Understanding the Key Roles & Responsibilities of Music Publishing Companies in the USA

Music Publishing Companies

Publishing is the most complex subset of the music business, without a doubt. At times, some of the most experienced and professional music publishing professionals can have a lot of complications wrapping their heads around all the rules and regulations of music publishing.

Music publishing is the business used for promoting and monetizing musical compositions. Music publishers aim to ensure that songwriters receive royalties for their works and provide chances for those works to be played and reproduced.

Music Publishing Companies

The music industry’s oldest vertical is publishing. Sheet music publishing dominated the music industry in the early twentieth century, long before the first recording technologies appeared. This article will discuss the roles and responsibilities of the music publishing company, but first, we will discuss the top music publishing companies.

Top Music Publishing Companies

Inhouse Music Productions

InHouse Music Productions has panned out to be one of the most trusted and eminent brands in the music industry. Artists at all phases of their careers who want to claim their publishing income while remaining independent and maintaining ownership of their songs may consider Inhouse Music Productions. Artists benefit from the company’s dedicated client service and high-tech operations, which ensure effective income collection and protection in the long run.

Sony/ATV Music

Sony owns Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a music publishing company based in the United States. The company was formed in 1995 when Sony Music Publishing and ATV Music combined.

It was presented by entertainer Michael Jackson. Jackson also bought ATV Music, which had the Lennon–McCartney song repertoire. A group of investors led by Sony/ATV Music Publishing bought EMI Music Publishing in 2012. With approximately three million songs in their collection, they went on to become the world’s largest music publishing administrator. On the other hand, Sony bought the Jackson family’s half-interest in Sony/ATV in 2016.

Universal Music Publishing Group

The Universal Music Publishing Group is an American music publishing company. Universal Music Group is a part of the Vivendi Group. It was known as MCA Music Publishing until its parent company, Seagram, was insolvent. UMPG is the second-largest music publishing company after Sony/ATV Music Publishing. UMPG also has offices in over 30 countries and a three-million-song catalog.

Warner/Chappell Music

The company started in 1811 when it was founded by Chappell & Company. A British music publishing company specializing in piano manufacture, located on London’s Bond Street. Warner Bros. acquired M.Witmark & Sons, Remick Music Corporation, and Harms, Inc. in 1929. In 1969, Tamerlane Music was purchased.

Warner/Chappell was founded in 1987 when Warner Bros. Music Chairman Chuck Kaye led the company to purchase San Antonio-based Chappell & Co. from PolyGram. In 2010, Music & Copyright named it the world’s third-largest music publisher.

Key Roles & Responsibilities of Music Publishing Companies

Protect Copyright

The music publishing company’s copyright department collaborates with Performing Right Organizations (PROs) and mechanical copyright collection agencies to register the songs. PROs vary worldwide, with varied rules, regulations, and fees; they collect money from concerts, broadcasters, shops, and other locations where the song is performed.


To license or use the publishing company’s music collection, the sync department works across TV, films, advertising, games, and online. The sync team collaborates with the music supervisors employed to license music into the medium. This can be extremely particular, and sync teams work on a brief provided by the music supervisors and recommend the best matches from the publishing catalog. Syncs might also happen by happenstance or the relationships between the sync market’s players.


The royalties section gathers information and revenue from PROs, mechanical societies, synchronization, sheet music, and other sources. They normally report to the artists and songwriters twice a year on the commercial terms set in each artist deal. This is referred to as a royalty statement.

Business Affairs

The publishing company’s lawyer negotiates each publishing arrangement. The artist or songwriter will be represented by a lawyer who will bargain on their behalf. The business affairs section of the publishing house collaborates with the administrative teams to disseminate the details of the negotiated agreements so that royalties may be computed. As the contract unfolds, the lawyer keeps track of new song options in an option diary, liaising with the A&R department.