The Inner Working of
a Music Publisher

by Jeffrey and Todd Brabec
Part one | Part two

Most publishing companies are divided into a number of separate but interrelated departments, all of which are important to the company's success. Each plays an integral part in the success or failure of the operation.

Chief Executive

The president or chief executive officer brings in many of the deals, determines what acquisitions should be made, and provides much of the direction, insight, and motivation that make every successful company work.

In some cases, the CEO's role is that of an overseer charting the direction of a firm and its overall activities; in others, it is a role of intimate involvement with the functioning of virtually every department on a daily basis.

In almost all cases, the reputation, integrity, foresight, experience, and drive of the chief executive sets the tone for the entire company as well as the image of the company worldwide.

Creative Department

The Creative Department's role is to listen to new material, go to clubs and other venues to see writer-performers live, make recommendations on what writers to sign, help writers with the structure of their songs, and promote or "run with" songs to record producers, recording artists, motion picture companies, and television producers.

Many of these individuals are also familiar with the ins and outs of recording studios and produce or help produce many of the demo sessions for new songs.

Many of the experienced ones are also able to develop songwriters as recording artists and produce "master quality" demos for selling writer/performers to record companies as artists.

Promotion Department

The Promotion Department has the responsibility of promoting the catalog by designing and preparing promotional CD packages, songbooks, and other items for distribution to recording artists and record producers, television, motion picture and trailer producers, ad agencies, home video, merchandise, greeting card, jukebox, video jukebox , ringtone and premium companies.

Business and Legal Affairs Department

Business Affairs (which in many companies also serves as the legal department, since most business affairs executives are attorneys) is responsible for negotiating, drafting, and approving all contractual agreements entered into by the company.

In addition, if any other department requires advice on how to approach a particular situation or problem, the business affairs executive is the one who will be called on to assist because of his or her experience and knowledge of how the industry works. This department can also assist in formulating recommendations on how a firm should deal with the issues related to changing technology, current legal decisions, congressional trends, and the licensing of newly created uses of music.

Synchronization Licensing Department

Synchronization licensing relates to the use of songs in television programs, commercials, home video, motion pictures and other audio visual projects. Included in the responsibilities of this department are the negotiation of fees for the use of songs, issuing licenses, keeping track of options for additional media (e.g., home video in a television license) as well as following up on all music licenses that have or are about to expire.

Mechanical Licensing Department

This department is responsible for handling all license requests for the use of songs on CDs, audio tapes and records as well as downloads.

Responsibilities include the issuance of licenses to record companies or download services, negotiating mechanical rates (if a company is requesting a rate that is less than statutory), negotiating advances and providing label copy credit.

If the publishing company licenses mechanical rights through the Harry Fox Agency in the United States, this department will coordinate licensing activities with Harry Fox personnel and provide all necessary information and direction so that licenses can be issued.





© 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). www.musicandmoney.com












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