What does a publisher do?

Being a publisher requires in-depth industry knowledge and experience. Forming a publishing business requires you to apply your creative and industry knowledge and experience to the development of other writers and their catalogues in return for a percentage of their royalty income.

Note: If you are a songwriter and want to find a music publisher for your own works, please click here to review a list of APRA AMCOS publisher members.

Publishers specialise in genres of music and some do not accept unsolicited material, so find out which publishers work within your area of composition or songwriting. Being a publisher requires in-depth industry knowledge and experience. It entails a high level of accounting processes and responsibilities. Consider the following:

  • Are you adequately prepared and resourced to market, administer and monitor the work of other writers so that it will generate a meaningful royalty income?
  • You will be expected to register the works and agreements with APRA AMCOS. Do you have the required software, hardware, computer literacy and copyright knowledge for how to do this? 
  • How do you intend to earn your percentage of royalty income?
  • Do you have a network of music users and the means to promote your writers’ works to them?
  • Are you in a position to advance money to a writer before collecting any income? (this may be an important incentive to artists).

Industry knowledge

  • Is your music industry experience adequate to creatively and strategically guide your writers?
  • Do you have strong relationships within the creative industries that will allow you to exploit your writers’ works in different environments?
  • Are you in a position to market your writers’ works to the key business partners: record companies, media networks, film and television production companies,
    online service providers, advertising agencies, and print publishers?

Business acumen

  • Do you have a detailed understanding of copyright, locally and overseas?
  • Do you understand the difference between performance, mechanical, print and synchronisation rights and how they are administered?
  • What is your understanding of how the changing technological landscape is shaping the way that music is marketed and sold?
  • Do you have the ability to create and issue legal licences to multiple businesses?
  • Are you equipped to monitor the use of your writers’ music around the world?
  • Do you understand the legal terms and obligations of a publishing agreement? Have you used the services of a lawyer to construct your songwriting agreements?
  • Are you in a position to administer your writers’ finances, deduct tax, and correctly report to your writers about how their works are performing financially?
  • If registered in Australia your ABN/ACN, GST registration status and bank details will need to be up to date. If registered in New Zealand your NZBN/NZ Company No./IRD, GST registration status and bank details will need to be up to date. These are things we’ll need in order to pay you your royalties. 


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