One outlet for marketing your original song material is the traditional route of submitting your compositions to song publishers. Most publishers have far more connections in the business than the average songwriter and are more likely to be able to place your song in a significant project than if you are marketing it yourself. Some artists who use outside material never look beyond a few publishers they’ve had success with in the past. As you’ll see though, not every publishing deal is a good one. Here are a few questions from songwriter Chris Rogers of Troy, Michigan regarding music publishing.

1. How difficult is it to get a contract with a music publisher? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it is quite difficult and it sounds like the process is very much slanted in favor of the music publisher.

BW: I would not characterize obtaining a legit publishing contract as extremely difficult. Most songwriters achieve that goal within a month or two of starting to seriously market their work if they’re persistent and they have the type of songs a publisher would use reels mp3 song dwonload. It’s a matter of quality and persistence and writing songs publishers can market successfully to artists, movie producers, television, cable show producers, etc. If your material is off-the-wall stuff, then it may be more advantageous to explore self-publishing instead but even some music that’s not mainstream might find a home in advertising commercials, documentaries or some of the above mentioned markets.

BW: In general, a new songwriter has little choice but to accept a fairly standard contract or walk away from a single song deal. If the publisher wants a particular song bad enough anything’s possible but you have to remember that only a percentage of songs a publisher contracts are ever recorded so it’s to the songwriter’s advantage to have many songs signed to many publishers.

2. In entering into a contract with a music publisher are there certain common pitfalls that should be avoided? (I’ve obtained a copy of the SGA standard form publishing contract and have read it.) As a practical matter, if the business is slanted in favor of the publisher, how much real leverage does a songwriter have?

BW: Unless you have a track record of hits you have no leverage other than the strength of the song itself so I’d suggest keeping haggling to a minimum unless the terms are seriously out of whack. Most publishers won’t put up with too much hassle over just one song. One point you should almost always negotiate is a reasonable reversion clause giving the rights back to you if no recording has been secured (the SGA contract has one). Most reversions are from one to five years. If the publisher has a great track record I’d be comfortable letting them hold it for a slightly longer period, perhaps seven or eight.

3. Should a songwriter enter into a publishing contract with a music publisher who specializes in placing songs in film and TV? Wouldn’t entering into a contract with one of these publishers limit the potential value that might be realized from a song?

BW: Yes, it could limit the potential earnings. If the publisher handles movies or TV exclusively the song may only receive one chance, if the movie flops the publisher will still own the publishing rights and may not promote it any further, especially if the publishing company is a satellite of a larger company that focuses on movie production.

Perhaps investigate the publishing company’s history to see how other songs they’ve signed have fared outside of movies. If their record is poor and you believe your song has potential beyond the movie, I’d recommend exhausting all other possibilities first.

4. How can you tell a good publishing company from a bad one? I’ve read that some publishers will sign a contract simply to have more songs in their catalog and will do nothing with the song once they have the rights to it. How does one avoid a situation like that?

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