How to thrive as an indie music publisher

Indie music publisher guide to success


When most people think of music publisher they think of some big-time fortune 500 company or they think of a millionaire man or woman walking working in Manhattan, NY in a fancy office on the 50th floor of a huge building. At least I know when I was younger that’s what I thought. However, there are plenty of music publishers and all of them don’t have to be big-time. For independent artists who want full control of their career they may be wondering how do they go about becoming successful as an indie music publisher. Yes it’s possible and the with this whole new indie artist movement it’s becoming even more probable.

If you are an independent artist and haven’t signed any type of music publishing deal then you are already your own music publisher. That’s right. By default you are your own publisher. Now here’s the thing. Since you are your own publisher it’s solely up to you how to figure out the ropes and find out how to monetize your songs. Below are 5 great tips on how to build, market, monetize your songs and have success as an indie music publisher.

1. Register as a Songwriter and Music Publisher with a PRO

PRO stands for Performing Rights Organizations which applies to companies like ASCAPBMI and SESAC. As an independent artist who writes their own songs you can register for ASCAP or BMI (SESAC is a little different; you have to be offered a membership by them.) as a writer and publisher. Once you do you’ll add your songs to your account under their company and they will then start tracking your songs and distributing public performance royalties to you every time your song is played.

        2. Finance, Promote and Do Your Own Shows

In stead of hoping you had some huge corporation to back up or finance a show of yours, finance your own shows. You can always rent out or contact a local center, building, or small club in your area. You can even see about performing at venue or becoming the opening act for a bigger named artist. This will help build your brand, grow your audience and if the show is successful you’ll have a nice size check afterwards.

        3. Shop Your Own Songs to Companies

If you’re an indie artist and now an indie music publisher you have complete control over your songs and can do whatever you want with them. What if you have a collection of 50-100 songs and don’t want to keep them all to yourself. You can monetize off this by shopping a few of your songs to an already established artist. Since you are your own music publisher you won’t need representation. You’ll just need to find the right A&R or management contacts and come off professional. Don’t think this option is out of your league. There are plenty of people who got their big break without representation or having a huge marketing machine behind them.

      4. Shop Your Songs as Commercial Music

Don’t just stop at shopping a few of your songs to mainstream music artists. Have you ever thought about using your song as jingle or theme song to everyone’s favorite commercial or sitcom? As an indie artist you can definitely monetize your songs with commercial ad music. In order to be successful with this option you’ll have to reach out to advertising agencies and ask them if they currently have any clients who could use commercial ad music. If they say yes you would either send an already created song or make up a catchy song that fits their needs. The best locations where you would want to reach out to advertising agencies are New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.

         5. Put Your Songs Online to Sell Independently

 A lot of indie artists may say the options listed above are great but what about the most important way to get your music out there? How do I sell my music independently to a major audience? The great thing is you don’t have to be signed to publish your music online. Of course you can put your music on your social media pages or Sound Cloud but you can also put your music on digital platforms like iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. To do this an an indie music publisher and artist you will have to register with an independent digital distributor such as CD Baby or TuneCore. You may say it’s signing a deal but it’s not. It’s not different than registering with BMI or ASCAP and yes digital distribution companies charge a fee to but it’s worth it in the long run. Not to mention you still get to be your own publisher.

These tips stated above are just some of the creative ways an independent artist who writes his or her own music can make money off their works while still remaining an indie artist. When many think of the term “indie” they think of someone struggling or living “paycheck to paycheck.” Although this is the reality for some it’s not for all and it doesn’t have to be for you. Take your career in your own hands now and start applying these techniques. You may just be able to make a living solely off doing what you love most.

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