music publishing unlocked: mechanical royalties

Making money from music publishing as an independent artist

“Music publishing is the owning and exploiting of songs in the form of musical copyrights.” – Randall Wixen, The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing

If you’ve written a piece of original music, you own the copyright to that composition — and you get to decide how that copyright is exploited.

In most aspects of life, “exploitation” is a bad thing. But in the music industry, exploiting a musical copyright is very, very good!What is Music Publishing?

“Exploiting a musical copyright” means that the owner of a particular composition (the music and the lyrics) is putting that song to use in a way that generates money in the form of:

mechanical royalties

performance royalties

• licenses for synchronization

• licenses for sampling

• print rights for sheet music


Fun Fact: Speaking of sheet music, that’s exactly how this whole business first came to be called “music publishing” — because back before the advent of recording and radio, publishing sheet music was one of the only ways to earn money from a musical copyright.

So to reiterate, music publishing is all about earning money from the usage of the song itself, as a separate piece of intellectual property from any specific sound recording of that musical composition.

CD Baby helps you collect all the music publishing royalties you’re owed

If you’ve contributed to the writing of original music, you’re owed publishing royalties whenever your songs are sold, downloaded, streamed on sites like Spotify or Apple Music, played on the radio (including satellite and internet radio like Pandora), used in TV/film/commercials/games, or performed live in a venue.

Sign-up for CD Baby Pro Publishing to get your money for:

  • All mechanical royalties from Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming sites. These are generated from every single stream.
  • All iTunes international mechanical royalties. These are generated from every single sale.
  • Global YouTube publishing royalties.
  • Hundreds of other sources of songwriting and publishing royalties from around the world.

With CD Baby Pro — available in countries and territories all over the world — you’ll be set up to collect all the royalties you’re owed.


To learn more about how you can make money from music publishing, check out:

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[Staff & money image from Shutterstock.]