Music Publishing 101 | Orondé Jenkins | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Master vs. Composition


    • 4.

      Music Publishers


    • 5.

      Publishing Revenue


    • 6.

      Split Sheets


    • 7.

      Public Domain + Fair Use


    • 8.

      Samples & Interpolations


    • 9.

      DIY Publisher


    • 10.

      Final Project


    • 11.



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About This Class

This class is for aspiring and established songwriters, music producers, arrangers, managers, and anyone else unfamiliar with how the music publishing world works. 

This class will cover the basics of what music publishing is, the types of revenue you can see, as well as some tips and tricks to avoid getting sued. This isn’t “5 Steps To Getting A Publishing Deal” per se, but it could be considered more or less “7 Steps To Keeping Control Of Your Intellectual Property”. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Orondé Jenkins

Artist, Consultant, Autodidact


Oronde Jenkins is a licensing administrator for Warner Music Group, multidisciplinary artist and media consultant, and founder of the websites and Equally proficient in both the business and creative worlds, he specializes in a mixture of areas that can help take your project to the next level.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Welcome to music publishing 101. And congratulations for taking the initiative to learn about one of the more lucrative areas of music industry. My name is around a Jenkins and I've been working in music licensing for over ten years on day-to-day includes reading and analyzing contracts, negotiating and licensing mechanical and synchronization rights, and ensuring that writers and publishers get paid. After years of getting all sorts of questions from artists and songwriters about the complexities of publishing, I decided to put the basics into a brief online course. There's classes for aspiring and established songwriters, music producers, arrangers, managers, and anyone else unfamiliar with how the music publishing world works. While I can't get from music to the people they create stars, I can help you avoid getting screwed over and signing your life away. This class, we'll cover the basics, what music publishing is, the types of revenue you can see, as well as some tips and tricks to avoid getting sued. This isn't five steps to getting a publishing deal per se, but it could be considered more or less seven steps to keeping control of your intellectual property. Your final project will include establishing your very own publishing company. It sounds daunting, but the first steps are simpler than you think. So welcome and get ready to learn. 2. Copyright: To understand these and publishing, you must start at the foundation. Copyright. Copyright is a form of protection provided by us lots of the creators of original works of authorship, including musical, artistic, literary, dramatic, and certain other intellectual works. Examples include musical compositions, books, photos, screenplays, audio recordings, movies, lacked performances, paintings, software, and more. Copyright law grants all copyright owners the right to perform, display, reproduce, distribute, and prepare derivatives of their copyrighted works. And the work is under copyright as soon as it's fixed in a tangible form. This means as soon as it's written down or recorded, whether or not it's published, it is under copyright. It's important to understand that copyright law covers the form of material expression, which is why the following things can not be considered copyrights, titles, and names. Copyright is designed to protect works of creative authorship, not how that work is identified in the marketplace. Ideas. Ideas do not receive protection in and of themselves. Rather, it is the expression of the idea that is protected. Works without authorship or facts. For example, notebook paper. The poem he wrote on it is a copyright, but the actual physical notebook paper is not works by the US government. These are usually in the public domain. The Freedom of Information Act can restrict access to certain works if it's a matter of national security, but everything else is fair game, fashion. You can copyright and artistic design that is printed on the shirt, but not the actual shirt. You should also know that it isn't a requirement to register your works with the US Copyright Office for it to officially be a copyright. But registration does have its benefits and not only creates a public record of the copyright claim, but it is necessary before the copyright owner can sue someone for infringement. In addition, if you register within three months of publishing the work or at least before an infringement occurs, you have the ability to recover statutory damages and attorney fees in the event of a lawsuit. In layman's terms, if you fail to register your copyright yet are successful and sewing someone for infringement, you would only get future royalties. Any money generated prior to the verdict would remain with the infringer. If you are unsure about what you can and cannot copyright, I encourage you to visit to learn more. Knowledge is power and ignorance can get you sued. 3. Master vs. Composition: When you're listening to a song, whether it's pop, country, RMB or hip hop, you're actually experiencing two separate copyrights, the master recording and the underlying composition. The master recording as the audible sounds you hear. And the underlying composition is the music and lyric. While the record company typically controls the master, the music publishers control the underlying composition. Think about the song, I will always love you. The original song was written and recorded by Dolly Parton. Rca Records controls the original master recording and Dolly controls the publishing. Since she is self-published, there have been many covers of this song done over the years. The most famous one, of course, being the 1992 version by Whitney Houston for the bodyguards. And many different master recordings with many different owners, but the same underlying composition. Dolly is a legend. But if she had never written anything else, but this song sheets still be insanely rich. This is why it pays to be the writer as they participate in the revenue for every single master recording created and released that uses that song. This is also why a lot of people try to get right our own publisher credit even when it isn't deserved. But that's a whole other conversation. 