Music Publisher: Career Information and Education Requirements

Sep 30, 2019

A music publisher works with artists in order to help them achieve market recognition, financial backing or an album deal with a record label. They need to have a strong knowledge of copyright laws, and solid negotiation skills can be beneficial. No formal education is required, but business- and music-related education can be helpful.

Essential Information

Music publishers are professionals in the music business that deal mostly with copyright law and acquiring finances for artists. Songwriters may become their own music publishers, and music publishers can be companies as well as individuals. No specific education is required to become a music publisher, though the study of business, finance and marketing could be useful.

Required Education No standard requirements, though a bachelor's or master's degree in a field related to music and/or business may be beneficial
Other Requirements Music industry internship helpful for providing hands-on experience
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% increase for all producers and directors
Mean Salary (2018)* $95,210 for producers and directors in the sound recording industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

A music publisher is a professional that works in cooperation with musicians and songwriters to market and promote songs in a variety of financial contexts. This can include attempting to gain the attention of major record labels in order to sign a musician or band or agreeing on an amount of money to be paid for commercial use of a song. Music publishers commonly deal with the intricacies of copyright law, including both musical composition and sound recording copyrights, which apply to all recorded music. These professionals may negotiate and deal with licensure as it pertains to the synchronization, public performance or reproduction of certain pieces of music.

Education Requirements

Those in music publishing should have a solid understanding of music and core competencies in music law and business accounting, as well as effective communications skills and writing abilities. Though no postsecondary education is technically required, aspiring music publishers could benefit from a variety of programs that combine the study of business and music. At the undergraduate level, a student may enroll in a bachelor's degree program in music business, music industry management or music. In some cases, these programs lead directly into master's degree options, so a student can graduate with a combined bachelor's degree in music and Master of Business Administration in a five-year period. For individuals already holding bachelor's degrees, some master's degree programs focusing on music business are available as independent options.

Students can learn the basics of music publishing, music engraving, music marketing, royalties, concert management, music history, music theory and music law. Courses may also teach how music publishing companies are founded. Students commonly have the opportunity to participate in music industry internship experiences, which could allow for additional hands-on experience working with qualified professionals in the field. Graduate programs could include seminars in artist management.

Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, does not publish information specific to the field of music publication, it did indicate that there were about 1,510 producers and directors in the sound recording industry in 2018. The average annual wage earned by these producers and directors in general was reported by the BLS as $89,840.

Music publishers promote and market songs for artists. This career does not require formal education; however, having studied a subject such as finance, business or marketing at the bachelor's or master's level can greatly prepare aspiring music publishers for the professional demands of the job. Hands-on experience in the music industry is also recommended, which might be gained through an internship.

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