how does a publishing admin advance work and how can i get an advance in 2021?

March, 22 2021

If you're looking to make a living with your music, it's important to understand the many potential income streams you need to grow your career. Publishing is known to be a major source of income, which is why many musicians want to sign a publishing deal. While it remains a popular goal, many musicians are not entirely sure of what a publishing deal entails.

Publishing is at the heart of the music business and if you are a songwriter it may prove to be your biggest source of income. And it all starts with the song. From there it can go many ways, but the basic elements of income are advances given to you against future earnings, and the various royalties received from a song being enjoyed by its listeners through radio, TV, performances, CDs, and online streaming and download platforms.

As a general rule, there are several types of music publishing agreements. They include a traditional writer-publisher deal; a co-publishing deal with your personal publishing company; and a publishing administration deal. For this post, we're going to look at the publishing administration deal and how, as a prolific songwriter, you can benefit from this type of agreement.

The Publishing Administration Deal

Unlike other publishing deals in which you share the ownership with another party (whether an individual or a company), a publishing admin deal does not require you to assign any of your song ownership to another party. You retain 100% and engage your administrator to do all administrative functions relating to your song catalog.

This includes:

• PRO registrations

• Registrations with the US Copyright Office

• Worldwide registrations through sub-publishers to collect foreign income

• Negotiating and issuing licenses

• Collecting your royalties from all song-related royalty sources

While you retain all ownership of your music, you agree to a commission in return for these services, typically 10-15% of domestic income and 15 – 20% for foreign income.


Some publishing admin deals involve only administrative duties but no creative services – depending on the company you choose to deal with. If they have a creative department, you may also get access to a team that will pitch your songs to artists, film, and TV for use in shows and advertisements. In this instance, if they secure a use for your music, you may have to pay a higher percentage for pitching services. This is your administrator's incentive to go out and generate income for you.

The Publishing Admin Advance

As a songwriter, it's important to understand the concept of the advance and the definition of the word recoupment. Whether it's a recording or publishing advance, many sectors within the industry will pay an artist money upfront, based on future revenue. This is a common form of compensation for the artist.

While advances are more common in publishing or recording deals, the publishing admin advance is becoming more frequent. As digital distribution and streaming have become prevalent, more artists can show the income streams necessary to warrant a publishing admin advance. There are several factors a publishing administration company will consider before offering an advance against future royalties. These include the depth of your catalog, “pipeline” income, existing licenses, or impending significant income – like a big single or album coming out.

While a publishing admin advance can give a songwriter revenue when it's most needed, you need to understand that any advance is basically a loan against future revenue. Like any advance, if you accept a publishing admin advance, you will not receive any of your regular income from royalties until the advance is repaid, otherwise known as recoupment. Also, in some cases, your administration commission can go up if you are given an advance – so it's always a good idea to run the numbers and consult your attorney or manager before agreeing to any deal.

A publishing admin advance can be a great way to obtain revenue when you need it most. Discuss the options with your publishing administration company to understand the terms of any new deal and how they may best benefit you.