Symphonic Shares the Scoop on Publishing

Today we’re sharing an excellent post by Randi Zimmerman on the Symphonic Blog

3 Types Of Publishing Deals and How They Work

Its always a good idea for artists to familiarize themselves with how publishing deals work before committing to that dotted line.

The most common publishing deals are either traditional or co-publishing agreements. With a traditional publishing deal, you’d forfeit 100% of your publishing rights in return for the services the publisher promises to provide.

  • With a co-publishing agreement, artists like you typically give away 50% ownership of their publisher’s share (hence the name, “co-publishing”) when they sign. This means you’ll keep:
    100% of your writer’s share
     50% of your publisher’s share

Deals like these usually last around 1-3 years and have their fair share of requirements from you. However, because the publisher takes partial ownership, they have a greater incentive to make sure you reach your fullest potential and generate as much in royalties as possible.

Another enticing part of a deal like this is the infamous “advance”, aka a large sum of
money offered to you upfront. However, don’t let the pretty exterior fool you. Contrary to
popular belief, an advance is NOT free money.

On the contrary, an administration deal lets you keep 100% ownership of your copyright
(and writer’s share). However, in exchange for the publishing administrator collecting on
behalf of your copyrights, you have to give up an admin fee. This usually is represented
as a small percentage of all incoming revenue from your publishing and the term for this
type of deal is typically 1-3 years.

On the plus side, publishing administrators don’t take any ownership of your copyright at
any point in the agreement. The work they do on your behalf includes registering your
songs with collection societies, collecting royalties on your behalf, and processing
paperwork for any sync or mechanical licenses you may get for a percentage of that
royalty during the term of your engagement.


A work-for-hire agreement is essentially just what it sounds like. This type of deal is
when someone, whether it be a company or an individual, hires a songwriter, producer,
composer, etc. to create unique composition(s) for their projects for a flat fee.

Something to look out for, however, is the possibility of losing all your rights and
royalties to whatever you create for them.

Typically, they can use your work for whatever they like without your consent with a
deal like this.

Before you get too turned off to this idea, that’s not always the case. You could always
work in some ownership percentages to the deal or include a recapture window to try
and secure some type of continuous revenue streams in the future.


It’s up to you to read the fine print and understand what you’re signing before you sign
it. Do your research, demand your own terms, and stick to your guns!

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