Music Publishing 101


Authored by Eric Beall


Course Code: OMBUS-270

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Music Publishing 101 provides a step-by-step guide to setting up your own music publishing company, including administration of copyrights, the role of performance rights organizations, and preparing a functioning accounting system for your catalog. With a curriculum authored by Eric Beall—the former Vice President, Creative at Sony/ATV Music and current A&R executive for Shapiro Bernstein—you'll develop your own publicity plan, submit your songs to the instructor for critique, and register your songs with the copyright office. You'll also learn how to market and promote your compositions and writers by developing effective pitch and promotion strategies, and discover how to turn that stack of demos and lyrics in the closet into a real, independent music publishing business.

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By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand the five primary functions of the music publishing business and how to execute them
  • Learn all aspects of music publishing to create your own music publishing company
  • Understand, identify, and execute all of the music publishing income streams
  • Be able to identify, understand, and execute the creative opportunities of music publishing
  • Create a business plan, build a team, and network to create opportunities in the music publishing world
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Lesson 1: The Fundamentals: "What Is Music Publishing, Anyway?"

  • Greet and Meet
  • What is Music Publishing?
  • The Five Functions of a Music Publisher
  • Examples of the Functions
  • A Quick History of Music Publishing
  • Quiz: Who Ya Gonna Call?
  • Assignment: Market Leaders
  • The Writer/Publisher Relationship
  • Assignment: Make a Deal

Lesson 2: The Financial Structure of Music Publishing: "Show Me the Money"

  • Where the Income Stream Begins…
  • Assignment: Income Sources of One Song
  • Where the Income Stream Leads
  • Assignment: Royalties of One Song
  • Where the Income Stream Ends
  • Assignment: Distribute the Money
  • Conclusion: The Big Payback
  • Assignment: Advance

Lesson 3: Understanding the Catalog: "It All Starts with the Song"

  • "Do You Own the Songs?"
  • Negotiation
  • Assignment: Song Split Case Study
  • Do You Still Own the Songs?
  • Sampling
  • Interpolations
  • Translations and Adaptations
  • "Can You Find the Songs?"
  • Assignment: Post Two Song Submittal Forms
  • "Are These Songs Any Good?"
  • Assignment: Assess One Song in Your Catalog
  • Assignment: Billboard Predictions

Lesson 4: The Basics of Business: "Start Me Up"

  • Choosing a Business Structure: "What Am I?"
  • Assignment: Select a Business Structure
  • Choosing the Office: "Where Am I?"
  • Gearing Up: What Do I Need? (Page 2)
  • Designing a Web Site: What Do I Do?
  • Discussion: Choose Your Office
  • Information Is Power: What Do I Know?
  • Discussion: Research the Resources
  • Making a Plan
  • Where Are You Going?
  • One Final Caveat
  • Assignment: Book Quiz

Lesson 5: Setting Up Systems

  • Managing the Music
  • Digital Archiving
  • Common Concerns
  • Distributing the Music
  • Assignment: Develop an Archiving System
  • Managing the Administration
  • Accounting Systems
  • Assignment: Financial Management Case Study
  • Conclusion: The First Line of Defense
  • Assignment: Copyright Dispute
  • One Last Thing...
  • Dan Coleman Interview Part 2

Lesson 6: Building a Team : "You Got to Have Friends"

  • "Get Me My Lawyer!!"
  • Payment Structures
  • Finding a Lawyer
  • Assignment: Find Three Lawyers
  • A Writer's Best Friend
  • PROs Continued
  • A Global Perspective
  • Assignment: Find Your Friends
  • Interns
  • Developing Your Contacts: Music Conventions
  • Awards Shows
  • Songwriter and Music Business Organizations
  • Assignment: Choose Your Smooze Fests
  • Assignment: Let's Count Our Friends
  • Peter Bliss Interview

Lesson 7: The Art of Exploitation: "Getting the Music Right"

  • The Constructive Critic
  • The Song Quality Checklist
  • Constructive Criticism
  • Assignment: Post One Song from Your Catalog
  • "Hits Only, Please"
  • Discussion: Reassess the Song's Hit Potential
  • "Demo Do's and Don'ts"
  • What Works and What Doesn't
  • Redemoing
  • Assignment: Redemo a Song
  • "It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right"
  • Challenges
  • The Wise Weasel's Credo
  • Discussion: Potential Collaborations

Lesson 8: The Art of Exploitation: Getting the Music Out

  • Looking at the Landscape
  • Assignment: Identify Your Market Focus
  • Who's Looking?
  • Who Are These People and How Do I Get to Them?
  • Contacting People in the Industry
  • Assignment: Identify the Personal Contacts in Your Market
  • Here Comes the Pitch…
  • Discussion: Song Pitch
  • Helping Hands
  • Conclusion: "The Soft Sell"

Lesson 9: The Art of Exploitation: Moving the Writer Up

  • Getting the Writers In: The Art of Acquisition
  • A Quick Reminder: What You're Acquiring and Deal Structures
  • Deal Duration and Money
  • Contracts
  • Assignment: Identify Two Songwriters
  • The Hype Machine
  • Four Rules of Star-Making: Rule #1
  • Four Rules of Star-Making: Rule #2
  • Four Rules of Star-Making: Rule #3
  • Assignment: Put Together Your Publicity Strategy
  • Timing Is Everything: Rule #4
  • Assignment: Identify One Publicity Opportunity in the Next Three Months
  • Friends in High Places
  • Discussion: Collaboration
  • A Moment of Inspiration

Lesson 10: Getting the Money In: "You Get What You Give"

  • Confronting Contemporary Pressures
  • Knowing What You Have
  • Duration
  • Territory and Alterations/Adaptations
  • Special Uses and First Use
  • Assignment: Define Publisher's Rights in License
  • "License Please"
  • Mechanical License
  • Synchronization License
  • Special Uses
  • Assignment: Identify Licenses for Various Uses
  • The Bones of Contention: Mechanical Licenses
  • The Bones of Contention: Sync Licenses
  • The Bones of Contention: 360 Deals
  • Assignment: Find the Most Profitable Writer
  • You Get What You Bargain For
  • Use the Tools Available

Lesson 11: Getting the Money In: "Help Is on the Way"

  • The Mechanics of Mechanical Collection
  • Collection Option #1: Going Direct
  • Collection Option #2: Going with the Big Guys
  • Collection Option #3: Going With the Not-So-Big Guys
  • A Quick Diversion on Dealing with Digital
  • Collection Option #4: Going With An Administrator
  • Assignment: Collecting Your Mechanical Income
  • "I Hear Music in the Air"
  • Assignment: Choose a Performing Rights Society
  • "All Around the World"
  • Stick with Who You Know.
  • One size (large) fits all.
  • Go with the locals.
  • Buffet or à la carte?
  • Assignment: Find an Approach for International Earnings
  • Conclusion: Subpublishers

Lesson 12: Protect and Defend: Protecting Your Copyrights

  • Understanding the Threat: "Where Evil Lurks . . . "
  • Protecting the Jewels: "Lines of Defense"
  • Assignment: One Last Pop Quiz
  • The Circle of Friends
  • The Three Secret Weapons of Negotiating: 1. Knowledge
  • The Three Secret Weapons of Negotiating: 2. Patience
  • The Three Secret Weapons of Negotiating: 3. Flexibility
  • The Outer Limits
  • Stop, Look, and Listen
  • Assignment: Negotiation
  • The Dangerous New Frontier
  • The Death of Mechanical Income
  • The Folly of Free
  • The End of the World As We Know It
  • Get On Board
  • Get Your Share
  • Get Into Greener Pastures
  • Assignment: Identifying Potential Danger
  • Registering Your Copyrights: The Claim to Fame
  • What's the Point?
  • Registering Online
  • The Berne Convention
  • Exercise: Register Songs in the Copyright Office


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Eric Beall


Eric Beall is the author of Making Music Make Money (An Insider's Guide To Becoming Your Own Music Publisher) and a respected music industry veteran, having held senior Creative posts at Zomba Music, Jive Records, and Sony/ATV Music. Currently, he handles A&R for Shapiro Bernstein, one of the industry's most venerable and respected independent music publishers. In his role as a music publishing executive, Eric has signed and developed top writers like Stargate, Steve Robson, Billy Mann, Steve Diamond, Richard Julian and many others. At the same time, in his role at Jive Records and Zomba Music, he has coordinated and directed Zomba writers in the development of material for Jive Records superstars like Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears.

