In the music industry, publishing refers to the ownership, control and commercial exploitation of musical compositions. It further refers to the collection of all royalties ensuing from the usage of musical compositions.  Music publishing is the business of songwriters, composers and publishers.


A PRO is a Performing Rights Organization, whose business for songwriters, composers and publishers includes collecting their performance royalties. By law, PROs must send 50 percent of the total performance royalties to songwriters’/composers’ designated home addresses. The other 50 percent is the “publisher’s share,” and different PROs treat the shares in different ways. BMI operates with the 200% model, while ASCAP operates with the 100% model.

Musical Composition

The musical composition is the musical notes, harmonies, melodies, rhythms and instrumentation that you would see on sheet music. In many legal contracts, you will see language that refers to the musical composition as the musical work “embedded” in the sound recording.  When we talk about “musical compositions,” “underlying compositions,” and “musical works,” we are distinguishing these from the sound recording (a.k.a. “master” recording) that you hear with your ears. There is money to be made in the exploitation of musical compositions themselves (as opposed to sound recordings).

Sound Exchange

Sound Exchange is a collection society that collects digital performance royalties for master recording owners (i.e. record labels and performing artists, as opposed to publishers and songwriters). These royalties are called “neighboring rights” royalties in nations outside of the U.S. This has nothing to do with the business of music publishing. Immensum Music does collect from SoundExchange as well for our affiliated record label and artist clients. In order to collect royalties from Sound Exchange and other societies collecting neighboring rights royalties, apply to sign up for our Neighboring Rights Administration service.

Neighboring Rights?

Simply put, neighboring rights are public performance royalties due to the sound recording copyright holder. Remember, every song has two basic types of copyrights attached to it… one for the composition of the song, and one for the recording of the song. The composition copyright pays the songwriter and publisher, while the sound recording copyright pays the artist that recorded the song and record label.

Who is a publisher?

A music publisher is the entity responsible for making sure songwriters and composers receive the royalties resulting from all usages of their songs. Not all songwriters have publishers. In fact, most independent songwriters are self-published.

Isn’t my record label my publisher?

Think of it like this: The record label is to master recordings what the publisher is to musical compositions.  However, note that it is not uncommon for some record labels, especially the majors, to launch publishing divisions in order to exercise more control over the music they release by exploiting the compositions for licensing opportunities, assuming ownership of the compositions for registering songs and collecting all publishing-related royalties, etc. (Think Warner Chappel Music; the publishing division of Warner Music Group, or Universal Music Publishing Group; the division of Universal Music Group.)

How do you collect these songwriter royalties?

In order to collect songwriter royalties on your own, you’ll have to join a PRO. The PRO will claim to collect your performance royalties worldwide. But in reality, they have reciprocal agreements with each and every society in the major territories, and each society will take a percentage of commission before allocating it to your home society, after which your home society will also take a percentage commission before going to you. With Immensum Music's Publishing Administration service, we have agreements with our partner societies in each major territory of the world (more than 60), thus avoiding the extra percentage cuts in your royalties.

What if I don't register with a PRO?

After 3 years, if your monies remain unclaimed, your money is housed by the society. Dependent upon that society’s own internal policies, your money is split up amongst others based on a complex formula and market share. 

Affiliating with a PRO

Although we are not allowed to fully complete this registration for you, we will provide you with an extremely helpful, detailed guide on how to register with our default PRO, ASCAP. The process is very simple and straightforward – we will hold your hand throughout the entire process.