A Record Deal or Publishing Deal?


The conventional wisdom used to be (in the case of a singer songwriter) that the publishing deal should be delayed until the record deal is in place. It is the record deal which gives value to the singer songwriter’s publishing rights and there is a fear that if the writer concludes a publishing deal before signing a record contract he or she may sell the deal short. This view is no longer so common. Music publishers have become far more competitive. A publisher will often be the first to recognise (before any record company) the talent of a particular songwriter and may enthusiastically seek an involvement with the writer in the expectation of then being able to help secure a record deal. Some publishers will even finance master quality recordings for independent release with a view to building up an artist to the point where a major record deal is achievable.

Publishers are skilled at selling themselves but like all salesmen they tend sometimes to make exaggerated claims. In the majority of cases writers look to publishers for one overriding reason – money. If in the case of a particular recording project there is no difficulty in securing a record deal, then the prudent approach is probably to conclude that deal so that it may then be used to secure the best possible terms from a publisher. Otherwise, if there is no record deal in sight but reasonable terms are available from a publisher there is no reason in principle why a publishing contract should not be concluded without delay.


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