wikiHow to Publish Your Music

Two Methods:Using a PublisherSelf-Publishing

Publishing your music means putting it out there so other people can listen to it. As with any kind of media, you can find a publisher to do it for you, or you can do it yourself (self-publish), which is generally considered to be a bit trickier. This article will outline how to do both.

Method 1
Using a Publisher

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    Define your genre and stick to it. Since publishers look for new material based on genre, it's better for you to focus your songwriting in a single genre; you can also cross over to other genres later.[1]
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    Create a demo.
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    Submit your music to publishers directly. Search the databases of,,, in the U.S.A. or the performing rights organization in your country. Look for song titles and writers in your genre, find out who publishes them, and research how you can submit your songs. Another way to find publishers is to pick up Billboard Magazine, look up songs on the Hot 100, R&B or Country charts in your genre, and see the accompanying list of publishers.[2] Call the publisher to confirm who you should send your music to, and in what format.
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    Network within the music industry. This is so important that if you don't live in or near a city where people can make a living writing songs (a 'music centre') then you should seriously consider moving.[1]
    • Attend industry functions
    • Hang out wherever the 'movers and shakers' in your industry and genre hang out
    • Go to songwriter nights
    • Join relevant associations
      • In Canada: SOCAN (The Society of composers, authors and music publishers in Canada)
      • In the US: BMI or ASCAP
    • Be assertive yet polite when meeting key people in the industry; remember that they are probably bombarded by pushy starving artists every day.[1]
    • Co-write songs with both published and unpublished artists (you never know when someone you've worked with will introduce you to their publisher, now or later)
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    When you're offered a publishing contract, get a lawyer. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to sign with a particular publisher:[3]
    • How quickly can the publisher pay?
    • Does the publisher have an international network to collect money abroad via sub-publishing agreements or via membership of overseas collection societies?
    • How is publishing income split with songwriting partners or other members of the band? Straighten this out from the start so you don't battle it out later in court.
    • If the person who signed you leaves the company, are there others who are as enthusiastic about your music as they were who can pick up where they left off?
    • Does the publisher specialize in your genre?
    • Can the publisher pay an advance?
    • Do you prefer a large or small publisher?

[Note: Music publisher's generally make their income only when the writers have made theirs. Therefore it is mostly music publishers that belong to major record labels that pay advance to staff writers unless you are a songwriter with major credits to have the power to negotiate for receiving an advance. Advances are therefore recoupable upon the income generated by the song/s published. Most independent music publishers would market your song for free until the song generates income for both the writer/s and publisher. Songwriter's should not expect music publishers to pay them just for taking their songs on board. Songwriters are paid when the song generates income or advance is paid when there are good indications that the song will generate income.]

Method 2

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    Record your songs onto CDs and sell them at shows, through your website, or and/or through a third-party website.
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    Optional: Make your songs available for downloading (at whatever cost you deem appropriate). You can do this through your own website or through a third-party website. A simple personal site doesn't present many difficulties, however, if you would like to create something more refined, like establish an online store - that would demand more knowledge and efforts. At some of the platforms you can sell not only sheet music but also the rights for its performance.[4]
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    Register with a performance rights organization (PRO). This is essential so if airplay and other public uses of your music occur, you can get paid.
    • Pick a name for your publishing company. This is what checks will be made out to.
    • Register with BMI or ASCAP (in the US) as a publisher. Register as a musician as well for whichever organization you choose. ASCAP has a $50 non-refundable fee for applying as a musician or a publisher.[5] BMI will charge a $150 non-refundable processing fee to register as a publisher (or $250 if you are incorporated).[6] ASCAP has a more flexible agreement.[7]
    • Once the name is approved, file a DBA (Doing Business As) application at a bank. This is done so you can cash checks made out to your publishing company.
    • Register each of your songs.


  • If you're self-publishing, consider using an online music distributor so that you are able to sell your songs on music stores where your fans usually buy their music.
  • Find out which PROs and/or Copyright Collectives that are active in your country, you can find a good list on wikipedia

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing