Music isn't just played and recorded; it is also published. Once a piece of music has been published it can be tracked for royalties (payments due to songwriters/composers) from sales, radio play or commercial use, such as featuring in a TV advert. The songs and musical compositions are managed by music publishers (in partnership with songwriters and composers), rather than by the artists who record them. Music publishers focus on building a catalogue of songs or musical compositions by discovering new writers, or by acquiring the rights to existing songs/compositions.
A music publisher pays the songwriter/composer a percentage of the earnings resulting from a variety of uses of their songs/compositions, including recordings, public performance, production of printed music and the use of music by other users, including filmmakers and advertisers.
Those working in music publishing may specialise in one of five fields, but may also work across some or all of these areas.
Specific duties may include:
Rights administration, covering the contracting and legal side of publishing:
Production and editorial, involving commissioning and publishing of new music:
Sales and marketing, covering the distribution, sale and hire of music:
Accounts and royalties, dealing with financial aspects of the business:
Music publishers typically work regular office hours, Monday to Friday. The hours can be much longer if attending evening events, particularly for those that actively search for new talent as part of their job. This may require travelling throughout the UK and possibly abroad to assess new musical compositions.
Starting salaries can range from between £12,000 and £22,000 a year. After a few years' experience, music publishers may earn up to £40,000 a year.
Like most jobs in the music industry, many of the positions for music publishers are in London. Getting a foot in the door can be hard initially, but once in the sector, it's easier to move upwards.
The largest major UK music publishers are Warner/Chappell, EMI, Universal and Sony/ATV. There are also hundreds of independents, for instance Chrysalis, peermusic, Mute Song and Notting Hill. There are also specialist publishers for virtually every genre of music.
Jobs are often advertised by word of mouth. The Music Publishers Association (MPA) posts jobs on its website, www.mpaonline.org.uk/careers.
There is no one route into this type of work and no specific qualifications are needed. Practical work experience is often valued more than qualifications by potential employers. Formal musical training may be an advantage when applying to a classical publisher.
Many begin their career at PRS for Music (formally the MCPS-PRS Alliance). Entry level jobs at PRS for Music may involve cross-referencing song registrations and updating databases.
Relevant BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HND's), foundation degrees and degrees are available at colleges and universities. A degree in music industry management may provide the wider industry knowledge required. Available as both a full-time three-year programme and five- to six-year part-time programme, applications are usually considered on an individual basis. Check entry requirements with individual course providers.
The Diploma in creative and media may be relevant for this area of work
Other routes in could include:
Experience in a related area like public relations, event organisation or advertising could also help. Knowledge of accounts and contract law is also valuable.
The Music Publishers Association (MPA) runs four induction courses each year for those new to, or seeking to enter, the music publishing business. Lasting one and a half days, these are designed to provide a general overview of the music publishing industry.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Training is mostly on the job and involves building on knowledge, experience and contacts that have already been acquired.
The MPA/MMF run a management development programme. There are four models, each examining very different aspects of music management.
Members of MPA can also benefit from specialist seminars, covering areas like royalties, contract law, negotiating, copyright and sampling, global music publishing, broadcast blanket licences and strategic planning.
A music publisher may require some of the following:
With experience, a music publisher could move into a managerial role.
It is possible for music publishers with enough contacts and experience to become self-employed.
Overseas employment may also be possible.
British Recorded Music Industry (BPI),
Riverside Building, County Hall,
Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JA
Tel: 020 7803 1300
PRS for Music, Copyright House,
29-33 Berners Street, London W1T 3AB
Tel: 020 7580 5544
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.