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Music publishing remains the most lucrative areas financially in the music industry. It is one of the major ways in which songwriters generate income through licensing the music for various uses, and collection of corresponding license income. This article explores the advantages of hiring the services of a music publishing company over a songwriter handing his own publication. It also explores the various types of licensing a songwriter can make use to generate income.

Some songwriters prefer handling their own song publishing but many songwriters prefer hiring the services of professional publishers to publish their songs. Publishing through the professional companies offer three advantages over own publishing (Butler, 2000). One, the companies do the most crucial of promoting and marketing the songs using their resources and networks. Secondly, the publishing company deals with all the administrative work involving licensing, copywriting and royalty collections. Lastly, the company can assist an artist to develop by identifying other songwriters and lyricists, with whom the songwriter can collaborate. However, the publishing companies takes 50% of the revenue generated from the songs for the services they offer.  This is the reason why some songwriters opt to publish their own songs.

The most noteworthy sources of revenues for songwriters Emanate from different types if licenses, namely: Mechanical licenses, synchronization licenses, performing rights licenses, foreign license and print licenses.  A mechanical license grants a recording company or any other party or person the right to duplicate an artist’s song. Once an artist produces one song commercially, any other parties can reproduce the song and sell the recorded version of the song, on condition that they pay the songwriter or copyright owner the license fee.

According to Butler (2000), an artist earns from the performing rights license every time the song is performed publicly, in which case the artist earns loyalty income. It does not matter where the performance was by a band or it is the recorded version since they both meet the criteria of public performances. Synchronization licenses, on the other hand, allows a songwriter to authorize another party to use the song with visual images, which might be from a film, video, commercials or other audiovisual productions. In this case, the artist earns synchronization fees.

Print licenses allow songwriters to authorize the sale of their songs in printed form either as a single song sheet or as a part of a folio. Artists sell print licenses to companies that make and distribute printed music (Butler, 2000). The songwriter earns loyalty for each unit of a music sheet or folio sold. Foreign licenses, on the other hand, allow songwriters to earn loyalty whenever the songs get airplay in foreign countries. In most cases, songwriters maintain agents in foreign countries to help in the revenue collection. These agents then remit the amounts they collect to the songwriter or their publishers.

Though publishing music remain to be a highly lucrative business, songwriters do not always enjoy full benefits for their work. There are rising cases of piracy, which deprives them some of their income. People are also able to download songs free from the internet without having to buy from the artist leading to loss of revenues. Moreover, some publishing companies exploit artist, especially the new and upcoming artist, reducing the amounts they earn from their music. The companies earn a massive 50% of all the revenues they collect (Butler, 2000). Moreover, the above some of the above licenses are negotiable meaning the amounts an artist earns depends on their negotiating skills. Is an artist has strong negotiating skills, he or she is likely to earn more, but if their negotiating skills are poor, then their loyalty income will be small. 

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