Local music publishers Native Tongue recently celebrated their 10th year of helping Aussie acts get heard internationally. Originally started by Chris Gough and now managed by son Jaime Gough, the publishing group have offices both here in Australia as well as New Zealand, the UK and most recently the US. They also boast an impressive client roster including: Cut Copy,  The Amity Affliction, Calling All Cars ,Gossling,  Gin Wigmore, Henry Wagons, Philadelphia Grand Jury, Plutonic Lab, The Black Seeds and Clairy Browne And The Bangin’ Rackettes, for whom they hooked up the incredibly popular Heineken ad opportunity.

For many artists it can be confusing on what a music publisher actually is, who is responsible for publishing, and what it can do to help an artists’ career, so we asked Native Tongues general manager Jamie Gough to give us a ‘crash course’ in music publishing.

The Difference Between A ‘Songwriter’ And ‘An Artist’

The difference between and songwriter and an artist is extremely important. In every piece of music you hear there are two copyrights involved. One relates to the song itself, and has an income stream associated to it that goes solely to the songwriter(s); the second concerns the recording, often referred to as the master recording, or master.

Many artists are the writers of their own songs, and therefore control both copyrights. However, there are songwriters who do not ever perform their songs, they simply write songs for others, or collaborate with artists and other writers in the songwriting process. At the same time, there are artists that have never written a song in their life, yet have successful careers as performing artists. Very generally, the publisher looks after the interest of the songwriter, and the record label works with the artist. Understanding this difference is important for all songwriters and artists.

What A Music Publisher Actually Does

A music publisher manages the copyright in the song on behalf of a songwriter. This involves registering the copyright with the various performing rights societies (eg APRA) and mechanical rights organisations (eg AMCOS) around the world. This allows the publisher to collect royalty income generated through public performance (live performance, radio, TV etc) and mechanical earnings (sales, streams, downloads).

The third main income stream is generated through synchronisation (when a song is used to accompany visual footage). When films, television shows, advertisements and video games use a piece of music in their production, a license is required and a fee charged. A proactive music publisher will seek out these opportunities and also negotiate and handle the various licenses involved on behalf of the songwriter.

When Should Artists Seek Out Publishing Deals

Successful songwriters and artists need a strong team around them to achieve success. A publisher is a very important part of this team. Publishing used to be the last deal signed for many writers/artists with the view to getting a large payday.

Things have shifted somewhat and more acts are seeking publishing deals earlier and viewing the publisher/writer role as key to developing and building the team. There is a huge emphasis on synchronisation and the income these placements can generate for young writers that many seek publishing deals for this reason.

What Publishers Look For In An Artist

Songwriting quality is obviously the first thing we consider. If the writer is in a band or the entire band collaborate to write the material we look at the songs, the performance, the connection with an audience, radio play, live numbers etc.

The team around a band is important and something we factor in. A great manager adds so much to a project. It is also important to seek out great agent and an enthusiastic record label. If these are already involved, then great. If not, a good publisher will help put a strong team around a songwriter.

What’s Expected Of An Artist In Publishing Deals

A songwriting contract is an agreement between the writer and publisher. The writer agrees to deliver songs, the publisher agrees to work those songs and collect the income generated. It is of mutual interest to increase this income, so a good publisher will work with the songwriter to get the best songs out of them.

We’re not afraid to constructively criticize, advise and drive our writers to achieve better results. An honest relationship is always healthy and we love having open and frank discussions with our writers. We expect them to work hard, but we are always supportive.

How In Days Of Declining Sales, Music Publishing Is More Important Than Ever

The reliance on label funding to produce an album has diminished through advancements in technology, as have the barriers to releasing music to the world, so more artists are maintaining control of their master recording rights and looking to publishers to increase revenue in other areas, particularly synchronisation. This income can be significant for developing artists and can also help drive sales revenue, attract interest from key areas of the industry and most importantly build fans.

What A Company Like Native Tongue Can Do For A Writer

Creatively, we will ensure your songs are placed into the hands of quality music supervisors, advertising agencies, film and TV producers etc throughout the globe. Unfortunately, that final decision as to whether your song is used is often out of our hands, however due to strong local and international relationships, our success rate is extremely high.

We also play a key role in developing our writers and help them navigate their way through a career as a songwriter/artist. We do this through collaborations, advice, songwriting initiatives and support. We handle all of our administration in-house and have a great team of sub-publishing partners around the world. This allows us to collect every available cent your song generates in every territory.

Native Tongue’s Publishing Successes You’ve Probably seen

We publish a young NZ songwriter called Gin Wigmore. Gin’s music can be heard on current advertising spots for Alfa Romeo and Samsung.

Last year, Gin and her song ‘Man Like That’ featured in a worldwide advertising spot for Heineken/James Bond, also starring Daniel Craig. Gin’s music has also featured in advertising placements for: Nationwide Insurance (US), McDonald’s (Poland), Ebay (Germany), Lowes (US), Guinness (US), along with over 20 US episodic TV and promo placements, and movie trailers for The Other Woman (Cameron Diaz), Resident Evil 5 and Vampire Academy 2. Whilst Gin has had two number one, multi platinum albums in NZ, the income generated from these international synch placements has gone a long way to helping her sustain a long term career in the music industry.

Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes burst onto the scene with a prominent placement for Heineken, featuring Clairy herself, which was instrumental in the band gaining valid international attention, eventually landing a deal with US record label Vanguard.

Native Tongue has also been very successful with US sync placements for Gossling. Early on we landed a great usage in American Horror Story for her song “Hazard”, this was followed by uses in Gossip Girl, Being Human, Made In Jersey and just this week in So You Think You Can Dance. These placements helped build Gossling’s profile in the US, where she recently signed a deal with Nettwerk Records.

For more info on music publishing and to chat to the good people at Native Tongue visit www.nativetongue.com.au.

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