What is a Music Publishing Agreement?
A music publishing agreement is a contract between a music publisher and a songwriter or composer, in which the songwriter or composer agrees to transfer certain copyright rights in their musical work to the music publisher. These rights typically include the right to reproduce the work, to create derivative works, and to distribute the work. The music publisher may also agree to promote the work and to exploit it commercially. In exchange for these rights, the music publisher typically agrees to pay the songwriter or composer royalties for the use of their work.
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Music Publishing Agreement: What are the Main Points?
The parties: This is where you’ll find the names of the songwriter and the music publisher.
The work: The agreement will identify the song or songs that are being published.
Territory: This section will state where the song can be exploited. For example, “worldwide” or “North America.”
Term: The term is how long the agreement will last. It will be either for a specific period of time or “in perpetuity,” which means the agreement will last for the life of the copyright.
Rights granted: The music publisher will list the rights they are acquiring from the songwriter. These will usually include the exclusive right to publish, reproduce, and distribute the song.
Royalties: The agreement will state how the songwriter will be paid for the use of their song. This will usually be a percentage of the song’s earnings, such as royalties from sales, streaming, and performance rights.
Advances: The agreement may also include an advance, which is a lump sum of money paid to the songwriter upfront.
Credit: The agreement will usually state how the songwriter will be credited when their song is used. For example, “Written by [songwriter’s name].”
Ownership: The agreement will state who owns the copyright to the song. This is usually the songwriter, but the music publisher may acquire a “co-publishing” interest in the song.
Assignment: The agreement may include a clause that allows the music publisher to assign their rights to another party.
Termination: The agreement will state under what circumstances either party can terminate the agreement. For example, if the songwriter dies or the music publisher goes out of business.
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