Module Overview

Music Publishing

The administration of mechanical and performance copyright royalties in songs generates huge amounts of money every year.  This makes Music Publishing a vital source of income for most professional songwriters and many musicians.

This module will familiarise songwriters with the fundamental issues in music publishing.  It will begin with the history of the industry, the key concepts of music copyright, and the collection societies and music publishing companies that administer the royalty streams generated therein. 

As the module progresses it will cover more complex topics, including a detailed evaluation of music publishing contracts, before moving on to other advanced subjects including sub-publishing and synchronisation.

The module will conclude with a comprehensive analysis of contemporary issues in publishing, including online exploitation of copyright and new business models.  Digital copyrights issues, including the impact of file sharing systems, licensing arrangements between IMRO, PRS for Music and YouTube, or the impact of ad-supported music sites such as Spotify will be analysed and discussed using the latest news sources. 

This module will encourage musicians to apply their knowledge in real world situations with their own material and is an essential module for all songwriters who want to make a living from their music.

Module Code

MUSG 3010

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

The evolution of copyright


Copyright protection


Songwriting splits


Moral Rights


Music publishing company structures – majors and indies


Music publishing writer agreements

Exclusive, non-exclusive, single-song assignment, admin and sub-publishing, assignment of copyright, obligations, minimum commitments, options and reversions

Public performance collection societies

IMRO, PRS For Music, ASCAP etc

Mechanical collection societies

MCPSI, The Harry Fox Agency, The MLC etc

A&R in music publishing


Sectoral analysis

Broadcast, live, online


Licensing music into television, film, advertising and video games

Production Music Libraries


Copyright infringement


Contemporary developments in publishing: digital publishing issues and new business models


  • Teaching will be via lectures, Q&A, audio and video material, internet resources, discussions and debates, small group exercises, the BIMM VLE and independent study. 
  • Teaching material will include examples from real world contemporary legal agreements, important music industry media sources and leading texts on the subject.
Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination50
Other Assessment(s)50