How to Start a Music Publishing Company?

How to Start a Music Publishing Company?

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The Undying Love for Music

Music is and forever will be mankind’s finest creation as history speaks for itself. There are artists like the Beatles who have reportedly sold over 600 million copies and only God knows best how much they actually sold. Speaking of Him, there are some ethnic cultures that believe melodies as a holy creation. For example in the Hindu tradition (which is in fact the oldest religion in the world), music was invented by Saraswati who is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakhsmi, and Parvati.

(Fun fact: did you know that George Harrison one of the OG members of the Beatles embraced the Indian Culture. And after his passing away, his remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered according to Hindu tradition in a private ceremony in the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers of India.)

You don’t have to look around much to understand the impact music has on culture, our lifestyles, the economy, and human development. With over 1,264 genres of music, there is a genre for everyone out there. It is practically the language of the universe.

According to a recent report by, the total revenue generated by the music industry amounted to $21.5 billion in 2019. That is saying only for the recorded amount, who knows actually how much was made? Furthermore streaming made 56% of this figure and thus was able to bring about $11.9 billion globally. I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that knowing about how to start a music publishing company, would be a fine way to reach for the stars.

But wait for a second and hold on there! Actually, the thing is I do know how to get this done, which is why I would like to share this small guide to help you jump on the bandwagon whenever you think you are ready.

Setting Up Your Own Music Publishing Company?

Perhaps one of the biggest questions that pop up is why should I set up a music publishing company in the first place. Let me remind you that between an artist and publisher, the publisher has got it way easier since they don’t require the talent to produce spellbinding tracks or the creativity needed to deliver stupendous lyrics with a quality beat to go with it.

Secondly, once you make a name for yourself, many artists out there would simply reach out as creators and businesses, and the majority of your earnings will come through their hard work. Your means of earning are fundamentally through royalties and licensing fees. If you talk in terms of song ownership, a publisher usually ends up with a 50% stake on a single track, and that a huge chunk of the cake, don’t you think?

If you are still doubting let me tell you that according to the American music publishing association or the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) statistics annual revenues hit over $3.33 billion in 2018 which is an 11.78% increase from one year to another. Currently, the industry is projected to grow even further. As a reasonable person, the odds are with you rather than against you, is all that I am saying.

Becoming Eligible – A Member of the Collection Society

In order to become a legitimate music publisher, you first need to become eligible by becoming a member of a collection society. In the US we have names like ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers), who are named as the US-centric performing rights organizations.      

You would need one of them to file your registration, and in order to do that, you would require a song of your own or someone else that you want to release. This song can also be a digital release, CD, a part of recording, contained in the soundtrack of a motion picture, or could even be included in a radio or television broadcast.

Registering as a Local Business

It is quite obvious that if you seek to start a business then you would be required to register your business with the Secretary of the State. By doing so you would be allowed to have a business banking account along with an assigned Federal Tax ID number. You will also have several options to choose from on the type of business you are registering for. This can usually range around options such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

Visiting the Copyright Office (Optional)

Once you have submitted your application to a PRO (Performance Rights Organization) mentioned above, you might want to protect your company’s songs from infringement. A visit to the copyright office can help you acquire the legal protection you need to protect yourself from others with malicious intent.

Register with Harry Fox Agency

The HFA is the collector, provider of rights management, and distributor of mechanical license fees on behalf of music publishers in The United States. Simply contact them and register as a publisher which has to be done in addition to registering with a collection society.

Marketing Your Music Publishing Business

Now with everything set and ready to roll you will definitely require a custom logo design service that can create a unique and appealing logo for your brand. Follow this up with a quick search for the best custom website development company to get your website up and running.

It is pretty obvious that apart from your website you will be obligated to work within established networks and build strong and unbreakable relationships. This would require patience on your part as well, along with attention to detail that will evidently include a lot of legwork.

Financing Your Project

According to the Rolling Stones magazine, there are several companies out there that can offer you quick cash to start your venture in the music industry. These include:

·         Lyric Financial

·         Royalty Advance

·         Sound Royalties

On the other hand, offers its estimated cost of running your own operations, such as:

·         Copyright Administration and Royalties Software - $25K-$50K upfront, and $5K-$15K per year.

·         General Expenses - $3K-$6K per year

·         Legal, Tax Withholding Treaty Management, Accounting, & Affiliation Fees, etc. - $50K-$100K upfront, and $20K-$40K per year.

·         Office space for two in major metropolitan area such as NYC, LA, etc. - $1.2K upfront as a security deposit, and $7.2K-$14K per year.

·         Publishing Administrator - $39K-$65K per year.

·         Royalty Coordinator - $39K-$65K per year.

Hence a conservative total cost of one year could easily be around $169,400 per while a high total cost for one year could be around $317,800. It is important to know that these estimates include health benefits, maintenance & hosting fees, postage, equipment, incidentals, and miscellaneous costs.  


The music industry is filled with passion but it can quickly become cruel to those who take it lightly. Stick to a professional model of work until you make a name for yourself. Stay sharp and witty in your decision-making skills because you will come across a lot of actors who would do anything to pretend that they are the next Elvis or MJ. All the best for your future endeavors, and Cheers!        

Written by

Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts is a digital marketer. He loves to blog about digital marketing, designing, and business growth. A true lover of Coffee with chocolate cakes!