Whether you want to become a sub-publisher or you want to find a sub-publisher, the key step are registrations, and for that to work, data must be exchanged. Here is what you need.

Before we get into technicalities, lets just state that this text is all about technicalities. Some ideas, issues and solutions we have encountered during the music rights software development are here reformatted as tips to sub_publishers and publishing companies looking for sub-publishers.


This text presumes that registrations have been made at a local society, and we will be dealing with registrations by sub-publishers in other territories. Sub_publishers registering works in territories where they sub-publish is usually the first action they take. Or, at least, it should be in almost all cases. For this to work, they must receive data in the format they can process or directly send to the respective societies.

There are two ways sub-publishers receive the data from their clients, through CWR and through custom spreadsheet formats. The latter are usually either defined by software vendors or by major sub-publishers.

Using Custom Works Registration Format

This has been covered in detail in Exchanging Data among Publishers with CWR .

Data exchange through custom spreadsheet formats

Regardless if in CSV or Excel format, usually it is one table with headers. In some, a work is in a single row, while some are multi-row formats. Compared to data exchange with CWR, using spreadsheet formats has two additional disadvantages.

1. Client Lock-In

The formats are custom, meaning they are not accepted by all other sub-publishers. So, if you want to use more than one, which gives you a chance to compare them and decide on one that works better for you, you probably have to use different formats, which will, in best case, just take more of your precious time.

In this way, sub-publishers achieve a lock-in. This hurts small administrators most, because it is hard for them to switch, while at the same time, their clients are constantly pressured to do so.


Since the sub-publishers must be able to convert them to CWR in order to register the works, they should contain enough data to do it. In order to be able to import any format into our software, if you are willing to work with us a bit (as in helping us to help you, no strings attached), we may choose to convert all your data to CWR (or EBR) for free.

2. Data inconsistency

While this applies only to some of the CSV formats, particularly multi-line ones, in reality this is a big issue for works with complex registrations and a lot of additional data. The most important issue is that sometimes the percentages get added up in a way that is not intuitive to the person who has compiled the CSV file, resulting in either wrong splits or conflicts.

While it is our policy not to mention and of the software vendors’ or publishers’ names, we see this as a a big problem when our client represents the other side in a conflict. Administrator has sent correct data, according to their understanding of sub-publisher’s instructions, sub-publisher has processed the data according to their understanding and the resulting registration is incorrect. This may easily be the biggest source of unintentional conflicts.

This is why we are reluctant to publish a CSV to CWR converter to the general public. There are just so many different interpretations. Therefore a ‘we may choose to’ above. Sometimes, it is just a waste of time. And we know it.

Delivering Data to a Sub-Publisher

There are many criteria for selecting a sub-publisher which are beyond the scope of this text. The one important in this context is to make sure you will be able to deliver data and they will be able to import it. Correctly. One would be surprised how often this is not the case. Well, maybe this is why you are reading this text in the first place? Don’t worry, it is not just you.

Of course we can help. We have been converting data from one format to another for years. This is how we learned most of this stuff. We recently converted an EBR file to a CWR file, and then, when sub-publisher could not import it, we had to convert this to another “dialect” of CWR. No, not different version or revision, just different interpretation of the “standard”. This is one of the two things that happend this week that motivated me to write this.

Can we convert your data into their format? We can answer that, but you have to send us the file. Just use the links below to reach out.

Becoming a Sub-Publisher

If you are a small original publisher and local administrator, you may not be ready to jump into sub-publishing. Your potential clients work with different societies than you do. These societies have different registration forms and procedures. CWR may be the only exception here, but then, if you will rely only on clients that can deliver CWR, good luck!

But, wait, can you import CWR into your system? Do you have a system? You may not need one, it is only few dozens/hundreds/thousands of works? Will just send the CWR you get form clients to the society? Are you sure this will work? Even if you manage to register works, can you process royalty statements and make proper distribution?

All these questions are valid questions. It really depends on so many things, what your answer might be in regard to every potential client. And covering all the cases would be a really long story. So, all you can do to learn more is ask.