Music publisher

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A music publisher is a music publisher's business .

Music publishers distribute works of music . You can publishers of light music (U-publishers) and publishers of serious music (E-publishers) are divided. E-music publishers generate a large part of their sales from sheet music printing and the paper business (sheet music ). In comparison, underground music publishers generate an even larger proportion of their revenues from the exploitation of their music on radio, TV, advertising, film and on the stage (so-called performance rights ) or through levies from the sound carrier manufacturers (so-called mechanical rights).

Meanwhile, sales from new media such as ring tones , online music and music in computer games are adding up .

With around 7,000 new and around 300,000 available sheet music editions annually (as of 2009), the music publishers achieve around 630 million euros annually. This paper business , in industry jargon, accounts for around 15 percent of total sales. Most of the rest are brought in by the music editions through performances on the radio , television , the Internet, theaters or advertising. Via GEMA, users settle copyright payments proportionally to the composers still protected by copyright or their heirs and, on the other hand, to the relevant music publishers who publish the works. The music book publishers differ significantly from others: Orchestras need music notes - also called music books - for performances. In comparison, products from other publishers appear much less often as plays, on the radio, etc. You are economically more independent of the limited copyright protection.

The world's largest music publisher until 2006 (in the areas of pop / rock / hip-hop) was the EMI Group (until 1972 Francis, Day & Hunter ). With the purchase of BMG Music Publishing Verlag in 2006 by the Universal Music Group, the Universal Music Publishing Group became the world's largest music publisher in 2007. With over 300,000 music titles in its catalog, Peermusic Inc. is now the world's largest privately owned music publisher. The most important music publisher in Austria is Universal Edition in Vienna . According to the company, the world's largest international classical music publisher is Boosey & Hawkes .

The large recording companies ( Sony BMG , Universal , EMI and Warner ) maintain their own music publishers, most of which they had acquired by buying from private publishers. Many smaller labels are also increasingly switching to adding a publisher to their label in order to allow part of the income to flow back into the label's marketing. Music publishers are an important part of the value chain in the music industry .

The interest organization of the German music publishers is the German Music Publishers Association

In 2010, music publishers came to the Leipzig Book Fair for the first time in March (if the Frankfurt Music Fair takes place differently).

The most important archival records from music publishers in the German-speaking region in terms of both quality and quantity are the archives of music publishers in the Saxon State Archives - Leipzig State Archives . With over 700 linear meters, it comprises archival material from the period 1800 to 1990 and documents the national and international activities of important music publishers such as Breitkopf & Härtel , CF Peters and VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik .

Notes on the Internet

In the course of the spread of the Internet, new forms of distribution of musical notes emerged.

Online music publishers no longer deal with printed paper, but make the graphics available as files.

Advantages of digital sheet music:

  • There are no costs for printing, warehousing and distribution.
  • The notes are therefore inexpensive or even free of charge
  • The files can be updated continuously

Contracts in the publishing house

Contracts in the publishing house are often divided into three categories: contracts that regulate the relationship with other institutions and natural persons, so-called standard contracts, contracts on copyrights and all other contracts. The terms used below for the individual contracts are not legally stipulated; each is a contract sui generis .

Standard contracts

Music publishing contract

The basis of all contracts in the publishing house is the music publishing contract, which, as an exchange contract , imposes main and ancillary service obligations on both sides, both the publisher and the author . This often takes the form of the author being obliged to deliver a finished, print-ready musical work and to transfer his exploitation and usage rights according to the UrhG to the publisher for exercise. The publisher is obliged to publish the work. According to § 6 of the UrhG, this means making the work accessible to an indefinite public. The publisher is obliged to utilize the work in the best possible way and to invoice the resulting income properly and in accordance with the contract. As a rule, the author and publisher are members of GEMA or the relevant national collecting society . Rights according to §§ 16–22 of the Copyright Act UrhG are initially exercised by the collecting societies.

Author's exclusive contract

A continuation of the music publishing contract is the author's exclusive contract, which binds the author and publisher to one another for future works. With the conclusion of an exclusive author agreement, the publisher can pursue two kinds of motivation: Either the publisher places its trust in the talents of a still unknown artist and would like to secure them for a longer period, usually over 3 to 5 years. The regulation of § 40 of the UrhRG, which allows termination after 5 years, cannot be overridden with an exclusive author agreement. The rights to all works created by the artist during this period generally remain with the publisher for the entire duration of the protection period . Or the publisher would like to retain or buy an already successful artist. This is often achieved with an advance payment, which is based on previous successes of the author or on the expected income. The contracts are generally extended as long as there are still outstanding prepayments to the detriment of the author. For this purpose, the so-called rolling advances (ongoing advance payments) are often linked to a minimum contribution obligation. A termination on the part of the artist is linked to a repayment of the outstanding advance payments. During the term of the contract, the author is not permitted to conclude contracts with other publishers or to allow third parties to exploit his copyrights without the consent of his exclusive publisher. Often, the conclusion of an exclusive author agreement is also associated with the transfer of existing works to the exclusive agreement. Old works then usually have to be bought from another publisher.

Co-publishing contract

The co-publishing contract forms the basis for cooperation between several publishers. It regulates the relationship between two or more publishers who publish a work or a large number of works together. The co-publishing contract stipulates which of the publishers involved is responsible for evaluating certain usage rights, who may be in charge and how legal violations will be dealt with.

Edition contract

The so-called edition contract, which regulates the relationship between a publisher and a non-publisher, often an author, is similar to the co-publishing contract. The edition contract thus represents a further source of income for the artist, since, in addition to receiving the rolling advances, he also participates in the direct evaluation of the usage rights of his works. In the internal relationship , the parties behave similarly in a GbR , in external relations a so-called Edition is registered with GEMA, which is located under the roof of the publishing house and has its own edition number.