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Prior to joining the executive ranks, Eric wrote and produced the pop hits "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" for Joey Lawrence (Top Ten Billboard Hot 100) and "Carry On" for Martha Wash (#1 Billboard Dance Chart), as well as songs for Diana Ross, The Jacksons, Safire, Samantha Fox, Brenda K. Starr, and many others. He also co-founded Class-X Recordings, an independent dance label in New York. Read Less

Jon Bonci


Jon Bonci began his career in the music business by working at a 24-track recording studio in New York City. This led him to a job at Chrysalis Records where A&R legend, Bruce Dickinson recommended him for a position at Chappell Music Publishing. As Chappell Music transitioned into the leading music publisher of the day, Warner/Chappell Music, Jon rose from position of Archivist in sheet music and tape library to that of Creative Manager.

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As Creative Manager at Warner/Chappell, Jon scouted bands and writers in the evenings and worked with songwriters and record labels, to secure cover recordings by day. He’s had songs cut with Milli Vanilli’s multi-platinum debut album, Hot Tuna, several boy bands and secured the first Country cut for Michael Bolton and Jonathan Cain of Journey by legendary Country artist, Conway Twitty.  

While BMG Music Publishing, Jon headed the New York office and continued to sign bands and songwriters to the company. Most notably, Jon signed Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons to a publishing deal.

While working for Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Jon held a position in the Synchronization Licensing department, where he delt with all forms of licensing of their catalog. It was here that he worked alongside Eric Beall, author of the Berklee Online class, Music Publishing 101. Eric introduced Jon to Berklee in 2008 and Jon has been onboard ever since, teaching Music Publishing, Artist Management, Music Licensing, and Music Business 101.

Following his tenure at Shapiro, Bernstein, Jon became the Music Associate Director for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, where he traveled with the game for five seasons. In 2012 and 2013 Jon was nominated for an EMMY for “Outstanding Sports Series.”

Between jobs in the music industry, Jon worked on his Masters in Education, working in several school districts, learning the art of teaching. This has proven helpful during his time at Berklee College of Music.

These days, Jon is a consultant for U.K. music publisher, Blank Canvas Music Publishing. In his role, Jon is working on the company’s annual New Christmas Classics album where the company will both publish and release new original holiday music each year.

Jon belongs to many professional organizations including The National Music Publisher’s Association and The Association of Independent Music Publishers where he is an active member in the New York City chapter. Read Less

Thomas Valentino, Esq.


Entertainment attorney Thomas Valentino is the founder of The Counsel, PLLC, providing legal counsel and strategic advice for songwriters, recording artists, digital properties, media organizations and entertainment executives with an expertise and focus on the sale of music publishing catalogues. He has negotiated global publishing and recording contracts with Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing, BMG, Hipgnosis, Warner/Chappell, Reservoir Media among others.

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Tommy is a regular contributor to the SiriusXM morning show FEEDBACK, offering unique breakdowns of complex and controversial legal cases affecting the music industry. He is a shareholder in the Zach Sang Show, nationally syndicated by Westwood One/Cumulus Media. Valentino is the founder and principal of Zen Bulldog Entertainment, a music publishing and production joint venture with BMG specializing in music for film and television projects.

A respected authority on performing rights issues and passionate advocate for the art of songwriting, Valentino successfully lobbied for copyright legislation improving royalty payments to publishers and songwriters. He is credited as legal advisor for artists such as Kid Rock, Zach Sang, Jose Feliciano and legendary Leon Russell with Elton John.

A graduate of New York University, Valentino attended Hofstra University School of Law and clerked under the Court of Appeals for admission to the New York State Bar. Read Less


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