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Music Publishing: Contemporary Trends Add in library

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Describe about the music publishing busines?


The music publishing business is connected with developing, valuing and protecting the ethics of contemporary music. It is a diverse scaled business demanding exceptional skills. Music publishers do play an important role in introduction of new music and taking care of the business perspective of allowing composers and all the songwriters to revolve around and concentrate all the resources for the creative work. The primary aim of music publishing is to seek out talented songwriters and encourage them to produce music by providing required facilities. The music publishing industry have been for a long time a part of the multi billion dollar venture (Stuessy, 1990) which has evolved recently at a remarkable pace. Music publishers have become central to the field of contemporary mainstream music starting from the time of 15th century marking the invention of Gutenberg press till the development of music copyrights from the 17th century rising up till 20th century. The present trends of music publishing industry have been altered at a drastic rate with downfall of the physical merchandize such as compact discs or cassettes and replacement with the new multi streamed revenue sources such as digital streaming, mobile music outlets, wireless music subscription services (Gibson, 2004) etc. This report would dwell deeper into the current trends in the music publishing industry along with having an insight into some real life examples and practical case studies for the changes in the music publishing industry. These changing trends can guide the songwriter to launch the music in the publishing industry in a contemporary format to gain maximum of the profits and secure the future success based over various revenue streams and multiple alternatives for launch.

The main task of music publishers consist of pitching the relevant material to the potential audience in the aim of maximizing the profits and earnings of the writers and publishers and to collect the license fees from the broadcasters, commercial venues, some foreign royalty organizations and from sheet music and sync licenses. The year 2008 did bring a lot of drastic changes in the publishing industry of UK. The music publishers active in the region had many failed attempts in order to create a pan European regime for licensing (Throsby, 2002) but now all the major publishers of the nation have withdrawn the exclusive rights for digital distribution from European societies like MCP.

Based over the type of the licenses provided by the music publishing companies, the market is segmented into public performance, folio license, reproduction, mechanical or synchronization each having different attributes and different modes of revenue at different set prices. Also, they are handled by many governing bodies and the licenses have to be attained separately.


There was a shocking phase for the music publishing industry in the early years of 2000 when there was a high rise growth of file sharing and piracy (Fox, 2004). Many of the investor and stakeholders were quite skeptical about the growth and future of the music industry and publishing assets. But, the savior were the rise of legal alternatives for the consumption of music offered to the listeners in an affordable and convenient way. However, the royalty revenue have remained stable in the duration of past 15 to 20 year duration attracting many huge investors to the music publishing. The present position of the publishing industry is generation of about six billion dollars per year at a global level.

‘The Alliance’ was formed between PRS and MCP (Rothenbuhler, 1982) during which the music publishing industry of UK established itself primarily as a global leader in the early years. The pan European position have been settled now with the internet distribution having access to both performance rights catering to communicating with the public and the mechanical rights referring to the copy in each and every transactional process. The result of the rights was formation of Joint Online License (Cunningham, 2002) which was a very creative and innovative approach and a platform that allowed any of the service may it be offered downloads, streamed music or subscription access for music publishing to operate in UK all falling under one agreement. This concept was adopted further by many other societies and groups. But the intended simplification turned into a collapsed system as the one stop shop for all the music enthusiasts as a single pan European license failed to create the intended impact. Further, the EMI Music became one of the first publisher to independently set up a joint venture with The Alliance group and GEMA, the German society. This collaboration was famous as CELAS offering digital rights (Tom 2009) to Anglo-American stock on the basis of the pan European. Some of the real life examples showing collaborations for the solutions in the music publishing agency are joining of Sony ATV with GEMA known as PAECOL, and collaboration of Universal with SACAM in France. The present position in the UK music industry pertains with obtaining the licenses for any kind of major commercial work or offering any online service relating to the music from each of the group CELAS, Universal, PAECOL and PEDL (Hull, 2011). The major issue is that only two of these publishing bodies follow up English law making the situation difficult. Presently the system has put barriers to entry for all the new online providers of music.

This industry is presently witnessing the course alteration transformation with a plummeting sales of some physical albums and conversion of the entire industry over the digital space and platform. With the state of flux there are various opportunities provided for the aspiring music publishers and song writers. A Performing Rights Organization (PRO) represents the music publishers and thereafter, pays them with the performance royalties when the song are played in the public domain (Scott, 1999). In practice, whenever these songs are played on television, radio, clubs or other restaurants or are performed live the writer is provided a right to be compensated and the role of the governing body SESAC is to ensure the payment to the writers. The staff of publishers and writers are one of the best as per the talent meter in the development stage as they are introduced with the songwriter partners and the potential mentors to understand the intricacies and technicalities of the business.


