I recently had the opportunity to consider whether a US artist with airplay in Europe would be better served to find a publisher or to simply hire an agency to administer his rights overseas. While it is hard for any self-reliant musician to pay an extra percentage for doing something that they do themselves in the US, not considering such an arrangement might be leaving money on the table.
These agencies can provide independent musicians and small publishers with instant international reach, which includes their bookkeeping expertise, use of sub-publishers in other countries, administrative services to register the copyrights and to affiliate with performing rights groups, and options related to their services in shopping the music for other uses.
What to look for
When considering these groups, I recommend that you ask them about the following:
- Do they have experience with your type of music? (Yes)
- Will they register the copyright in the songs on your behalf? (Yes)
- Will they handle the administration of registering you with U.S. rights societies? (Yes)
- Will they collect mechanicals from foreign labels? (Yes)
- Do they have affiliates in other countries where your music is popular? (Yes)
- How often will they send statements (Quarterly)
- Shopping (don’t expect it, but it can be added)
Foreign Administrative groups can be of great help in dealing with quirks of local/ non-US laws related to how royalties are calculated and paid. Having them work through the process on your behalf has its advantages and likely outweighs the extra percentage.