These definitions are a sidebar from the article Music Publishers Eye Ancillary Income.
In the world of music publishing, three primary types of agreements exist: full publishing, co-publishing, and administration. For years, these agreements and royalty participation schemes governed publishing deals.
In a full publishing agreement, the writer assigns 100% of their ownership in the composition to the publisher in exchange for a percentage of the income received from the exploitation of the composition (usually roughly 50% of the net income is paid to the writer after recoupment of various advances and costs and this 50% typically called the “songwriter’s share” of royalty income).
In a co-publishing agreement, the songwriter not only retains a portion of their ownership interest in the copyright (i.e. the songwriter “co-publishes” with the publisher), but also retains the songwriter’s share mentioned above. Thus, if the songwriter executed a 50% co-pub deal, the songwriter would roughly take home 75% of the net income (the songwriter’s 50% share mentioned above plus one-half of the co-pub portion (in this instance, an additional 25%).
In an administration publishing agreement, the songwriter usually retains 100% of their copyright in the compositions; however, the songwriter will give up a percentage of income to the publishing or admin company in order to compensate it for licensing, collecting, accounting for, and distributing royalties. These compensation in percentages can range from 50% down to 5% but typically, the percentages land in the range of 7.5% to 15%.
As a side note, a writer can also sign a “work for hire” agreement where the publisher is in effect the author and complete owner of the composition(s) written by the songwriter from the inception of creation. In these deals, the songwriter usually receives a negotiated one time fee and does not receive a royalty unless it is specifically negotiated.
Derek Crownover is Leader of the Entertainment and Media Law Group for Dickson Wright, PLLC. He is experienced working on funding deals, estate planning, asset allocation, copyright infringement litigation and other issues for artists, publishers and record labels. Selected by Best Lawyers each year since 2011.