Music Process

Music publishing is the process of developing, protecting and valuing music. The business of music publishing is diverse and demands a variety of skills. Music publishers play an important role in the development of new music and in taking care of the business side, thus allowing the creators of music to concentrate on their work.

Music publishing process begins when the composer or arranger submits a manuscript to a publisher. The writer may enter into a contract with the publisher to submit a certain number of works each year or for a determined period of time. The publisher may also receive unsolicited work.

The Editorial Department receives manuscripts, especially unsolicited ones. They are responsible for screening all incoming manuscripts. All manuscripts are registered and evaluated by editors for its musical quality and practical feasibility. Works which meet these requirements are then passed to a Publications Committee for further review and evaluation. The works that are not accepted for publication are returned to the composer.

The legal rights of both the composer and the publisher must be secured before reproducing and distributing the music. The publisher’s Legal Department performs this important task, and before a contract is drawn up, the work is reviewed in case permissions or licenses need to be obtained; for example, clearance of a text which is copyrighted. A contract is then drawn up between the composer or arranger and publisher for the work which has been accepted.

After a thorough examination, the editor contacts the composer and discusses the composition in detail. If the composer’s hand is neat and legible, and depending on the nature of the work, consideration may be given to producing the work in a facsimile edition. In other cases, the manuscript will be prepared for engraving process. This process offers many possibilities, from the autographer’s hand copying, to the music typewriter and various other computer-assisted methods. After engraving, a copy of the final proof is forwarded to the composer (or arranger) for final checking before publication.

The engraved work is then prepared for printing. Each page is laid out by the production department and titles, page numbers, copyright notice and all other necessary elements are added. After this, the cover is prepared.

Upon the nature of the work, certain works will not be made available for sale, but will be placed in a rental library and “rented” for specific periods for a set fee. Works that are substantially larger than usual forces are made available on rental because it would not be economically feasible to supply scores and parts for sale, as the retail price would be prohibitive.

The new work is then registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and other similar organizations around the world. The works are also listed with the appropriate performance rights organization – Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), American Society for Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC) for future collection of performance fees.

Once the newly published work appears in print, promotional and sales activities are set into motion. Copies are usually mailed out to dealers across the country, especially to those who subscribe to a new publication program. The publishers issue press releases, and copies are sent to magazines for review. Prominent members of the music community also receive copies. The work is added to various catalogs, advertised in music magazines, and, if appropriate, may be the subject of a separate promotional mailing piece. Where appropriate, the work will also receive additional exposure at workshops and conventions. In some cases the work will be recorded and used for various promotional purposes.

Music publishing is always a partnership between the publisher and the songwriter. The publisher acquires the copyrights, grants licenses, and collects the money, while the songwriter creates the songs. A publisher is a middleman, delivering the songs from the writer to the larger media businesses that sell or use music. A good publisher seeks out great music, great composers and songwriters. S/he supports them in the creative process, and promotes their catalogues across a variety of platforms. By managing the business exploitation of the catalogues, a good publisher works to protect and enhance the value of their works with passion and professional commitment.


Inside Music Process