How to Get a Music Publishing Deal

Things You'll Need

  • Entertainment attorney
  • 2009 Songwriter's Market (or most recent edition of this book)

Music publishing is a complex business that begins with a written song. A song is published, it's recorded, performed live, played on the radio, turned into sheet music, featured in a movie or on TV or in any other way made available for public consumption. The copyright owner of the song is entitled to royalties but, depending upon the publishing deal he makes, will share royalties with other people or companies.

Purchase a copy of the most recent edition of the "Songwriter's Market." This book contains hundreds of markets for songwriters. Before you can get a publishing deal, you need to sell songs to publish. This market guide offers contact information, submission guidelines and publishing deal information to help you determine where you want to place your songs. You can also consult an online music publisher database, but the information will not be as complete as it is in the "Songwriter's Market."

Select a couple of markets that fit the material you have to offer. Follow submission guidelines for submitting your songs to these publishers. This is the part that can be time consuming, but if you have quality material, there's a chance you will eventually find a market for it. The key is persistence.

Get an entertainment attorney as soon as you've sold something and there is a contract to sign. There are several variations on publishing deals, depending upon the policy of the publisher you sell your music to, the performers involved and other factors. A basic deal is a two-share deal—the writer's fifty percent and the publisher's fifty percent. An entertainment lawyer can go over everything for you, so be sure you have a lawyer before you sign a deal. You can locate an entertainment lawyer through an online database. While any lawyer will work, a lawyer specializing in entertainment knows the business.