What is the difference between a publisher and a music label?


Although there are similarities, the job of a publisher and that of a music label are not identical. Both have responsibilities for managing the rights to a musical work, and each receives a percentage of the revenue generated by the songwriter.

However, their working methods and the benefits they bring to the songwriter are quite different. All parties are bound by a contract and then must work together to establish a strategy that will bring the musical success desired by the artist.

The cross-disciplinary job of a music publisher

In order to better understand the difference between a publisher and a music label, it is essential to know what it is all about. Let’s start with the music publisher.

It’s simple, the music publisher is the partner and business associate of a songwriter. His role is to promote the different works of the songwriter, thanks to the knowledge and skills he has, his contacts and his professional network. The two parties are bound by a musical transfer and publishing contract, in which the author-composer grants all his musical rights, in exchange for a percentage of the revenues from the broadcasting and exploitation of the works.

This percentage may not exceed 50% of the author-composer’s income. To obtain his remuneration, the publisher implements marketing strategies so that the songwriter increases his notoriety by going on the radio, duplicates the works and approaches of the labels until he signs, if he is also a performer of the works. The publisher can use its network in the music industry to find other partners and potential listeners, with the aim of generating more royalties.

What is a music label?

A label is a production brand, a label or the name of a company. It is characterized by a legal entity that today defines itself as a music production company, recording music in digital or physical form. It is also associated with any type of sale of musical pieces and music videos. A record label is also called a “record company”.

Their usefulness is of great importance, especially for artists who are just starting out in the music business. Often, these artists do not have sufficient financial capacity to produce their musical works, so they call upon a label. The artist brings in his composition so that the label can determine if he has the necessary and convincing talent to invest in him. If the record label likes the composition, it is able to provide the artist with different organizations and relationships that help the artist to expose his musical project.

The label can rent or offer free space to the artist, if he is promising, in order to produce the different music titles. The company takes risks and invests time and money, with the idea of obtaining a significant return on investment. Then a contract is established between the label and the artist, just like with the music publisher. In this contract negotiated between the parties, it is stated that part of the income generated by the artist, thanks to the productions, is destined for the production company.

Once the contract is signed, the label takes charge of the process of conception, production and distribution of the works. It employs various marketing techniques and sets up a communication campaign throughout the artist’s career, until the moment when both parties find a reason to terminate the contract. When the artist produces a musical and commercial success, both parties are winners. It is therefore essential for artists to establish a good relationship with the label in order to maintain this success for several years.