Publishing Deals – the Dos and Don’ts

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013

This month we spoke to Jeremy Fabinyi, the General Manager of the Australasian Music Publishers’ Association (AMPAL) about what you should consider in terms of publishing deals and what you need to know about publishers. Jeremy has been with AMPAL since returning to Australia in 2012 after ten years overseas – he had three years with the international authors’ trade associations, BIEM and CISAC in Paris, before becoming Managing Director of the UK’s mechanical right society, MCPS. He went on to hold a number of roles within the MCPS/PRS organisation including a stint as acting CEO of PRS for Music.jeremy.jpg

What should I expect from a publishing deal? What will publishing companies do for my music and my career? 

Publishers assist writers by providing financial assistance, professional and creative advice, commercial exploitation and making sure that the money flows.

What should an songwriter consider before approaching a publisher? What are the basics that every songwriter should have before they approach a publisher? What are the best ways to attract interest from potential publishers?

Music publishing is a competitive business. Writers compete to get the attention of publishers and publishers compete to sign the writers with the greatest potential. There are some publishers who just need to hear the music to be inspired to sign a writer, but it is a good idea to have a clear idea of the market for the music before approaching a publisher. Of course it helps if the writer has already created music that has found an audience.  Different publishers specialise in different genres of music and some research is required to find the right publisher to pitch music to.

Who should be looking for publishing deals and at what stage does a publishing deal become a priority? I’ve been in the industry for a while and have a good set of contacts and networks. Do I need a publishing deal?

Music publishing isn’t rocket science but it does come with its own jargon and business practices. Writers who are prepared to spend the time to get an understanding of the industry and the royalty and rights flow should be able to manage their own affairs. However once the pressure comes on – for example through significant international success – it becomes much harder for writers to deal with the complexities of the industry on their own.

Is it more important for writers/musicians to have a record deal before a publishing deal? Can a publisher help me secure a record deal if I don’t already have one?

Music publishers in Australia have a long tradition of helping writers get their first record deal. However in the current environment, many people are looking to work without the help of a record company through self releasing their material. In these circumstances, it can be very useful for writers/artists to have music industry-savvy advisers such as music publishers on their team, to help them get what is due to them.

Should I expect an advance with my publishing deal or are they not a guarantee?

Advances aren’t what they used to be – the industry has tightened up considerably in the last few years. However there is nothing wrong with seeking a healthy financial commitment from a publisher – though often the more money upfront, the less attractive the royalty rates and other terms and conditions of the deal.

I want to have creative control on where and whom my music is licensed to. Does a publishing deal reduce my say on this? ­­­

Publishers are commercial animals and will want to encourage writers to exploit their songs widely, but a good publisher will always recognise the desire for creative control and will work with their writers to support their moral rights.

Who should I be speaking to before I sign a deal? 

A publishing contract is an important legal document. Advice from a lawyer who is familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the music industry is essential.

To find out more information about AMPAL and music publishers head to

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