4. Music Publishers: A music publisher as a company responsible for exploiting the copyrights of its songwriters and composers and ensuring their proper compensation. In layman's terms, they hunt down money for their writers and get them paid and return for this work, the publisher is entitled to a piece of the revenue generated. There's a lot more that goes into it, but that's the gist of it. One thing to note, if you haven't signed a publishing deal, you are your own publisher. Now there are several different types of publishing deals, but here are the main three. In a standard publishing deal, the ownership and revenue is split in 1.5 share goes to the writer and the other share goes to the publisher. If you have a little bit more clout, you may encounter a co-publishing deal. This is where the writer keeps her 50% share, but it also gets half of the publisher's share. So 75% of the ownership and revenue goes to the writer and the other 25% goes to the publisher. If you have all the cloud and want to retain full ownership of your copyright and administration. Nil is where you want to be. This is where the writer retains full ownership of the copyright and the administrative collects a fee of ten to 20% of the revenue for their work. 5. Publishing Revenue: So let's say you have your publishing deal or set up your own publishing company, and you have a song that's a hit. There are several different types of publishing income that you can participate in. First step are mechanicals. These royalties are generated when songs are released in physical audio forms such as CD and vinyl or a soul for digital downloads and stores like iTunes and Google Play. The mechanical royalty rate is set by Congress and is currently ¢9.1 per song sold, or ¢1.75 per minute for songs over five minutes long. There are cases where a label or other licensing agent will request on lower rate to be granted, though usually offer an advanced check in retirement. The newest income closely related to mechanicals are streaming royalties, which are generated when songs are played on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, usually totaling less than a penny per stream. These are calculated using a percentage of the streaming services revenue divided proportionately amongst a song streamed on a platform. There are also different race depending on if it's an ad-supported stream or paid subscribers string, it's super-complicated. Songwriters are not pleased with the rates myself included, and these royalties will be at or near the top of every copyright fight for the foreseeable future. Then there is synchronization income, which comes from the use of music in an audio visual form and a movie, TV show, video game, et cetera. This is typically paid out as a negotiated lump-sum payout and is usually split equally between the writer and the publisher. Both the master owner and a song's music publisher must approve the use for it to go through. But the publisher has the most power. For example, if the publisher approves the use, but the master owner denies, they could always get another version of the recording. Like for example, taking it back to, I will always love you if the publisher of the song approved the use, but Whitney Houston's labeled denied it. They can always get Dolly Parton spreadsheet or amber Reilly's version or Willie Nelson version. You get the point. But if the publisher denied the use, it's over. Last up on the main types of publishing income or performance royalties which are generated when a song is broadcast in a public medium for public consumption, for example, in a bar or restaurant, on the radio or television broadcast, these royalties are licensed and paid to a performance rights organization or PRO, who then pays the writers and the publishers. The US currently has four key PROs, ascap, BMI or SESAC, and GMR. The first who are the largest and both are non-profit. The third is for-profit and invite only. And so as the fourth, which is the newest, but it's already snagged a ton of high profile writers like Bruno Mars, david Bowie imprints. Another revenue stream that isn't music publishing relate it but related to the master side of things or the digital radio royalties that come from services like Pandora and Sirius XM. These royalties are paid through SoundExchange and R for the owners of the master recording as well as featured artists. Print royalties are also a thing which are generated from the sales of sheet music and more increasingly from lyric reprints within lyric videos. Most people will never see these, but pay makes us somewhere. 6. Split Sheets: The key, create music regularly with others and you don't use them already, you're gonna wanna use them immediately. What I'm referring to a split sheets. A split sheet as a simple document that lays out who owns what part of a particular song. It may seem trivial, but it can literally mean the difference between getting paid and not seeing a die. Here's a brief case study. Singer-songwriter Jesse sky was paired with famous producer ALL black AND fellow up and coming songwriter Nina Johnson to write a song for the famous K-pop group galaxy X0. The writing and recording process, we're both a nightmare and no split. She's wherever completed. After Jesse left the situation, Kahlil ranked for wrapper Kevin McCloud to feature on the song and it was turned into the label with no splits. When it came time to license the publishing, things went further south. Kleos publisher claim 50%, Kevin's publisher claim 45% and included shares for three additional writers. Caimans manager has regular co-writer and the studio assistant that suggested some adjective changes despite writing most of the lyrics and vocal producing the song. And Jesse and Nino rebuff left with 0.5% share each. Clearly they did not agree to this and the song was then placed on hold because of this dispute. When a song is considered an, a dispute, No publishing royalties can be paid out on it and in many cases can even be used. In this case, the album went platinum, but no one saw any publishing revenue from it. Ten years after the release, Jesse sooth, the label and the publishers and received a settlement before it went to trial. All of this could have been avoided if split sheets were done beforehand. Granite, there are plenty of cases where the main songwriters will reduce their shares if rabbit jumps on it or if the artist contributes during the recording process. However, if splits aren't collectively agree to as soon as the song is done, anyone can claim anything down the line. Split sheets should contain the following. The song title, date of creation, the names, publishers, and PROs of each writer, the split percentages each writer owns and every writer signature. You can also do this via email, so there's no excuse. I've provided a blink split sheet that you can print off and take with you to your next session or uses a template for your own. Just remember, it's better to handle business up front and then gets stabbed in the back later. 