We recently ran a piece on the basics of music publishing and some of the things you may want to consider when shopping for a publishing company. And, because we at Think Like a Label want you to have as much information as possible when making decisions about your music career, we wanted to be sure to let you know that you can also publish your music on your own.
Songwriter or Publisher?
When you’re registering with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, you can register as a musician or as a publisher. When you register as a publisher, you’re essentially setting up your own publishing company. As a songwriter, you must choose just one Performing Rights Organization (PRO) to align yourself with. As a publisher, you may be affiliated with one, two, or as many as you wish. If you choose to register with more than one, you will have to adhere to the guidelines of each organization and pay each of their fees, but some people feel that each organization offers strengths in different areas.
Publishing Company or Independent Publishing?
It is worth mentioning, however, that there is much work that goes into working as your own publisher. When deciding if it would best suit you to act as your own publisher, take a few things into account. The onus to shop for artists to perform your songs falls solely on your shoulders. Think about the types of artists who would be most likely to successfully perform your songs. Can you access them? While the Internet certainly makes us all accessible most of the time, think about your location and how you like to work. If you’re a country songwriter located in Helsinki, Finland and you’d rather not use a computer most of the time because you feel it compromises your purity as an artist, you probably aren’t going to reach your target demographic or happen upon anyone who will. This may seem like a ridiculous example but I’m sure we’ve all encountered odd situations like this. There’s nothing wrong with that, but these types of things all need to be considered when making your decision.
Think about your situation and any demands you may have outside of music (family, any other jobs, religion, other interests, etc.); do you realistically have time to devote to pitching your songs to labels, artists, agents, TV and film producers and anyone else who may come along? Would you feel comfortable doing so? Would you be able to handle rejection if your tracks weren’t well received? These are all things that need to be seriously considered.
Our Friend, Networking
Additionally, think about how willing you are to network and meet new people. Many people love social situations and welcome any opportunity to expand their contact list, while for others it can serve as a large source of anxiety. If you’re outgoing and eager to attend industry events, self publishing may be a great option for you. For those on the more introverted side, who would rather let their manager do the talking and hide in the shadows most of the time, your career may benefit more from an outside publisher.
Are you organized? Tenacious? Persistent? All of these things are necessary in successful publishing.
Cost of Self-Publishing
Keeping in mind that you will, in all likelihood, get to write off many of the expenses you incur when you file your taxes (this will vary depending on what country you live in), try to determine if this will be an inconvenience for you in the interim. Will paying for international long distance calls to contact people across the globe hurt your budget? Can you afford to pay for things such as postage and letterhead?