What is a Co-Publishing Deal?

The music publisher and the writer will co-own the copyrights in the composition.

When partaking in a co-publishing agreement, the music publisher and the songwriter will co-own the copyrights in the compositions. Most commonly, writers in a co-publishing deal will retain 100% of their writer’s share and 50% of their publisher’s share, while the publisher retains 50% of the publishing share, only.


Co-publishing deals tend to be more beneficial to the songwriter than a traditional publishing deal because a co-publishing agreement allows the writer to own not only 100% of their writers share, but also a percentage of the “publisher’s share” of the song. 


However, just because you own part of the publishing does not mean you automatically have the right to administer your share of the publishing. Co-publishing deals often require the songwriter to give away external control over the song itself. This means that the publishing company can seek out sync opportunities at any company they want for a commercial, or in any movie or TV show as they see fit.

One of the most enticing aspects of a co-publishing deal is the advance. Publishing companies will customarily offer you a sum of $25,000-$250,000 upon signing the contract. This can be alluring for a songwriter because it means you can quit your day job and focus all of your energy on writing. But it’s important to know that this advance must be recouped in full by the publisher before you are paid out any royalties from your compositions.

Typically, the publisher will collect their 25% of performance royalties and their 50% of mechanical royalties and set the rest against your advance until they are paid back entirely. It is only then that you will begin to be paid for all future royalties your songs generate.


This chart demonstrates how publishing royalties are usually split up in a co-pub deal:

Publishing Royalties in a Co-Publishing Deal (1)


Interested in learning more? Check out our Guide to Publishing Deals webinar. 


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Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters.