Music Publishing 101

Author: Eric Beall | Course Code: OMBUS-270

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Authored by the former Vice President, Creative at Sony/ATV Music and current A&R executive for Shapiro Bernstein, Music Publishing 101 provides a step-by-step guide to setting up your own publishing company, including administration of copyrights, the role of performance rights organizations, and preparing a functioning accounting system for your catalog. 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 business.

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

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.

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.

Jon Bonci


Jon Bonci has an extensive and varied career that spans music publishing, video production, television, and education. He has been the Creative Director, East Coast for BMG Music Publishing, Creative Manager at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, and is currently handling licensing and creative roles for Shapiro Bernstein & Co., Inc. He has also worked as a producer, videographer, and editor for his own video production company, as well as taking the role of Executive Director for Local TV in Easthampton, NY , overseeing the public, education, and government access channels there. With a Bachelor of Arts in Music from SUNY Oswego and a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Lehman College, Jon has also taught elementary school as both a teaching assistant and substitute teacher.

Alexa Cabellon


Alexa Cabellon is a music publishing professional with a background in global songwriter and publisher royalties, digital music licensing, and copyright administration. Currently, Alexa is the Sr. Manager, Royalties and New Media at the legendary independent music publishing company, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc., where she ensures proper payment of royalties to songwriters and implements new deals with digital licensees. Alexa is the lead singer/songwriter of her Brooklyn-based band, Little Anchor, and holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Business from New York University.


None required

Required Textbook

Making Music Make Money: An Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Music Publisher by Eric Beall, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

Software Requirements

  • Word processing program that can open and save documents in Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, or Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

Hardware Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones 
  • Webcam

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Intel Pentium 4 or higher
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam


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Next Term Starts January 9

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