How to Publish Your Own Music | All You Need to Know About Self-Publishing
How do I self-publish my music? As an artist or songwriter, knowing how to publish your music is extremely important. Whether you choose to use a publishing company or you’re doing it yourself, you need to know how it all works.
How to self-publish your music. Understanding the concept of music publishing is so important if you want to do it yourself. Self-publishing successfully is tough, but we have some tips to help you find the best ways to self-publish your music.
Self-publishing UK: If you don’t know how to self-publish properly, you’re going to struggle to succeed in the music industry. Below are some of the ways you can learn how to self-publish music.
How to publish your music
In this article we will cover:
- How to publish your music
- How to self-publish your own music
- Independent music companies
- How to publish your music online
- Do you need a publishing company?
- How to license your own music
Music publishing explained
Firstly, it’s important to understand, what exactly is music publishing?
Music publishing is the management of copyrighted music that gets used commercially. A publisher is responsible for things like the collection of royalties, the public use of music made by the artists they represent and finding licensing opportunities.
Some artists take care of publishing on their own – this is called self-publishing.
Self-Publishing Music: Learning how self-publishing music works will allow you to make a name for your music and hopefully make some money from it. The perks of self-publishing music are that you distribute it without working with a music publisher.
What do the major publishers do? Read this article:
How to publish your own music
There are a few things you need to consider before you start self-publishing your own music.
Are you prepared?
If you’re at the stage where you feel like you’re past uploading demos to Bandcamp or Soundcloud, ask yourself, are you definitely prepared?
Is your music high enough quality to compete with music that is in the charts (or at least, the professional music in your genre)? Services that help you self-publish (like Tunecore) require you to invest a small amount of money into them. Make sure you’re ready to commit to this.
Do you have the assets?
This is pretty obvious – do you have actual music to publish? Record your songs onto a demo CD first. You’re going to need material to hand out almost all the time, especially after performing at gigs or any other functions you might be performing at.
Produce good quality material. It sounds obvious, but as you’re doing the production of your songs, if the quality isn’t good enough, the fault lands on your shoulders.
Once you have a few professional recordings together, you’re ready to start self-publishing.
How can I publish my own music?
To self-publish your music properly you need to register it with a ‘Performing Rights Organisation’ (PRO). If you’re looking to earn money from your single, E.P. or album, you need to do this. You also need to do this if you want all the money due to the public performance of your song (such as a gig or radio play).
You can find a reputable music publisher who’s willing to take you on as a client, or publish your own music and register with a PRO. It’s definitely possible that you may be able to register your music with a PRO and earn royalties without working with a major publisher (such as Warner Chappell).
We’ll get on to PROs shortly, but firstly it’s important to note – always consult an attorney for the laws and rules where you live and/or create music if you’re not sure about anything.
So, once you have some songs together that you’d like to publish, select a performing rights organisation.
In the U.S., you can choose between three PROs: ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. They’re all slightly different, so it’s best to gather information on them and choose the one that best suits your needs.
As a publisher, you can register with multiple PROs, but you can only register a single work (as an album) with one PRO.
How to get a song published in the UK – PRS
PRS is the UK Performing Rights Association. PRS for Music is the home of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS).
If you’re a member, PRS will collect royalties for you when your works are performed or communicated to the public. This means that if your song is played on the radio, in a shop, or even at your own gig, you will be owed a payment.
Alternatives to PRS
PRS is the main company to register your songs with, however, as an artist, you may want to consider using other platforms that do additional things for you as a musician.
Sentric is a platform that ‘puts songwriters and artists first,’ offering a fair publishing deal in the music industry.
If your music is performed live, streamed, played on the radio, or on YouTube, Sentric gives you control to collect your royalties globally from one portal, with no upfront fees.
You may prefer Sentric’s interface and what it offers you as an individual musician.
How to publish your music online
In this section we will cover:
- Publishing your music online
- How to publish your music on Spotify
- Publishing your music on iTunes
- How to publish your music on YouTube
As an artist working in 2019, you’d be crazy not to publish your music online. Publishing your music online is one of the most powerful ways to reach a global audience by just clicking a few buttons.
If you’re an artist looking to publish your music, check out this article here:
How to publish your music on Spotify & how to publish your music on iTunes
When it comes to publishing music to these platforms, the ways that most people go about putting music on Spotify and iTunes are similar. There are, however, plenty of different options to choose from (depending on your budget and music catalogue quantity) below.
How to get songs published – UK independent music companies
Tunecore is an independent digital music distribution, publishing, and licensing service founded in 2005.
It principally offers musicians and other rights-holders the opportunity to distribute and sell or stream their music through online retailers such as iTunes, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Tidal, and others.
TuneCore also offers music publishing administration services, helping songwriters register their compositions and collect royalties internationally.
CD Baby Inc. is the largest online distributor of independent music in the world.
The company has been described as an “anti-label” as it’s so popular with self-publishing artists. It provides a comprehensive alternative to a large music publisher.
