Publishing your music in 5 easy steps

  • 1.  You want to publish your music because of the money. If you want all the money due from a public performance of your song, from, for example, radio play, the song must be published by a music publisher and registered with a performing rights organization. There are two ways to get your music published, find a honest music publisher who’s willing to take you on as a client, or publish your own music.

    2.  Select a performing rights organization. You can choose between three organizations: ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. Look them up on the Internet, gather information on then and choose one.

    3.  Choose the right name. You should choose a name for your music publishing business. It's suggested that you pick 3 names out, and choose for the last one, if you are lucky that name will be available. The organizations do not want any chance that the money you should be receiving from your songs is going to someone else, so they will reject names that are even similar to names already registered with their or another organization.

    4.  Form your business. After the name clearance, you should form a business in your state or country where you have a registered agent. This business formation process might be as simple as what, or filing an assumed business name. If your business is just going to be you, then this simple process is o.k. However, if more than one person is involved in the business, co-writers, band mates, etc., It's strongly recommended that you form a more structured business, for example, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation. The operating agreement or by-laws for the business should address who does what, who owns what, how members are compensated, how new members join, and how members can leave.

    Some organizations charge a non-refundable application fee and some require “proof” that you are a real music publisher. That’s one reason why it is important to put the publishing information on the CD and liner notes - proof that you are a real music publisher. While you can complete the application yourself, you may save time by getting help from someone experienced

    5.  Register your song with the organization. After acceptance of your publisher application by the organization, each of your songs published by your publishing company must be registered with the organization. This is the other reason it is important to put your publisher information on the CD and liner notes. If you get airplay, the radio station owes you money. You must let them know who to pay.

    For example: If your songs are played, the radio station lets ASCAP know that they played your songs and sends ASCAP a check. ASCAP then looks up the songs on their registration, there it is , registered to Your Name Music Publishing, and they cut you a check.
    Song registration is also the way to let your performing rights organization know how to divide up the royalties.

    Good luck to you!