Tech Tip:The Inner Workings of a Music Publisher
by Jeffrey and Todd Brabec
The finance department is responsible for the financial affairs of the company including issuing advances and royalty checks, securing W-9s and other documents required by governmental (state and federal) regulations, budgeting the company's financial year, reimbursing employees for business expenses, analyzing potential acquisitions or deals, payment of bills and projecting income as well as expenses on a monthly and yearly basis.
The Copyright Department is responsible for the proper registration of compositions with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C., the providing of correct copyright notices for all print and record usages, the registration of songs with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to ensure that radio, Internet and television broadcasts as well as other performances of songs are monitored, the filing of copyright renewals, and a wide range of other responsibilities all related to the protection of musical compositions in a company's catalogue.
The Foreign Department is responsible for notifying a company's representatives throughout the world of new record releases, motion picture, home video and television uses so that songs can be registered with the local performance and mechanical rights societies, the signings of new writers or recording artists, ownership percentages of songs controlled, and the acquisition of catalogs, as well as answering any inquiries received from foreign territories concerning the compositions in the catalogue.
The Royalty Department is responsible for checking the royalty statements that come in from music users, making sure that the proper amounts are being remitted, crediting all monies to the proper songs, ensuring that all writers and other income participants are paid correctly, income tracking, and following up with any company that has either not paid or paid incorrectly.
Because of the complexity of the entertainment industry and the increasing demand to stay competitive and provide myriad services to potential music users, many companies have in-house computer personnel who design and provide programs for all departments.
Some major publishers not only have programs to ensure proper royalty accountings but also have programs that generate song reports by recording artist (e.g., all songs in the catalog recorded by Frank Sinatra), by type of music (e.g., jazz instrumental, country, rap, rock, pop), by song (e.g., all records of a particular song with the initial release date and identity of the recording artist), by message (e.g., love songs, car songs) and by income (e.g., gross and net income on an annual or monthly basis).
Some of the larger publishers, which have affiliates around the world, achieve instantaneous global communication by means of computer link-ups that provide daily, up-to-date sharing of information.
For example, information about newly created songs (songwriter identity, ASCAP or BMI membership, percentage of control, exploitation restrictions such as no commercials without consent, territory controlled, etc.) may be transmitted around the world not only for registration with each foreign affiliate but also for automatic registration with foreign performance societies.
© 2004 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec
This article is based on information contained in the new, revised paperback edition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Industry" written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales). musicandmoney.com