What is a Music Publisher?

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If you asked this question 200 years ago, the answer would have been a book publisher specialised in sheet music. While this is one of the least important aspects of music publishing today, many processes have not changed since.

When public performance royalties were introduced, collecting societies started to emerge. Publishers had the right to collect their share, but they also had to make sure that composers and lyricists received theirs.

Correspondence with collecting societies became their obligation. When this was formalised, it became known as registration.

But both authors and publishers wanted to receive royalties from public performances abroad. And this is where it gets interesting. These original publishers already had partners abroad, other publishers who used to sell their sheet music.

These partners, known as sub-publishers, were now also responsible for correspondence with collecting societies in their respective countries.