7. Public Domain + Fair Use: This section won't go into great detail on either topics. So definitely do your research and consult counsel if necessary. A public domain work as a creative work that is not protected by copyright and thus may be freely used by everyone. There are several reasons why a work is in the public domain. The term of copyright for the work has expired. The author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to protect the copyright. Or it's a work of the US Government. Keep in mind, just because it's old, doesn't necessarily mean it's in the public domain. There are plenty of modern songs in the public domain for whatever reason. And there are plenty of classics that are still under copyright. Fair use is doctrine within copyright law that allows for the unlicensed use of copyright protected works in certain circumstances, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. The following four factors must be considered when evaluating whether or not something is fair use, the purpose and character of the US, or how the party claiming Fair Use is using the copyrighted work, the nature of the copyrighted work, the degree to which the work that was used relates to the copyright's purpose of encouraging creative expression, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Courts evaluate fair use claims on a case-by-case basis and the outcome of any particular case depends on a fact specific inquiry. This means that there is no formula to ensure that a predetermined portion of a work or a specific number of seconds, words, notes, et cetera, maybe used without permission. But a big takeaway is this. If you're making money off of it or it's taking money or attention away from them. It's probably not fair use. 8. Samples & Interpolations: There's a lot of music out there that incorporates elements of other songs within them, and it falls within two classifications, samples and interpolations. A sample is a portion of an existing sound recording that is incorporated into a new record. Because this includes both copyrights in a song, You have to get permission from both the owner of the original sound recording and the copyright owner of the underlying musical work. And interpolation, a portion of an existing composition that has re-perform and incorporated into a new song. Because this does not include the original sound recording, you will only need to license the rights from the original music works copyright owner. Now before you run off and do either one of these, Keep in mind that using samples and, or interpolations without permission can lead you to paying damages to the original copyright owners anywhere from 500 to a $100 thousand per infringement. And a core can even force you to recall and destroy all of your infringing albums. There is no magic number of seconds you can use if someone songs without permission or penalty, and fair use does not apply here, get permission. 9. DIY Publisher: If you are just starting out and you control your own publishing, there are some basic things you need to do in order to collect on your revenue. Sign-up with a performance rights organization like ascap or BMI. And a lot of cases, this is how people find you to license your music. Make sure that you sign up both as a writer and a publisher. Is this revenue stream is paid to each separately register your works, not only with your PRO, but most importantly with the copyright office. You can do each song individually or together as a collection, but do not skip this step. Keep good records of all your songs and co writers, as well as your revenue coming in. You could even do this in Excel. If you own your own master recordings, be sure to register your works with SoundExchange. This is a digital performance royalty organization that collects from digital radio like Sirius XM and Pandora, and pays out to the master owners and featured artists. If you feel like you can't focus on this, but want to maintain control of your catalog, looking at partnering with the music publishing administrators such as song trust. This isn't an endorsement to sharing and example. They'll handle collection and paperwork and take a cut from any revenue. 10. Final Project: So for your final project, we're going to establish your publishing company. In all honesty, it's easier than you might think to get started. Step one, come up with five to seven possible names for your company sorted in order of preference. These names can be as clever or straight laced says you want step to figure out which PRO you will sign up. If you're in the US and just starting out, you'll be looking at either ascap and BMI. If you're outside the US, you most likely only have one PRO. Step three, check the PROs websites to see if those publishing company names are taken. If one is replacing to complete your project for the purposes of this class, post your name, your role, and the top five publishing company names you've chosen. Not to complete a free yourself. Continue on to the next steps. Step four, sine of what their chosen PRO is both a writer and a publisher. This is important for all writers to make sure you're getting both sets of revenue. The reason you should have your top five publishing company names. Some may already be taken, even if they don't show up on that PRO website. Step five, once you've all signed up with a PRO, register your works with them. This is to make sure you receive any public performance royalties of your music. Step six, if you're self-published singer songwriter and you release any music projects, register them with the copyright office. This is to add the extra layer of protection. Step seven, register yourself and your works with SoundExchange. Now again, for your final project for this class, I want to see your name, your role within your company, and the top five publishing company names you've chosen. 11. Conclusion: You've reached the end of the course. There's a lot of information at once, I know, but hopefully it helped give a little insight on how music publishing works in the US. Definitely re-watch any parts to make sure you have a handle on it. And don't forget to do your final project. Some resources you can use to continue learning not only about music publishing industry as a whole are as follows. Music pub This is aside I created that basically lays out everything we talked about in this course, but can easily be referenced This is where you can register your works with the Copyright Office and learn more about copyright law in general. Height, this is where you get the latest news about the industry as well as job postings, RAs The site is perfect for new artists as well as those going to independent route has some great articles and resources that can definitely help you along. He also has a book, but I can't vouch for that because I haven't read it yet. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter at music pub 101. Thanks for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you all grow.