by Jeffrey and Todd Brabec
One of the important aspects of a co-publishing agreement is how the various parties to the agreement share the income that is earned from CD and tape sales, downloads, subscriptions, videos, performances, motion picture, and television synchronization rights, commercials, streaming, and all other sources of revenue generated by a writer's songs.

The most common sharing of income arrangement in this area is known as the "50/50" split. This equal sharing of income (50% to the writer's company and 50% to the major company) refers only to those monies that represent the music publisher's share of earnings.

It does not relate to the writer's share, since the songwriter will still receive his or her 50% songwriter's royalties regardless of the terms of the co-publishing agreement.

A simple diagram comparing the standard writer-publisher contract and the co-publishing agreement can best explain this sharing of income between the writer's publishing company and the major publishing company.

Writer Monies (50%)

Publisher Monies (50%)
Writer's Publishing
Company (50% of
Publishing Share)
Major Publishing
Company (50% of
Publishing Share)
Writer's 50% share
Writer's 50% share of publishing
Total earnings for the writer
Major Co-Publisher:
Copublisher's 50% share of
publishing monies
Figure 1

Under the standard music industry publishing contract, the writer generally receives 50% of the net income earned from uses of his or her songs, and the publisher receives the other 50%. For example, if a total of $100,000 is received by the music publisher from the sale of CDs or downloads, the publisher is entitled to retain $50,000 and the writer receives $50,000.

Under the co-publishing agreement, however, the writer receives not only his or her 50% share of songwriter income but also receives a share of the publisher's share. If we keep our previous example of $100,000 received by the publisher from CD and download sales and assume a 50/50 co-publishing arrangement, the income would be shared as set forth below.

As can be seen, the songwriter receives 50% of all monies received, with his or her publishing company and the major publisher sharing the remainder equally. In effect, the writer and his company receive 75% of all monies earned, and the major "copublisher" receives the remaining 25%.

To illustrate the arrangement once again through the use of actual dollar figures, the sharing of income is shown in Figure 1.

The basic 50/50 co-publishing agreement is not the only type of royalty split encountered in the music industry. Another type of co-publishing agreement provides for a 75/25 split of publishing income between the writer's company and the major publisher.

Under such an arrangement, the writer will receive his or her full writer's share of income (50% of all monies that are earned) as well as an additional 25% of the publisher's share of monies earned (25% of the remaining 50% of all income).

Assuming our $100,000 example, the writer's company would receive 25% of the $50,000 publisher's share ($12,500) and the major co-publisher would receive the other 75% ($37,500).

Under this arrangement, the writer and his or her publishing company would receive an aggregate total of $62,500 of the $100,000 earned and the major publisher would receive the remaining $37,500.

© 2005 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).

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