Music is a Business (Publishing Edition)

Being a musician is a business. Musicians are artists and entrepreneurs.

One of the ways to earn money as a musician is through music publishing, which for example includes placing existing music in TV series, films, video games and commercials.

The second annual MEGAPHONO showcase music festival takes place in Ottawa, February 2-5, 2016. On Friday, February 5, 2016 at 10am at Live on Elgin (220 Elgin; 2nd Floor) our entertainment law firm is presenting MEGAPHONO’S Publishing Session.

We’re honoured to be joined by Tom DeSavia (Head of Creative Services from the music publisher “SONGS Publishing”), Bronte Martin (A&R Director at Third Side Music), Mikaila Simmons (Music Supervisor at the music supervision company “Instinct Entertainment”) and Ottawa’s own, musician Rolf Klausener (The Acorn). From Edwards PC, Creative Law, Mark Edwards will be moderating and Byron Pascoe will be on the panel.

For the 90-minute panel, we intend to cover and take questions on Music Publishing 101, the journey for an artist to obtain a publisher, the music supervision process, what it’s like for an artist to work with a publisher, multiple publishing models, etc. Also, there shouldn’t be a publishing panel without talking about dollars and cents – the range of money artists earn from publishing.

Emerging artists in the audience will learn what needs to be done to attract a music publisher, including creative ways to make music most appealing for a publisher. While an artist perspective may be that the foundation to it all is creating interesting music, for a music publisher, they may also want to see a wide range of formats for the submitted tracks.

On the legal front, we’ll discuss what’s in a publishing agreement, and cover some of the key terms, including grant of rights, term, minimum delivery commitment, retention period, unexploited compositions, advances, royalties and net income.

Publishing companies from SONGS to Third Side Music work with artists on-one-on to develop the artist’s career and provide unique publishing opportunities. There’s also a wide range of companies approaching musicians to place the musician’s music in the company’s library for music licensing opportunities. While it may be exciting to receive an unsolicited email from a publishing company, there are a variety of terms that musicians should understand and seriously consider before taking the first offer on the table.

We’ll cover some of the red flags, which include the following:

1. Requiring the musician to pay fees up front to the company;
2. No limits on expenses that the company can get reimbursed before the musician is paid;
3. Strong language that the company is not obligated to do anything;
4. Naming a contract “non-exclusive” but including exclusive provisions;
5. Being told that you can leave any time, but not providing for an easy exit;
6. Lack of rights to audit statements;
7. Lack of restrictions for the kinds of placements, for example regarding commercials for firearms to religious uses.
8. Limited remedies if the musician is not paid; and
9. Lack of clear provisions regarding credits.

It’s not all negative, and advantages may include giving up fewer rights to have someone in your corner on the publishing front.

The key advice about any publishing agreement is to read and understand it. We help clients understand and negotiate their agreements. However, the first step is thinking about a music publishing strategy, and hopefully this panel will assist.

For more information please visit http://www.megaphono.tv/

The panel costs $10 at the door, and delegate passes are $100.


Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

Regarding music law, Byron Pascoe works with musicians and music companies to assist with record label agreements, publishing contracts, distribution deals, producer agreements, band agreements, etc.

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.



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