Music publishing may be the single most important part of an artist's career, and yet, it's also the most misunderstood.
In general, there are two types of publishing agreements: a co-publishing deal and a publishing administration deal. But according to veteran producer STREETRUNNER, who can speak from experience, signing a co-publishing deal with a major label is a terrible idea.
In an interview with DJ Pain 1 for BeatStars, the multi-Platinum producer explained why:
A lot of these majors, you sign into a co-pub[lishing] deal and say you got 20 percent of a song [on a co-pub deal], that means only 10% is actually yours. The other 10% goes straight to the publisher. So that 10% is yours, but guess what? Most of these major publishers use Harry Fox [Agency] or an agency to collect—another party to collect on their behalf—and then that agency gets 10%, 20 %, who the fuck knows how much of a percentage they get because we don't really know. And then by the time they get your 20%, that shit gets cut in half. And best believe that major is adding a hidden administrative fee that we don't even fucking know about that's probably not even in our agreement. But then add that shit right there and then before you know it, you're making 30% of your [own] money. Yeah, they might hit you with a $200,000 pub deal, but that's your last big payday you're going to have forever. Unless you fight to get out of it, that's forever... I highly recommend nobody sign to a major and do a co-pub deal.
To be clear, SR isn't only advising against producers signing to a major label and then also doing a co-publishing deal with that same label (record labels rarely sign producers to recording contracts). He is advising against signing a co-publishing, in general, with anyone.
As ASCAP so eloquently put it, "a co-publishing deal is essentially a bank loan with 25% interest." Compare that to an admin deal, in which the artist or producer assigns none of the publishing to a third party and retain 100% control, and it isn't hard to understand why the 14-year-old veteran isn't a fan.
Of course, timing is also a major factor. For instance, rather than inking a publishing deal at the height of his Roc-A-Fella fame, GOAT-worthy producer Just Blaze waited more than a decade before securing his first agreement.
"I ended up making more money now than I would have if I'd done it 10 years ago," he told DJBooth last year.
Knowledge is power. Act accordingly.