Songwriter & Music Publisher Relationships 101

A music publisher often represents the first step in a songwriter’s career. Signing with one can make the difference between success versus the songs you write just “collecting dust.”

But the relationship between a songwriter and a music publisher is full of contradictions.

I’ve seen many music publishing professionals and songwriters develop lifelong friendships that go far beyond the business of writing and marketing songs. I also know of multiple music publishers and songwriters who purposely avoid one another at industry gatherings, parties, shows, etc., and will talk trash about one another no matter who’s listening.

While personal differences can sometimes be the cause, it’s usually an issue material to the original publishing agreement often first sparks the conflict between writer and publisher. So it’s important to understand the variables at play in music publishing agreements.

In this series, I will highlight these with real world examples to illustrate how these things work.  

Benom Plumb is an Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver. He is a veteran music industry professional with over 12 years of experience in music licensing and publishing, including VP of Licensing at Nashville publisher Bluewater Music. He is not an attorney. For more info about Benom, visit his website at www.professorplumbmusic.com.

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