In this post, I’m going to discuss one simple thing you can do, that if you haven’t already done, could potentially double your licensing income overnight. This is something that is super easy to do and that will only take an hour or two to completely set up, depending on the size of your catalog. What’s that? Creating your own publishing company of course.
As a reminder, whenever a performance royalty is generated from a song or composition, the royalty consists of two halves: a writer’s half, and the publisher’s half. If you don’t assign the publishing royalty to someone else, you as the song’s creator, are by default the song’s publisher and entitled to any publishing revenue the song generates.
However, in order to collect the publishing share of the revenue that you are owed when one of your songs generates a performance royalty, you need to have a publishing company in place with your PRO (Performing Rights Organization) to collect this revenue.
For the sake of this post, I’ll be using ASCAP and BMI as examples. If you’re outside of the US, or belong to a different PRO, like SESAC, check with your PRO for details on how to get set up as a publisher, as they all function slightly differently.
To become a publisher with ASCAP, you simply sign up for a publisher membership. I’m with ASCAP and setting up my publisher account took all of about 10 minutes and cost 50 dollars. If you’re completely new to ASCAP, you can join as both a writer and publisher when you sign up initially, or if you’re already a writer member you can join as a publisher too.
Here’s more info on why and how to register as a publisher with ASCAP:
With BMI it works slightly differently and if you're only licensing your own tracks, you don't technically need to register as a publisher to collect publishing royalties for tracks you also compose. With BMI, the fee for setting up your own publishing company is higher; $150.00 for individuals and $250.00 for corporations.
Here’s more information on joining BMI as a publisher:
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there’s really no good reason to not set up your own publishing company if you’re actively pitching and licensing your music. In fact, even if you’re not licensing your music and only making it available to stream online, you should still set up a publishing entity, as there are additional monies you’ll earn as the publisher of music that is streamed online. You’ll be leaving money on the table, that you’re entitled to, if you don’t, and if you publish your own music, you’ll essentially be doubling the amount of income you make on the back end.
It’s important to point out that if you have already registered titles prior to setting up your publishing company and you didn’t assign your publishing rights to anyone, you’ll need to revise your song registrations and list your publishing company as the publisher, otherwise you’ll continue to not earn the income you’re owed as the song’s owner/publisher.
So, if you haven’t already set up your own publishing entity, what are you waiting for?