If you’re serious about getting published as a musician, there are a few important factors to take into consideration. One of the earliest decisions to make, of course, is how to publish your music. We’ve all heard the horror stories of musicians getting locked into unfavorable contracts, then watching everyone but themselves get rich as their career takes off. If you know what to look out for, though, you can ensure that you make the best choices for your music career.
Another early decision will be where to record your music. Whether you’re doing it yourself, or you’re just the composer behind the performers, it’s key to find a music producer who recognizes your vision. When looking for a nearby recording studio, you should consider not only local options but also online options on sites like Tunedly. No matter how you end up recording your music, your music producer should foster creativity and offer honest feedback as well. If that isn’t available in your area, maybe an online option makes more sense.
Once your music has gone through the production process, it’s time to decide who will publish it – you, or a publishing company. If you aren’t sure what you think of either option, here are some considerations to put both choices into perspective.
Self-Publishing vs. Using a Publishing company: how do they compare?
If you want the short version, here it is: most experts recommend that up-and-coming musicians self-publish to start with. The main advantage to this is that they have total control over their brand, so they can take more care in developing it to their liking. However, there are some disadvantages to this as well; the decision isn’t always that cut-and-dried. Let’s take a closer look at the details.
Publishing companies handle the admin work
From drafting license agreements to registering your songs, it takes a lot of legwork to publish music. Not only because it requires a lot of time and effort, but also because it requires a fair amount of legal knowledge as well. So basically, a music publishing company spends a lot of time on relatively specialized tasks – tasks that self-published musicians would take a lot longer to complete on their own.
Self-publishing puts control over brand image in your hands
If you sign a contract with a music publisher, you’ll be ceding some level of control over to them. You’ll definitely be able to negotiate how much of that control you keep, but in most cases, it won’t be 100%, like it was before. If you self-publish, though, you’ll be able to call the shots more effectively.
How would this play out in real life? One big factor is where your music gets played. In the beginning, it could seem like a win to have your music in the background of a cut-rate dog food commercial, let alone playing in people’s cars or homes. But taking the quantity-over-quality approach isn’t necessarily the best way if you want to maintain a certain image. Do you want to build a unique, loyal fanbase, or do you just want to make money as quickly as possible?
As compared to self-publishing, if you were working with a publishing company, you’d probably feel more pressure to take undesirable offers just for the paycheck. If you were exclusively in charge, however, you could take the slower road with more peace of mind, knowing that you had a future goal in mind that would be worth the delay in notoriety or money.
Publishing companies handle the promotion side of things
One of the main advantages of using a music publishing company is the fact that they offer a ready-made network that they can use to promote your music. In this area working with publishing companies is better as compared to going for self-publishing. They’ll know who’s most likely to be interested, which opportunities would be the best fit for you, and so on. For many musicians, this makes the cuts in their royalties worth the blow.
The truth is that, without this network of contacts in the music industry, you’d have to do all the networking yourself – from scratch. You’d have to work harder to get in the door every time, and you’d have to work harder to be taken seriously. Even so, this can still pan out; don’t start thinking that it’s impossible. It’s just that it takes a lot more commitment compared to using a publishing company.
Self-publishing will give you a higher percentage of royalties
The vast majority of music publishing companies take 50% of royalties. Go the self-publishing route, and you’ll get to keep 100% of them. That’s a pretty huge difference, and it plays a big part in many musicians’ decisions to self-publish. Thus, when it comes to making profits, self-publishing is much better as compared to working with publishing companies.
Self-publishing vs. using a publishing company FAQ
Getting your music published is a tall order, whether or not you’re using a publishing company. Not only is there a lot of work to do, but there are a lot of decisions to make – and a lot of questions to answer. Here are a few of the most common questions related to music publishing.
Will music publishing companies ask for exclusive rights to my music?
In most cases, they won’t. Some publishing companies will even publish a single song, rather than an album or EP. If you’re talking with a publishing company that’s pressuring you to sign over the rights to all the music you’ll ever write, it’s time for you to look elsewhere.
Is networking important for self-published musicians?
Yes, it absolutely is. If you want to get anywhere as a self-published musician, you’ll have to invest a ton of time and energy into developing the right connections.
Is touring necessary?
Not always. If you’re the composer, but not the performing artist, you can skip the touring. If you’re performing your own music, however, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t tour to generate interest in your music.
Whichever option you’re leaning towards, there’s no doubt that your music-publishing journey deserves careful planning and consideration. As long as you always make informed decisions, you’ll have a much better chance of finding success as a musician. Based on my thoughts, I would always go with self-publishing because I can make more profit. But, yes, I would have a bit more extra pressure of legal work and all but that is all worth it when your profit is doubled.