I hope you will be able to understand the difference between distribution and publishing by the end of this article but it would definitely help if you are familiar with the organisations and terms that I use. Luckily for you, I have written some articles that can get you up to speed with the things I’m going to be talking about.
What You Should Read Before Diving In.
What Is Music Publishing?
According to tunecore.com publishing is “the business of collecting royalties for Compositions (songs written)”. So what are the types of royalties you can collect from compositions? Publishers are entitled to mechanical, performance and needletime royalties. So if you intend on making money from your music it will need to be ‘published.’ Every territory or country has an organisation that collects royalties.
In South Africa:
- SAMRO collects performance royalties
- SAMPRA collects needletime royalties
- CAPASSO collects mechanical royalties
To make this a bit easier to understand, let’s pretend that I am a rapper. I produce, write and record a song at my home studio. This makes me the only owner of the copyright to the song and I don’t have to worry about splitting my royalties.
Now I want to be able to make money from my music. I need to register with collective management organisations so that they can collect royalties on my behalf. So I register with SAMRO so I can receive performance rights for my music. I then register with SAMPRA so I can receive needletime royalties. Finally, I register with CAPASSO so I can receive mechanical royalties. SINCE I DID ALL OF THIS MYSELF I AM MY OWN PUBLISHER. That’s all publishing is. The process you have to go through in order for you to be able to monetise your music. Record labels are the organisations that play the role of a publisher and handle all of this for you.
So you might ask yourself why would I sign with a publisher if I can do all of this myself? Publishers have the relationships and resources to get your music into places like TV, radio, Netflix, adverts etc. They have the power to get your music onto a lot more places and thus increases the amount of royalties your music can generate.
What Is Distribution?
Back in the day, you could only buy physical CD’s. So if you wanted people to buy your music they would have to buy it at a store like Musica. So your record label would pay for a DISTRIBUTOR to make CD’s and physically DISTRIBUTE your CD’s to stores like Musica but it’s 2021 and Musica is no longer in business. Now we don’t even have to buy the music. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have made it possible for us to listen to music over the internet which is commonly referred to as streaming. Streaming platforms have replaced physical stores like Musica. So how do you get your music on streaming platforms? You go through a distributor like Distrokid and they get your music on streaming services. If you want more information on the different types of distributors you can click here to read my article.