Music licensing have also emerged being a major focal point of consideration for the purpose of revenue and exposure for the new talent in the music publishing industry. Now a days the labels and artists can make a huge sum of money by licensing their music to television shows, corporate videos, computer games, web based videos, indies, documentaries, applications, mobile phone tunes (Dane, 1998), advertising commercials, feature films and other forms of newly emerging media. It is a form of direct revenue from the licensing fees in addition to royalties obtained from sync placements. It has become a good catalyst for career making and gives good exposure to artists.

Copyright is one of the most important asset owned by a musician to maximize the income and expand the exposure. It is a form of intellectual property owned by a musician in the form of documentation. The ownership rights give control of distributing, performing publically, reproducing, creative directives of displaying them.            The musical composition copyright can be given to both the compose and the lyricist at equal share and the creators have the exclusive rights to have a control and monitoring of who all can produce records or copies of their songs which can be granted in the form of mechanical license or royalties. On the other hand, there is involvement of record labels, artists and producers transferring ownership of their copyrights known as artist royalties. Both of these licenses have to be obtained differently by the governing bodies.

In terms of opening up a new publishing company, there is a need to affiliate the newly opened company with any of the three performing rights organizations, one of them being like SESAC. The approval of the whole process might take the time of about 6 weeks. On the other way round, the company can register works for live performance payments that allows independent music publishers of the songwriters to earn additional royalties. Forms have to be filled with the copyright office with the permission of the PRO.

The latest noticeable trend is of music publishing development deal where some of the major publishing companies can offer advance to the songwriter or the artist in anticipation of a successful career in the future with good record deals. This is one of the dream opportunity given to the artists as the publishing company handle the expenses of professional learning and grooming in music industry. For example, Paula Cole entered into the industry by the means of advance deals and earned a lot of royalties for himself and the sponsoring publishers. This goes on with the procedure that the publisher offers a huge sum of about twelve thousand to thirty thousand dollars in advance for one year deal (Power, 2002) and in return the artist have to give fifty per cent of the publishing rights of all the songs written in the agreement duration.


Recently, there are some of the positive factors that are having influence over the dynamics in the publishing industry. The termination of the licenses and transfers provision for the Copyright Act giving writers a chance to reclaim their rights. The royalty earnings are likely to be boosted up in the upcoming years and in the near future due to enormous and explosive growth of the platforms of digital media such as Spotify, YouTube’s Music Key, and Deezer.

YouTube has become one of the great ally for the music licensing and publishing industry giving an incredible fortune and platform to seekers. Web based advertising and music branding have collaborated innovatively to grow rapidly in the industry. YouTube has accumulated billions of play on videos using copyrighted music and they under the rule of YouTube monetization policy (Wikström, 2013) have to give royalties pertaining to all the views. The uploader of the video needs to get permission from the copyright owner as well as the performing master and from the side of the publisher, he needs to gain a synch license and from the label concerned he needs to fetch a master use license in the present times of contemporary digital media publishing.  

Royalty Exchange is a startup formed in the year of 2011 to create a marketplace where it will be easy to auction the royalty revenue stream to the attributed investors. Many songwriters can use this as a platform to share a part of the royalty income. One of the very live example is the producer and the songwriter Preston Glass working with Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin auctioned about 15 songs of himself by the medium of this Royalty Exchange Platform (Preston, 2011). He raised a sum of 158,000 dollars from an investor who is benefited by receiving a cut of the songs when they are played on the media modes or is streamed digitally online. The company takes up 2.5 % from buyer and about 5 to 12.5 per cent from the seller. This Royalty Exchange has sold more than the amount of 2 million for more than 2000 songs. It is expected that the platform will significantly expand once the SEC will pass the final regulations over the JOBS Act’s general solicitation rules.

The renowned name of Irving Azoff in the music industry as an ex Chairman of Live Nation and dealer and manager of record industry have colonized the publishing space. Global Music Rights company was formed with collaboration of Azoff with PRO heads and managers that offers licensing, collection and distributing services for the exclusive rights (Nash, 2010) that are granted to very few number of artists.


