How to Start Your Own Music Publishing Company

If you write your own music, it’s a wise idea to start your own music publishing company. Although you can utilize another publisher when licensing your music, you can double your profit by acting as your own publisher. It’s easier than you might think.


  1. 1

    Select a Performer’s Rights Organization (PRO). The three major PRO’s in the US are Broadcast Music International (BMI); American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP); and Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC). These societies collect and distribute royalty payments for public performances of your music. Do a little research on each society’s websites to determine which one is right for you. You can join as a Writer, as a Publisher, or as both. It is wise to enroll as both, as it will double your potential profits from your music. Some have a nominal one-time fee, others do not.

  2. 2

    Once you have selected a PRO, decide on your publisher name. This should be a clever name which reflects your personality or theme of your music. If you have an existing production company or corporation, you can use this name. Most PRO’s require you to choose three names, from which they will register you with the first available name.

  3. 3

    After your publisher name has been cleared, check with your local city, county, or state government for any legal requirements if you intend to do business. Most likely, you will be required to procure a business license. This is also the time to determine which type of business you intend to run (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.). In most cases, a sole proprietorship is sufficient.

  4. 4

    Open a “Doing Business As” account (D.B.A.) with your local bank, using your publisher name issued by your PRO. This will allow you to receive royalty payments generated by your PRO.

  5. 5

    Finally, register ALL songs you write or compose with your PRO. If your songs are broadcast or publicly performed, you can receive royalties. However, if your songs aren’t registered, you will likely not receive any royalties, as the PRO won’t associate the songs and performances to you as a writer or publisher.


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