Understanding the Differences: Co-Publishing Deals vs. Publishing Administration Deals

By Alyssa Minnec

In the music industry, publishing income is one of the most important revenue streams for producers, musicians, and songwriters. Among the various types of publishing arrangements, the two most common are co-publishing agreements and administration agreements, and understanding the differences between these sorts of deals is essential for artists and musicians to maximize their earning potential.

Breaking the deals down to their most simple differences, the main differences between the two are 1) how long the publishing company collects a percentage of the revenue from your catalog, and 2) what services and/or how much money you’re receiving from the company in return.

Co-Publishing Deals:

Both co-publishing and administration agreements are for a specified number of years, and the publisher will handle registering your music, as well as licensing and royalty collection, in exchange for a percentage of any money generated from those songs. In an administration deal, the publisher collects its percentage only during the term of the deal. However, in a co-publishing deal, the company will collect its percentage from any songs created during the term, for a long time after the deal ends (perhaps forever).

Nevertheless, there are some pros and cons to entering into one of these arrangements.

Key Points to Understand Regarding Co-Publishing Deals:

· Access to Resources: Working with a publishing company grants producers access to a wide network of industry contacts, including artists, labels, and licensing agencies, facilitating more opportunities for collaborations and placements than the producer could procure on their own.

· Advance: Most of the time, co-publishing deals will provide producers with a large upfront recoupable advance for each term of the deal, offering financial stability to pursue their creative endeavors. The publishing company is putting up a large amount of money, so they’re going to do more for the producer and the producer’s catalog as opposed to just registering your work and collecting on your behalf.

· Long-Term Commitment: The term of a typical co-publishing agreement often spans three years. An “option period” gives the publishing company the option to automatically extend the original term for the same amount of years. Most co-publishing deals have 1–2 option periods. Even though the original term may only be three years, the option period is what can bind the producer to the terms and conditions for an extended time.

· Long-Term Revenue Split: As mentioned above, producers must give a percentage of their publishing rights to the publishing company for much longer after the term (perhaps forever).

Overall, in a co-publishing deal, you’re giving up a lot, but in exchange, the publishing company is (hopefully) giving you a large advance and connecting you with their vast network, which can create countless opportunities you wouldn’t have had without the relationship. The publishing company wants to recoup its investment (the advance), and fully investing in you and your work to bring these opportunities to life will do exactly that.

So, which publishing company do you decide to go with? Ask yourself: What type of network does this company have? Who do they most commonly work with, and do those people/companies fit well with my catalog and overall project? A large, flashy advance may be intriguing, but make sure that the expertise, connection, and network is there. If a company is offering you a large advance, but they don’t know what they’re doing, you want to at least suss that out before signing.

Administration Deals:

Administration deals are a great option for artists or producers seeking professional support in managing their copyrights and ensuring they receive the royalties they’re owed. Compared to co-publishing deals, the biggest difference is how long the publishing company collects on your catalog. Under this arrangement, the administrator assists with registering your music and collecting royalties, in exchange for a percentage of any revenue generated during the term of the deal (or only shortly thereafter).

Key Points to Understand Regarding Administration Deals:

· Flexibility: Administration deals often offer more flexibility in terms of contract duration and termination, allowing producers to maintain autonomy over their career trajectory and creative direction.

· Short-Term Commitment: An administration deal is short-term, generally consisting of about 2–3 years of registering your catalog and collecting its earnings on your behalf.

· No or Low Advance: Because the publisher is retaining a percentage of your revenue for a much shorter time than with a co-publishing deal, administration agreements typically come with no or a much lower advance.

· Don’t Expect Access to Resources: Similar to the last point, because publishing administrators are making less of an upfront investment, you shouldn’t expect that the company will put in the same effort to find opportunities and promote your career overall.

Deciding between the Co-Publishing and Administration Deal:

For producers, musicians, and songwriters navigating the complexities of the music industry, the choice between a co-publishing and administration deal is important to shaping their careers and financial outcomes. While co-publishing deals offer upfront financial support and industry expertise, you can expect that you’ll be giving up a portion of the rights to your catalog forever. Administration deals allow for ownership retention and flexibility, but they leave more responsibility for the artist or producer.

Generally, it comes down to asking yourself what you currently need in your career and what your goals are for your music. What type of publishing relationship would most benefit where you’re at right now? Do you simply just need help registering your placements and making sure you’re getting paid? Or, are you looking to maximize your project and open up some new doors?

When deciding between a co-publishing and administration deal, you have to consider your individual priorities, aspirations, and level of comfort with relinquishing control over your creative works. By understanding the differences between co-publishing and administration deals, you can make informed decisions that align with your artistic vision and career objectives, paving the way for a successful and sustainable career in the music industry.

If you would like to discuss what sort of deal is right for you, or if you have any questions about a music publishing deal you were sent, please contact us at the Law Office of Adam C. Freedman, PLLC to set up a free consultation!