A multi revenue stream is adopted by the music publishing industry and is popular by the platform of 360 degree deals. The annual value recorded of the British record industry was about 634 million Euros and in which 402 million euros was of the publishing sector (Vogel, 2010) generated from merchandize, fan services and brand partnerships being additional.  Presently, the single major internet initiated music publishing challenge and music industry revolution is of the innovation of direct-to-fan in which many labels have missed out the potential revenue means.

Though writers have a perception about exploiting their works based over Internet, viral video sites and music search engines but, the song writers need to register the copyrights with the world governing bodies and the performing rights societies and some of the mechanical licensing organization. They also have to review the royalty statements and all the payments received from organizations. In the contemporary times, the agreements of the songwriters with the music publishers are more likely in the direction of helping the finance and the careers of the writers themselves. A publisher may offer advance royalties with all the facilities or in some cases songwriters are secured for the future collaboration over the digital media stream.   

The present trends have brought in a slightest relief with revering record industry and the difference of about 0.2 % hike from 2012 to 2013 in the music market making the decline end up. Booming and aspiring digital revenues actually played a prime role in renewing the optimism for the industry. The subscription based streaming service is gaining most of the attention with some of the majorly focusing sectors such as iTunes or ad funding in YouTube or some other application Vevo (Hracs, 2012) that have brought in an interesting series of revenue system. Public performance licensing is also becoming one of the key sources of revenues for the record companies.

Therefore, the system of 360 degrees (Throsby, 2002) and multi revenue streams with incoming of digital media and digital streaming have killed the physical record system and have transformed the entire publishing industry on to a new domain and have opened new opportunities and dimensions for the new artists and aspirants. The new players are entering into the realm of the music publishing industry ranging from private equity funds and going to the record companies due to incoming of diversified revenue streams. Hence, this study provided a deep insight into the recent trends of the music publishing industry giving an idea for the future projects. It is recommended for the songwriter that he may either go for the dream opportunity for an advance collaboration with the music publishing company or try out for the innovative digital streaming revenue modes in a multi dimensional approach.



1. Stuessy, J., & Lipscomb, S. 1990,Rock & Roll. Prentice Hall.

2. Gibson, C., & Klocker, N. 2004, ‘Academic publishing as ‘creative’industry, and recent discourses of ‘creative economies’: some critical reflections’,Area, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 423-434.

3. Throsby, D. 2002, ‘The music industry in the new millennium: Global and local perspectives’,Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity. Paris: UNESCO–Division of Arts and Cultural Enterprise.

4. Fox, M. 2004, ‘E-commerce business models for the music industry’,Popular Music and Society, 27, no. 2, pp. 201-220.

5. Rothenbuhler, E. W., & Dimmick, J. W. 1982, ‘Popular music: Concentration and diversity in the industry, 1974–1980’,Journal of Communication, 32, no. 1, pp. 143-149.

6. Cunningham, S. D. 2002, ‘From cultural to creative industries: Theory, industry, and policy implications’,Media international Australia incorporating culture and policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources, no. 102, pp. 54-65.

7. Tom Frederikse, 2009, Major changes in the UK Music Publishing Industry, Available:, [Accessed: 28/5/2015].

8. Hull, G. P., Hutchison, T. W., & Strasser, R. 2011,The Music business and recording industry: Delivering music in the 21st century, Taylor & Francis.

9. Scott, A. J. 1999, ‘The US recorded music industry: on the relations between organization, location; and creativity, in the cultural economy’,Environment and Planning A, 31, no. 11, pp. 1965-1984.

10. Dane, C., & Laing, D. 1998, ‘The UK music industry: Some recent developments’,Cultural Trends, 8, no. 31, pp. 3-23.

11. Power, D., & Hallencreutz, D. 2002, ‘Profiting from creativity? The music industry in Stockholm, Sweden and Kingston, Jamaica’,Environment and Planning A, 34, no. 10, pp. 1833-1854.

12. Wikström, P. 2013,The music industry: Music in the cloud, Polity.

13. Preston, P., & Rogers, J. 2011, ‘Social networks, legal innovations and the “new” music industry’,info, 13, no. 6, pp. 8-19.

14. Nash, R. 2010, ‘Publishing 2020’,Publishing Research Quarterly, 26, no. 2, pp. 114-118.

15. Vogel, H. L. 2010,Entertainment industry economics: A guide for financial analysis, Cambridge University Press.

16. Hracs, B. J. 2012, ‘A creative industry in transition: the rise of digitally driven independent music production’, Growth and Change, 43, no. 3, pp. 442-461.
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