Music Publishing Software - Registrations

For authors of commercial musical works, the largest sources of income are collecting societies. To a lesser degree, this is also important in production music. A work should be registered anywhere where royalties or fees of all parties, starting from writers, through original publishers and administrators to sub-publishers, are larger than their marginal costs of registrations.

Simply, each of them has to be making money. Each of them can try to increase their profit in several ways:

  • reduce the number of links:
    • writers can be their own original publishers
    • original publishers can ditch administrators
    • administrators can replace original publishers or do sub-publishing themselves
    • sub-publishers and original publishers connect directly
  • reduce their own processing costs by:
    • optimizing the registration process
    • pushing costs to other links

In all of these, except the last sub-point, having an appropriate musical works registration software is crucial.

The problem with the last subpoint is that pushing the costs to others in the chain will reduce the number of registration worldwide and therefore reduce the income. This will be explained in more detail in one of the next articles. In this article, the focus in on explaining when and why music publishing software should be used.

Self-Publishing

Being one’s own original publisher is relatively simple. There are several reasons why a writer should do it:

  • Ownership – one owns 100% of the musical work
  • Control – when one is self-publishing, one has total long-term control
  • Income – you keep most of the money from all sources

One does not need any software for this, works can be registered in their respective collecting organizations through the web. Keeping track can be done in a spreadsheet. However, this is a process prone to errors.

On the other hand, most of these organizations accept Common Works Registration (CWR) format. It can not be simply created from a spreadsheet, although there is our EBR to CWR Conversion service, at the moment one of the kind. It requires software that validates the data, exports CWR and process acknowledgement files.

I released a free open source software Django Music Publisher, also available as a commercial service DMP Guru with a free 30 days demo period. Unlike all other available solutions that feature CWR registrations, this one is specifically created for original publishers. It does cut some corners, so it is not for everyone, but if you like to keep things simple, it is probably the best tool out there.

Ditching Administrators

Original publishers, both self-publishers and those publishing music by multiple writers, quite often delegated some of the publisher’s tasks to administrators. Administrators would then do registrations and licencing, both in the home territory and abroad. The latter case, called sub-publishing, will be explained in the next section.

Most of the reasons for this are gone by now, and the lack of appropriate software was the last major technical obstacle to ditching administrators completely. Without legal and technical reasons why administrators would be needed, original publishers may still choose to pay for the convenience.

Direct Affiliation in Foreign Societies

While the actual presence in a foreign country may be important, this is not the case when it comes to registrations and collection of royalties in foreign societies. Different societies have different rules when it comes to registrations. Registrations in ASCAP and BMI (effectively MusicMark) have very different rules then PRS or GEMA (effectively ICE Services).

We may be able to consult you about the technical aspects of such an endeavour and provide technical tools for it. Please use our contact page.

Conclusion

Today we have solutions that were not available only a year ago. And we are not the only ones, although I will not be naming competitors here.

In the last year, my tools and services were used not only by music publishers but also by companies providing them with various services, including software solutions. Most of original publishers are covered by Django Music Publisher, which anyone can use and modify free of charge, and my free tools.

Aforementioned DMP Guru is just one of several services that provide complete CWR capabilities. I worked for some of them and hope to help few more to make their CWR registration process as failproof as possible.