CD Baby is the only digital aggregator with top preferred partner status with both Spotify and Apple Music. It’s home to more than 650,000 artists and 9 million tracks that are made available to over 100 digital services and platforms around the globe.
DistroKid is an independent digital music distribution service, founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Philip J. “Pud” Kaplan.
The platform principally offers musicians and other rights-holders the opportunity to distribute and sell or stream their music through online retailers such as iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and others.
The best thing about Distrokid is that they don’t take a take any of your royalties. In July 2015, a DistroKid release by musical act Jack & Jack went to #1 worldwide in the iTunes charts.
This release was particularly notable because DistroKid didn’t take any commission of their royalties. It was the first time a #1 charting artist was able to keep 100% of their earnings!
How to publish your music on YouTube
You may be thinking that it’s easy to get music on YouTube – just upload it! You would be right, however, there is a way that you can do this through a distributor so that you track your money and stats. This will make sure that you’re getting paid the right amount from your YouTube plays.
You can do this through digital music distributors and publishers (like Tunecore).
Tunecore have partnered with YouTube Music to get your music out to the world quickly and easily.
The steps that you would need to take are as follows:
- Upload Your Music to Tunecore
- Upload your music and artwork
- Enter your release details
- Select the stores where you want to make your music available
- Wait for Tunecore to do the rest
Tunecore will make your music discoverable on YouTube Music as an Art Track. This is a video of your music synced with a still image of your cover art.
Doing this, you get paid 100% of what you’re owed. Every play on YouTube Music earns you money, and 100% of that goes directly into your Tunecore account. No matter where fans are listening, you’ll be paid every penny.
How can I license my own music?
Licensing is slightly different from music publishing, however, it’s an important thing to consider, so we’ll briefly touch on it in this article.
If you want to get your music ‘licensed’ to be used in a TV advert, corporate video, film trailer, or soundtrack, you need to first register your songs with a PRO (such as PRS).
Once that’s done, you need to research music libraries. The focus of music libraries is to make your tracks available for licensing to potential customers. These customers can include ad agencies, YouTubers, videographers, indie filmmakers, or music supervisors on TV shows. You can get paid a lot of money if you can land yourself one of these big TV deals.
Make sure to find the right music library for you. Do you write songs, video game music, children’s music or soundtracks for wedding videos?
Research music libraries such as these to see where your music fits the best. Here are some library examples:
Analyse the music they already have. Is your music is an obvious fit? Is there’s a gap in their catalogue you might be able to fill?
Once you’ve found some appropriate libraries, submit your music, but always follow the submission guidelines on the different websites.
N.B. Your music doesn’t have to be on Spotify or anywhere online for you to submit using this process.
Do I need a publishing company?
As you can probably guess from reading this article, no, you absolutely don’t need a big publishing company. You can do almost everything that a major publishing company can do by yourself.
There are, however, a few benefits of working with a professional publishing company that we’ll cover briefly:
- You can focus on your music – Whilst being a musician and songwriter, it’s easy to get side-tracked if you have to manage your business and take care of the administrative tasks too.
With a publishing deal, you can outsource the work of issuing licenses and collecting royalties, all of which is time-consuming work.
- It’s sometimes more cost-effective to get administrative work done by somebody else.
What are music publishers in the UK? Check out this article here:
Signing with a major publishing company
- Publishers can help out your career in other ways – An established publishing company has the means and connections required to get your music into the hands of top performers or record labels looking for new musical talent.
- They can help your creative process – Some music publishers do the administrative work associated with the songs they’re working with, but they don’t get involved in the creative process or the songwriting.
Other music publishers take a completely different approach and they might have entire departments devoted to helping their songwriters develop creatively.
They may offer feedback on compositions, suggest new directions, and pair up their songwriters with other writers for collaborative partnerships.
This type of guidance and support is great to allow a developing songwriter to maximise their potential.
There are also some drawbacks of signing with a big publishing company. Check out the pros and cons of music publishing.
- Register with a Performer Rights Organisation: Joining these organisations can help you understand more about self-publishing music. The idea of these organisations is to protect you from missing out on any music that is owed to you.
- By registering each of your finished works with an organisation you, as a singer, will receive all money made from your single. This registration is something that should be top of your to-do list, forgetting to do this could lose you a lot of money.
- This is the material you’ll be sending out to fans and industry people, so the quality has to be high. Good quality material is crucial when self-publishing music to increase potential fans interest.
- Spread the Word, Knowing how self-publishing music works help you to spread the word about your music. Competition in the music industry makes it harder to stand out.
- Networking is a good way of spreading the word, about you as a singer or a band. The benefits of networking are priceless, simply due to the power of word of mouth. If you’re talking to the right person, you don’t know who that person could contact on your behalf. It’s important to be friendly, but still professional.
More advice on self-publishing music
- Upload your songs to music distributors. This way you have a fan base of people who are already using that platform and may stumble across your new material.
- Make your songs downloadable. So many people use the internet now, save your fans needing to go out and buy it in a shop.
Have you ever self-published your music? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!