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Difference Between Publishing And Masters

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The main difference between publishing and masters is that publishing refers to rights in a musical composition, music, and words, whereas masters are the sound recordings. The distinction is that single music composition can be used in dozens or hundreds of separate sound recordings.

What Is Publishing?

Publishing is the method through which songwriters make their musical compositions accessible to the public and generate revenue from their work. If you possess the copyright to the music composition, you are entitled to this. Typically, the songwriter and the publisher are the ones who own ownership of this right. However, if several people contribute to the composition, then the ownership of the composition will be divided among all of the contributors equally.

The songwriter's right includes the right to the original music's notes, rhythms, chords, melodies, and other components that make up the song. Because of this, a song may have several individuals who contributed to the formulation of the lyrics, the composition of the chords, the beat, and so on. These individuals may all lay claim to composer rights for the song.

What Is Master?

Master is the right you get when transforming a composition into a sound recording. Recording artists, record companies, and other parties, particularly those who contributed financially to the recording, often own ownership of the recording. They are in charge of "making music" or "recording," depending on the context.

The ownership of master rights is required to get master royalties. You will have a genuine claim to a master recording if you purchase the master right. An original sound or song utilized for replication and dissemination is a master recording. To put it more simply, if you possess the right to the master recording of a composition, you will be paid before anybody else is allowed to utilize the recording publicly.

Differences Between Publishing And Masters


The first thing to take into consideration is the fact that both of them are royalties. This may not seem to be very significant, but it is. The two primary groups in this context are the songwriters and publishers, on the one hand, record labels, recording artists, and producers. Those who own the master rights get royalties, followed by those who own the publishing rights.

Every music record includes all of the parties; as a result, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, you have the potential to earn royalties in the same way that others do. The most interesting aspect is that you can be a part of more than one and earn as two separate entities.

Who Is It That Earns Them

You can make big royalties from a song in four different ways. They consist of sync royalty, public performance royalty, mechanical royalty and print music royalty. You have the right to receive each type of royalties, in addition to publishing rights, if you own master rights to a song.

Because publishing rights often get the only benefit of the print music royalties, recording studios, recording artists, and record labels are not eligible for this kind of payment. Because they are received from copyrighted music that has been transcribed to print music for dissemination, print music royalties are not particularly prevalent. Since no recording is involved, it is often exclusively given to the song's writer.

How To Earn

Earnings referred to as master royalties are obtained from possessing a master right on the recording of an original song. It is only possible for those who participated in the recording and production of the music to gain this credit since it is directly related to those processes. On the other hand, publishing royalties are earnings due to holding a publisher's right to a song.


There is a mutually reliant and independent relationship between master royalties and publishing royalties. Every recording of a song is done in accordance with the song's composition, and every composition requires the participation of those responsible for recording the song. As a direct consequence, any song that generates master royalties also generates publishing royalties and vice versa.

Royalties can be earned by any party with a copyright on a song at any stage of its creation, from the composition to the recording. On the other hand, it would seem that publishing royalties are more stable regardless of the circumstances, given that the creation of every song begins with the songwriter. However, despite the fact that they could be protected by copyright and earn publishing royalties, not all written songs end up being recorded.


Who Has Ownership Of The Master Recording?

Typically, the person who finances the recording is the one who owns the master rights. This will be the record label in most cases unless you are working with an unsigned artist. In this particular instance, the masters rights belong to the artist.

Why Is Everyone Selling Their Masters?

Deals in the traditional music business are often structured so that the record label, rather than the artist, acquires ownership of the masters of all songs created throughout the term of the record agreement. Artists often get an advance and a royalty portion from any revenues produced from their music in return for giving over the master rights to their songs to a record label.

How Does Copyright Work In The Music Industry?

Master rights and publishing rights refer to two different elements of music copyrights. The owner of a master sound recording is the only person who may legally exercise master rights. An original recording of a song or sound utilized for replication and dissemination is called a master recording.


The rights you own to a song will influence the kind of royalties you are eligible to get for it. If a publisher is not also the music producer, seeking to receive master royalties is not an optimal way to make money and should be avoided. It is also not the best practice for a record company manager to claim publisher royalties unless he owns a portion of the song's lyrics.

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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