The phrase “music publishing” gets thrown around a lot, but for artists trying to figure out their craft, it’s often the least-understood industry branch. So what does music publishing encompass and what can a music publisher do for you?

We picked the brains of professional music publishers to get their tips on finding the perfect fit – and striking the best publishing deal for you.

What Does a Music Publisher Do?

Music publishers ensure that songwriters and composers get paid whenever their songs are used commercially. Their job typically involves issuing licenses, registering copyrights, collecting money, taking care of accounting, and – most importantly – getting you your money.

A publisher is especially valuable when you start dealing with foreign performing rights societies (PROs). Many publishers will also act as song pitchers, negotiators, and will handle the paperwork on sync licenses.

A music publisher can either be deeply involved in your career or act as a quasi business manager. Some artists are their own publishers (though this isn’t always the best option for everyone).

Do I Need a Music Publisher?

Maybe you feel like you’re already well-connected. Maybe you’re an accounting wiz who loves reading the fine print. In some cases, it’s possible to manage your own publishing (or hire someone to work with you). There certainly are successful musicians who have made it on their own.

That said, an experienced publisher with solid connections, a creative mind, and a true love of music, can pay off in the long-term. The best music publishers in the industry ensure that you’ll get paid while writing and working with other talented musicians.