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  • Writer's pictureRachel Sellick

A Career in the Music Industry: Music Publishing

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

This week we continue our look into the careers in the music industry with a focus on Music Publishing. With all eyes on the artists, we wanted highlight some of the people and career areas behind the artist, how they got to where they are and why they chose the career they did.

This week we have had the pleasure of talking to Phil Simpson from First Original Music Publishing in Yorkshire. Phil has been working in the music industry for just under 15 years however, he didn't start in publishing. For many years, Phil played in a band and studied Creative Music Technology at University. After settling into a career as a booking agent, Phil went from strength to strength, representing some of the leading names within the Acoustic/Folk/World genres. The growth of his own booking agency led Phil to merge with other companies until Strada Music LLP was born.

Why Music Publishing?

Phil had been actively working as a booking agent until recently when he decided to change career paths. Due to the overwhelming need for music never being greater than it has been over the last 14 months, Phil became interested in Music Publishing.

Having always had an interest in the lyrical side of the songwriting, Phil decided he wanted to be someone who could advocate and support songwriters and their work. He understands how the power of a song can change a listener's perspective, whether that be their mood for the day or the way they look at what is happening on the TV screen. Although he still works as a booking agent, publishing has always been a great interest of Phil’s and he is thrilled to be able to provide another service to help songwriters in the industry.

Music publishing offers the songwriter a safe space to get creative and develop while having the security of knowing someone is administering their rights and ensuring they are being paid fairly. A publisher is also able to give songs a new lease of life and offer them in a different context than they have before.

A typical day in the office?

The role of a publisher is very intricate and has many different areas of the business which need addressing which is why every day can be vastly different. Some day-to-day activities can include liaising with writers, and arranging co-writing sessions or creating plans of action for particular songs. This makes the career interesting and diverse.

As mentioned previously, publishers work with songwriters and composers while they develop work, however they can also secure commissions for new works, register the works of songwriters and composers with all appropriate societies and agencies, produce demo recordings and produce promotional materials. Phil credits being able to connect with the right people and always looking at the data to having success in the field.

These are just some examples of the work publishers do. The biggest part of the job is to ensure the songwriters have the correct copyright on their songs, that they are promoted fairly and receive the correct royalties for their work.

What should an artist expect from a publisher?

Due to the work involved, songwriters must have faith and trust in the publisher they work with. Working with a good publisher provides the songwriter with the knowledge there is someone working hard for them behind the scenes, ensuring they are receiving the right pay and checking and double checking data to make sure nothing has been missed.

Phil looks to work with writers he can relate to on a creative level, and for his, this includes those mainly within the Americana, Folk or Acoustic scene.

"It's all about making great music, having that raw material and being as good as you can be"

Advice for people wanting to look into the career?

Phil's advice for anyone wanting to work within the music publishing business is to do your research. It is a complex area full of data and lots of intricacies. Although it has a diverse range of tasks it is very numbers based. Staff flexibility is a must as most music publishers are small, they also like to see people taking a lively interest in the work as well as a willingness to learn.

It is recommended that anyone wanting a career in publishing gains a Music Business degree or at least interns at relevant companies. Reaching out to individuals within the industry is also a great way to make connections and can help you to get on the right career path.

Get in touch

You can learn more about what Phil gets up to or you are interested in getting in touch, head over to Instagram @agent_phil_simpson

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