Music Publishing Software - Registrations

For authors of commercial musical works, the largest sources of income are collecting societies. To a lesser degree, it is also important for 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. However, it is important to note one thing. Publishing software that does not do CWR registrations well does not beat Excel!

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, one can register works in their respective collecting organizations through the web and keep track of everything in a spreadsheet. Even in the USA, where one must send their data to multiple organizations, from PROs, MROs, and various online services to administrators and/or sub-publishers, they all accept some kind of spreadsheet format, though each has a different one. Converting from one into another manually is a process prone to errors.

On the other hand, most of these organizations accept Common Works Registration (CWR) format, which can not simply be created from a spreadsheet, although there is our EBR to CWR Conversion service, at the moment one of the kind. SA software that validates the data, making sure it is complete and basically correct, can export CWR and process acknowledgement files saves time, both to the writer/self-publishers and all the receivers of the metadata.

We have released an open source (free) software that does exactly this, although the actual CWR generation still requires a subscription. Very soon, there will be several services using our CWR Developer Toolset that cover both CWR registrations for original publishers and statement processing.

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 why original publishers historically used administrators in their home territories are gone by now, and the lack of appropriate software was the last major technical obstacle to ditching them completely. Without legal and technical reasons why administrators would be needed, the only reasons may be because original publishers do not want, do not know how or it is cheaper to pay the administrator than to do everythign themselves.

Original publishers and/or administrators, except self-publishers, usually take a part of their revenue and pay the other part to their clients - publishers or writers. This is a time-consuming process if it has to be done manually. The right software can streamline it, make it less prone to human errors, much faster and far more transparent. Again, the aforementioned services will be covering this territory as well.

Direct Affiliation in Foreign Societies

While for other activities, 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. While some societies are more problematic than others, the bigger in generall is the better. But different societies have different rules when it comes to registrations. Registering in ASCAP and BMI (effectively MusicMark) have very different rules when it comes to CWR then PRS and GEMA (effectively ICE services). This complicates matters a lot, so sub-publishing is hard work with a steep learning curve until the first results.

But there are outsourcing services that can do it for you. We do have such a service, based on our own technology. And we may be able to consult you about the technical aspects of such an endeavour. Please use our contact page if you are interested in such a service.

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.

These solutions remove a lot of technical obstacles and empower writers and publishers to do far more work themselves, instead of delegating it all to majors. This trend will continue, and if we manage to keep our schedule, by the end of the year, original publishers and administrators will have powerful and unified tools, with sub-publishing tools following next year. And we do provide services to third parties, also potential competitors, white label solutions, etc., so there will be several of them competing with different approaches and, surely, there will be some that have nothing to do with our tools.

Publishers will, finally, have good and affordable software options.