers and songwriters receive compensation for the use of their musical compositions in various forms. While it’s often associated with songwriters and composers, it also applies to beatmakers / producers. As a beatmaker/producer, you are contributing to the composition of a song which ultimately means you are a composer! Every song that is released will have two copyrights: The sound recording, and the composition — Music Publishers handle the composition side.

The Role of Music Publishers for Beatmakers:

  1. Royalty Collection: Just like songwriters, beatmakers can earn royalties when their beats are used in various contexts, such as in songs, commercials, or films. A music publisher can help ensure that you receive these royalties promptly and accurately.
  2. Licensing Opportunities: Publishers have the expertise to license your beats for different purposes, including in music recordings, videos, and other creative projects. They can negotiate fair licensing deals on your behalf.
  3. Legal Protection: Music publishers can assist in protecting your intellectual property rights. This includes registering your beats with copyright authorities and taking legal action against unauthorized use.
  4. Administration: Publishers handle the administrative tasks related to your beats, such as tracking their usage, managing contracts, and ensuring that you’re properly credited.

Do You Need a Publisher as a Beatmaker?

Whether you need a music publisher as a beatmaker depends on your goals and how you want to manage your music career. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Goals and Ambitions: If you aspire to have your beats widely used in commercial projects, having a publisher can open doors and help you reach a broader audience.
  2. Administrative Burden: Managing copyrights, licensing, and royalty collection can be time-consuming. If you’d rather focus on creating beats, a publisher can handle the business side for you.
  3. Industry Connections: Publishers often have established connections in the music industry, which can lead to placement opportunities for your beats.
  4. Financial Considerations: Keep in mind that publishers typically take a percentage of the publishing royalties they collect on your behalf. You should weigh the benefits against the costs.

In conclusion, while having a music publisher isn’t mandatory for beatmakers, it can be advantageous for those looking to maximize their income, protect their work, and access more licensing opportunities. It’s essential to assess your specific goals and decide whether partnering with a publisher aligns with your career objectives.


Types of Publishing Deals

Each type offers different arrangements and benefits, and it’s important to understand the distinctions between them:

1. Co-Publishing Deal:

In a co-publishing deal, the beatmaker and the music publisher share ownership of the publishing rights for the beat. Typically, this arrangement involves a 50-50 split of the publishing rights and royalties generated by the beat. Here’s a breakdown of key aspects:

  • Ownership Split: In a co-publishing deal, the beatmaker retains 50% ownership of the publishing rights, and the publisher also owns 50%.
  • Royalty Split: The royalties generated from the beat’s usage, such as sync placements, mechanical royalties, and performance royalties, are equally divided between the beatmaker and the publisher.
  • Creative Control: Beatmakers often have more creative control over their work in co-publishing deals, as they maintain a significant ownership stake.
  • Advantages: Beatmakers can benefit from having a publisher’s expertise in licensing, royalty collection, and administration while still retaining substantial ownership and control.

2. Administration Deal:

An administration deal, on the other hand, does not involve the transfer of ownership but rather grants the publisher the right to administer and collect royalties on behalf of the beatmaker. Here’s how it works:

  • Ownership Retained: In an administration deal, the beatmaker retains 100% ownership of the publishing rights. The publisher does not acquire any ownership stake.
  • Royalty Collection: The primary role of the publisher in an administration deal is to collect and manage royalties generated by the beat. They handle licensing, tracking usage, and ensuring that the beatmaker receives their royalties.
  • Creative Control: Beatmakers maintain full creative control and ownership of their work. They can continue to make decisions about how their beats are used.
  • Advantages: This type of deal allows beatmakers to keep complete control over their creative work while benefiting from the publisher’s expertise in royalty collection and administration. It’s often seen as a more artist-friendly option.

Choosing the Right Deal:

The choice between a co-publishing deal and an administration deal depends on the beatmaker’s goals, preferences, and negotiation power. Co-publishing deals can provide more substantial financial rewards but may involve sharing creative control and ownership. Administration deals, on the other hand, allow beatmakers to maintain full ownership and creative freedom while benefiting from administrative support.

It’s crucial for beatmakers to carefully review and negotiate the terms of any publishing deal to ensure that it aligns with their career objectives and preferences. Additionally, seeking legal counsel or advice from music industry professionals is advisable before entering into any publishing agreement.