Producer vs. Publisher

Producers and publishers serve different roles in the book and music industries, but share a common goal of making profits with a contracted author or songwriter (the artist). As a writer of books or music, to sell your work it must be transformed into a usable product through a production process, then marketed to likely buyers through publishing efforts. Although it is possible to self-produce and self-publish, professional producers and publishers provide experience, expertise, industry knowledge, contacts and business savvy that some artists may not possess.

Producer vs. Publisher Overview

    Books and music products can take different forms and generate profit in many ways. From physical and digital copies, sheet music, broadcast and film use to derivative works, audio books, ringtones, song buyers and others, each market has different product standards, business practices and payment methods. Professional producers and publishers handle the technical and business aspects to help the artist maximize profits and concentrate on producing more books and music.

Producer Role

    Music producers are hired by the musician, the record company or music publisher as project managers in the recording process. Producers work on songs from start to finish, provide artistic feedback and direction, aid in the development and arrangement of songs, overseeing studio personnel, time and budget constraints. Producers are paid a producer fee plus a percentage of sales-based record royalty payments by the hiring party.

    Producers in the book world are print manufacturers, hired by the author or publisher to print finished books. Book printers are paid per unit of manufacture plus applicable set-up fees and are not entitled to per-sale royalty income. Some book printers offer wholesale distribution and retail fulfillment services for which they are paid fees according to individual pricing policy.

Publisher Role

    Music publishers usually approach independent songwriters or are referred by the record company to market music to buyers. Music publishers are contracted primarily to market songs, handle business negotiations and collect licensing fees and residual royalties – called mechanical licenses and royalties -- from those wishing to record, perform, broadcast or use the music. If the musician is not signed to a record label, some publishers may engage in artist and song repertoire development. Publishers are paid a percentage of mechanical license royalty fees by licensees or licensing agencies, sharing proceeds with artists and/or record labels.

    Book publishers perform many of the same duties as music publishers in identifying and negotiating with markets in which to sell a book, but also perform many record company and music producer-type roles -- providing creative input and assisting in editing and story development. Book publishers are paid a percentage of book sales and various licensing fees from those wishing to use or reproduce all or part of a work.

Contracts and Copyright

    Because the artist will sign contracts with producers and publishers, legal consultation is recommended to protect copyright ownership rights and income. Copyright and contract law is complicated and differs for each industry. Producers, publishers and other industry entities may require the artist to relinquish all or part of individual rights in exchange for advance, lump-sum or royalty payments, or for current or future services rendered.

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