All About Publishing Admins and Why You Should Consider Getting One

As a musician, your copyrights are more than just your property – they are your livelihood.  With the rise of technology, getting your music plugged into various revenue streams has never been easier. However, managing the money earned from these copyrights still requires an able hand, aka a publishing admin.

What is Publishing Admin?

A publisher owns composition copyrights.

A publishing admin is hired by publishers (or indie artists individually) to manage the copyrights and accounts that royalties accumulate.

In other words, while PRO organisations like BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC will handle your public performance collection, publishing admin companies collect royalties when your songs are streamed, downloaded, or physically bought (CDs/vinyl records/tapes) – aka, mechanical royalties.

Mechanical royalties are notoriously difficult to collect as an independent artist, so unless you’re affiliated with various Mechanical Rights Societies, they often go unclaimed. You deserve to get paid for all your hard work, and having somebody who keeps track of that for you can make all the difference come rent day.

It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that publishing administrators won’t distribute your music to the public or offer creative services – they focus on making the business side of your music as tight, effective, and productive as possible.

“For artists who don’t sign publishing deals, or who retain a co-publishing share of their royalties, it’s typical to work with a publishing admin company.” 

I am registered with a PRO. Do I still need a Publishing Administrator?

Although they share the mutual goal of making sure songwriters get paid, PROs do not collect all types of royalties (i.e. mechanicals).

Performing rights organisations license your compositions to users that publicly perform them (like TV networks, radio stations, websites, retail chains, and live venues). They don’t collect revenue from mechanical royalties or sync placements, and they don’t register your works with foreign societies. 

“A music publishing administrator manages the rights of a songwriter in the marketplace by registering and licensing songs with the proper entities – such as Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) and Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) – to make sure any royalties your songs generate are collected.”

In short, publishing administrators and PROs are different entities. You cannot rely on just one to do both jobs.

How can I get a publisher for my songs?

Let’s say you are not signed to a publishing company.

We know that ASCAP pays 50% of the money directly to the writer and 50% to the publisher, so if you don’t have a publisher listed, you’re missing out on 50% of your performance royalties. 

Instead of creating a publishing company to get the other 50%, you can go straight to an admin company – it’s their job to collect 100% of your royalties.

The process is as easy as applying online.  Some of the top admin publishing companies in the industry for independent artists include:

  • CD Baby Pro

    Pro: you don’t have to use CD Baby as your sync licensing company if you want to pitch your music to music supervisors directly or work with an outside sync agent.

    Con: they will NOT collect any of your songwriting royalties for songs you don’t distribute with CD Baby distribution. 

  • TuneCore Publishing

    Pro: If also used for distribution, can audit your numbers; if used for distribution, simplified interface and payments

    Con: they are exclusive to sync, meaning you are not allowed to sync your music directly with music supervisors, and you can’t work with an outside sync agent

  • Songtrust

    Pro: the largest admin publishing company in the world, with over 350,000 songwriters and 3 million songs in their catalogue, and has a Setlist submission tool – streamlined live performance royalties collection
    Con: $100 signup fee

  • Sentric Music Publishing

    Pro: based in the UK, no signup fee, and you can currently make about 4.2% of the box office receipts on songs performed at a venue in the UK.

    Con: Higher commission (20% vs 15% with the others, 50% on sync), Works with some sub-publishers (double commission), does not collect from all societies worldwide

Which one works best for you depends on how much you are willing to pay and what direction you want to focus your music on.  

publishing admin

Remember that admin publishing companies were created to help the indie songwriter collect all their publishing royalties from all over the world.  If you are set on releasing your music to as many outlets as possible, and the question prevails: “should a publishing admin handle my royalties?” the simple answer is: “yes.”

It’s the best opportunity to maximise your songwriter royalty collection, and it frees you from the stress of having to do it yourself.