How To Start a Music Publishing Business

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Starting a music publishing business isn’t the hardest thing to do, but it still has a certain process that one must follow. One recommended way to begin is by taking classes online in business management - these courses will teach you how to run any business smoothly and efficiently.

There are forms, waiting lists, and money out of your own pocket involved. To start your own publishing business, you must first choose one of three performing rights agencies, using a company name that you have chosen. Then, you must open a bank account, sign clearance forms, and get a business license followed by a federal tax ID.

First and foremost, you have a choice of three performing rights agencies. Your choices are BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. The three agencies have an initial affiliation fee, but after that you do not pay them again. These agencies clear your name and make sure you are getting paid every time someone uses your work (or the work of someone in your publishing business).

Now, in order to be paid for your work, you will be asked to come up with a company name. The name should be entirely unique, so your performing rights agency won’t confuse you with another company. The name can be something representing the music you publish, or your own name backwards. Either way, you need this name so your performing rights agency will know where to pay your royalties.

So where will your money go? Instead of asking this question, you will already know the answer. Your next step will be to open a bank account in your music publishing company’s name. Your performing rights agency will put your money in this account.

Next, you will need to deal with the legal side of a music business. You will be asked to sign clearance forms. The only thing a clearance form really does is divide the percentage of what you and your client will be earning for the music you publish.

However, without a business license or a federal tax ID, you will have no use for your new bank account. You need a business license to be able to conduct your business. You should label your company as a sole proprietor, a general partnership, a corporation, or a DBA. Once that is finished, you will need a federal tax ID to finish up those last minute forms from your performing agency.

Starting your own music business takes patience with the legal work and the use of your money. It takes keeping your skills up-to-date with regular online courses in business management.  It takes imagination to come up with a unique name, and it takes brains to handle your money and your talent well - but if you are determined and enthusiastic, this can be a very rewarding career for you.


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