Administration contract

In contrast to the co-publishing agreement and the edition agreement, no exploitation rights are assigned to other publishers or persons in the administration agreement. The administration contract merely transfers the management of a publisher or a catalog of works to another publisher. The administration publisher is given the authority to exercise all rights and collect all income. For this activity, however, he only receives a commission, which currently does not usually exceed 10 percent of the income. The administration contract also regulates what exactly is defined as income.

Sub-publishing agreement

The sub-publishing contract, which could be described as an administration contract for foreign countries, is based on it. Through him, a publisher transfers its rights to exercise abroad to a local publisher. The advantage lies in the direct support of the plants at the respective location. A foreign collecting society could also take care of it, but the distribution to the original publisher would then take place according to a predetermined distribution plan. Without a sub-publisher, the funds are then passed on to the original publisher via reciprocity agreements between the international collecting societies, with the deduction of a foreign commission of around 20 percent. An undertaking that z. B. from Germany for markets like Japan or the USA is hard to imagine or would take some time. For this reason, all major publishers in almost every country now have their own sister companies, which means that even the sub-publisher's share remains in the group's assets .

Ancillary copyrights contracts

The following contracts are only relevant if the music publisher is a producing publisher, otherwise they are typically concluded by recording companies and not by music publishers.

Ancillary copyrights secure, among other things, the legal position of performing artists, i.e. those who do not create a work, but perform, perform, arrange or even import it.

Artist contract

The artist contract plays a central role among the contracts on ancillary copyrights. It regulates the relationship between the artist, who does not necessarily have to be the author, and the publisher. The boundaries to the music publishing contract seem to be fluid, but if they are not, one is first of all clear about the legal difference between an author and an artist. While the music publishing contract is about securing intellectual property by the publisher, the artist contract is aimed directly at the z. B. physical recording of a piece, just on a performance. In return, the artist receives the contractual and legal remuneration to which he is entitled. Often these contracts are tailored to a specific title, a certain number of titles or a fixed term. Depending on this, it can be a title exclusivity or a personal exclusivity. In the case of the former, the artist may not record the same title with any other contractual partner in an agreed period. The personal exclusivity goes even further and limits the artist's services to a single contractual partner for a defined period of time, regardless of the title. In addition, the artist usually undertakes to participate in concerts and performances of all kinds, e.g. B. Promotion dates . Rights to personal marketing can also be assigned; this often affects naming rights and the right to one's own image (especially for merchandising purposes ).

Producer contract

In addition to the artist, the producer of a work is of crucial importance. Its task is z. B. in arranging and coordinating the recordings and sequences. He is involved in all steps in the creation of the final piece of music, from the first recording of an instrument to the completion of the master tape. As a rule, he will conclude a contract with the sound carrier manufacturer for his services as a sound director, the so-called producer contract. Like the artist, he transfers his services to the manufacturer for exclusive evaluation.

Tape transfer agreement

The producer also has the option of producing a work entirely on his own. All rights and artistic performances required for the production of the finished master tape must be financed by him in advance. The finished end result of his work is sold to a publisher, phonogram manufacturer or distributor , provided, of course, the producer finds a buyer. The tape transfer agreement regulates this process. Usually only established stars choose this type of contract, as the (then low) risk of financial failure has to be borne by themselves, but higher sales participations are achieved.

Label contract

The label contract, which actually only represents a permit on the part of the publisher, plays a separate role among the contracts on ancillary copyrights. With the label contract, the artist or producer is allowed to have their performances and services distributed under their own label . On the one hand, established musicians like to use this opportunity to publish their products under their own name. On the other hand, this method is often used in connection with so-called major labels and still relatively independent artists, because both the publisher and the artist want to avoid the audience perceiving the performances as inauthentic if the music is published by a mainstream label. With the conclusion of a label contract, productions can be placed under the guise of an independently acting label, whereby the rights for production, distribution and evaluation largely still lie with the major label.

Other contracts

Other contracts, which are not mentioned in the category of standard contracts and contracts on ancillary copyrights, are mostly supplements or continuations of existing contracts.

A classic contract that extends the rights of the publisher is the merchandising contract. The publisher acquires the artist's personal rights, such as B. Name rights or the right to your own picture. The difference to the artist contract is that in the merchandising contract the rights are used explicitly and exclusively for the evaluation of merchandising articles.

Further contracts are e.g. B. the contract with a management , guest performance contracts and tour contracts.



  • Thomas Tietze: Music publishers , German Music Information Center 2012 ( online ; PDF; 216 kB)
  • Music publishers , in: Deutscher Musikrat (Ed.): Musik-Almanach 2007/08. Data and facts on musical life in Germany, ConBrio, Regensburg, 2006, pp. 1003-1033.
  • Hans Heinsheimer : Best regards to Aida. Nymphenburger Verl.-Handlung, Munich 1969
  • Jörg Fukking: The music publisher - an entry point. Musikmarkt, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-9809540-7-2
  • Arno Grohmann: Performance disruptions in the music publishing contract. Jena Science Verl.-Ges, Jena 2006, pp. 1003-1033, ISBN 3-935808-95-X
  • Otto Kolleritsch (ed.): The music publisher and its composers in the 21st century. For the 100th anniversary of the Universal Edition (= Studies of Valuation Research 41) , Universal Edition, Vienna-Graz 2002, ISBN 3-7024-1313-8
  • Christian Baierle: Der Musikverlag , Musikmarkt Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-9811024-5-1
  • Urs Pfeiffer: From sheet music printer to rights broker: The development of modern music publishing , Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, Marburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8288-2806-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ More independent of temporary copyright protection. Cf. for example Bbl. 17, p. 38
  2. Music publishers in March also for the first time at the Leipzig Book Fair