A music publishing company (music publisher) is responsible for ensuring songwriters and composers receive payment when their musical compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer “assigns” or transfers the copyright of their composition to a publishing company.

Music publishing companies will manage composers’ songs and make sure that all the royalties due to them are collected. They will usually actively work to make the songs “move harder”. Music publishing companies’ basic functions are to make deals with songwriters and music composers, promote the songs to anyone who may need a song for whatever reason (advertising, a movie, a promotional campaign, etc). These companies issue licenses for the use of the songs they represent and also collect licensing fees. Thus, the company licenses compositions, help monitor where compositions are used, collect royalties and distributes them to the composers. In exchange, the music publisher will get a cut of income generated by your songs.

Royalties due to artists often go unpaid. Publishers ensure their artistes get paid.  One way to collect monies due is to conduct audits of licensees and go on the “hunt for the money”. Further, publishing companies understand the value of publishing. They know how to price works and can demand suitable price for music that the artiste may struggle to achieve individually

Publishing, in the real sense, can be very tricky: Mechanical royalties, licenses, and accounting are some of the things publishers do to help songwriters navigate the complexities of the music industry. These can be learned by the artiste (or music composer), but it can take a very long time to completely understand publishing. Publishers, on the other hand, know publishing. They know how to protect artistes’ rights from the start.

Protection of these rights can be done via ensuring publishing split sheets are signed.

What is a publishing Split Sheet?

“A publishing split sheet is an agreement between two or more music creators(composers/artistes) that establishes the publishing percentages each individual owns in the song”.

A split sheet is a document that lays out who owns what part(s) of a song. It should ordinarily contain the following: Song title, Legal name of the artiste/producer, Stage name, Address (Physical / Mail), Designation of the parties, Split Percentages, Name of publishing company, Name of performing rights organization, Date, Signatures of all parties.

It is important that composers (artistes) attest to a split sheet and also ensure the information on the split sheet is correct and the percentages total 100%. It allows respective publishers and collecting societies determine how much money to collect for its member.

A split sheet allows the parties to adjust the percentages based on contribution to the song, or other factors BEFORE the record or song is a hit and starts earning money!

Music Publishers can enter into sub-publishing and collection agreements on behalf and for their clients. Music publishers, most times are knowledgeable and know about new technology and the licensing of additional revenue streams such as ringtones. It is no secret that ‘Telcos’ make tons of revenue from the works of music composers, Music publishers are subsequently tasked with the responsibility of getting what their clients are entitled to.

The major myth about music publishing is that it is solely for established artistes and music composers, while it’s true that most music publishers focus on a small group of artistes and music composers who have already achieved traditional success, music publishing is a part of the industry that music composers and artistes at all levels can focus on. From registering and protection of copyrights to collecting royalties and licensing of music, there’s no minimum amount of money an artiste needs to be earning to start taking this vital part of his/her career seriously.


Leave a Reply

Close Menu


Fawehinmi Oyinkansola Esq.

Fawehinmi Oyinkansola aka The FozaDoza is synonymous to energy and passion. With keen interest in the entertainment and legal industrIes, Foza has been able to create a niche in both industries for herself. She obtained her LL.B and a Diploma in Security studies from the prestigious Babcock University Ilisan Remo, Ogun State. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014.

She started out in the entertainment industry as Business manager for a school group called Pro Inc which became the favourite go to hip hop group in school. This spurred her passion for talent management and she has worked as a road manager at Monarc Talent Agency (an affiliate of Aristokrat Records), G- WorldWide Entertainment as business manager and currently is the General Manager at a 360 management company (Incubation Factory).

Her clientele spans across the music, film and telecommunications industries where she has effectively brokered license, distribution and endorsement deals. She has an impressive personal and professional relationships with all her clients which ensures she creates a comfortable working relationship. She leads the music and film divisions of the firm.

Foza is a vocal and passionate change agent, a non conformist and an adventurous risk taker. These traits have made her a known face as well as speaker on the most prestigious entertainment conferences stage. She strongly believes in integrity and is driven by family and legacy building. She has received numerous awards in relations to leadership and social activities.

Foza enjoys her live band music sessions, and a gathering of talented artiste anytime. She is the life of every party and has an excellent social skill.

Olumide Mustapha Esq.

Olumide Mustapha is a technology and entertainment attorney both in Nigeria and the UK. As an undergraduate he was a student of Sociology and economics at the University of Reading in the UK before embarking on his legal career by first qualifying – with Distinction – as a Solicitor from the College of Law UK, (and then practising for a period), with a particular focus on International Commercial Law,
Tax and Intellectual Property. Having been also called to the Nigerian Bar with Honours Olumide has since continued to focus on the areas of media, entertainment and technology law.

Olumide, in applying his vast legal and business knowledge in these sectors, has successfully initiated, negotiated and pushed through numerous transactions to the commercial benefit of clients. He has advised two of the “Big Three” global music labels on their planned entry into, and commercial strategy for, the Nigerian market; negotiated significant licensing agreements with a number of major Nollywood production houses and advertising agencies on behalf of a major music publishing company; consulted for one of the country’s biggest copyright collective management organisations; and worked with numerous technology start-ups in securing funding and scaling their businesses. Olumide is also the Chair of the Music Publishers Association of Nigeria.

On the back of such experience Olumide has also built over time a formidable network of contacts that allows his clients to enjoy a full suite of legal and business advisory services that include the ability to source funds, conveniently acquire/produce/licence valuable content, in addition to ensuring specialised due
diligence is carried out on all transactions and that good governance is practiced at all times; all with a keen understanding of the relevant market dynamics and client’s specific commercial objectives. Moreover, he has significant experience in litigation and has a lot of expertise in utilising the Nigerian court system to ensure client’s rights are protected and enforced at all times.

Never being one to shy away from sharing his professional thoughts, opinions, and analyses, Olumide is regularly featured in various media to provide his views and analysis on the legal and business issues surrounding the Nigerian entertainment and technology industries. Such media outlets include Channels TV, TVC, NigeriaInfo FM, Business Day, The Guardian, Techpoint Africa, and the African
Venture Capital Newsletter amongst others.

Olumide’s aim is to use his years of experience and expertise in international commercial and intellectual property law related matters, and strong network of contacts – both foreign and domestic – to contribute to the legal development of Nigerian enterprise structures and governance, and general business practice; thereby pushing the country closer towards fulfilling its socio-economic potential.

Iredumare Ojengbede Opeyemi

A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria (LLB) and University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (LLM) is a legal practitioner in Nigeria with over six years of experience in intellectual property, telecommunication and cyberspace Law.

He is a cyberspace, media and entertainment researcher with keen interest in Music, Film and Television, digital rights and personal data protection, intellectual property protection, creative financing, Media Advocacy and information literacy on the digital space. A cultured, informed and disciplined legal practitioner, who prides himself as a strategic solution executor, an expert in identifying root challenges and creating specific market/territory based solutions to cyberspace and digital challenges. He is always constantly seeking growth opportunities and self-improvement initiatives as a team player working in and for goal-oriented organizations.

Iredumare has spent the last two years facilitating multimillion naira deals for his clients across catalog licensing, catalog acquisition, intellectual property estate valuation as well as developing music business models for various value chain members in the African creative industry. Iredumare enjoys reading and having solution driven conversations with like minds.