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Starting a music publishing company can be a great way to retain more control over your work and get more royalties, but is it the right move for your career? Understanding how to start a music publishing company is an important first step before making any big decisions.

For many artists, working with an existing publishing company makes more sense than spending the time, money, and effort to take the independent route. Read on to learn about the steps required to publish your own music in the United States.

 

1. Start With a Product

In order to be eligible to start your own publishing company, you need a Performing Rights Organization such as ASCAP or BMI to process your application. Naturally, starting a music publishing company requires that you have music that’s ready to be published. Your music can be in the form of a recording, including a physical or digital release. It can also be in the form of a broadcast, such as a film soundtrack or radio play.

 

 

2. Name and Register Your Company

As you learn how to start a music publishing company, don’t overlook the importance of a catchy, memorable name. The name of your company will be used when pitching your music, and changing it down the line can be a hassle.

Once you’ve decided on a stellar name, starting a music publishing company requires that you register with your Secretary of State. This step allows you to get a Federal Tax ID number and open a dedicated bank account for your business. There are various options, including corporation, partnership, and sole proprietorship, depending on how you plan to run the company.

 

 

3. Open a Business Bank Account

As a company, you will be required to pay taxes on your income. While it might be tempting to use your personal account since you’re self-publishing, tracking your finances is essential, so opening a dedicated business account is a must when starting a music publishing company.

 

 

4. Join a Performing Rights Organization

The next step in learning how to start a music publishing company is to determine which PRO you’re going to join. BMI and ASCAP are the major PROs in the U.S. SESAC is another big one, but it’s invite-only.

If you’re only publishing your own music, you can register solely with your preferred PRO. However, if you plan to publish other artists’ music, you’ll need to register with all of the PROs, as your ASCAP affiliation won’t allow you to publish an artist's music if they’re registered with BMI, and vice-versa.

 

 

5. Copyright Your Music

When starting a music publishing company, copyrighting your work isn’t required, but it’s highly recommended. After all, you want to have legal recourse options if someone infringes on your intellectual property. To copyright your music, you’ll need to submit an application with the U.S. Copyright Office. Fortunately, you can submit your music online. Unfortunately, it can take months for approval.

 

 

6. Register With a Mechanical Rights Organization

The final step in your journey of learning how to start a music publishing company is to register with mechanical rights organizations, such as The Harry Fox Agency, The MLC, and Music Reports. This is a crucial part of starting a music publishing company because these organizations collect and distribute the royalties associated with streams, downloads, sales, and other revenue outlets.

 

7. Take a Business Class Before Getting Started

Before starting a company, you should take a music business class. The music publishing industry is notoriously difficult to navigate, especially without a solid foundation on the business side of things.

At 1500 Sound Academy, we offer live online classes taught by highly respected industry leaders who can help you proceed with full confidence, whether you decide to work with an established publisher or try to make money as an independent artist. If you’re ready to advance your career, we can help you get there. Before starting a music publishing company on your own, learn from experienced professionals. Enroll today.