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  • Writer's pictureRandy McGravey

Knowing Your Major Labels and Sub-Publishers

Today we will be talking about major labels/sub-publishers. If you're interested in working with a major label, then you will likely have to sign your music to them exclusively in-perpetuity. From my experience, the major labels usually produce good results and are often very selective. Below we will break down each of the major labels and discuss some details that may help you decide which one to shoot for.


Territory - USA

5 Alarm has lots of different libraries sub-published through their site. They also have a network of international sub-publishers for their own content. Individual libraries listed on 5 Alarm will often have different international sub-pubs.

Territory - USA & Canada

APM is another popular major label in North America. Many of their libraries/labels are also represented by their sister company EMI in other countries. APM publishes LOTS of new albums every 1-2 months.

Territory - Worldwide

BMG is one of the biggest worldwide major labels. Some libraries will sub-publish through BMG worldwide, and others will pick individual territories for BMG to represent them. A library (for example) might sub-publish through 5 Alarm in the US, and BMG for the rest of the world. BMG recently signed a deal with Netflix saying that BMG will be the exclusive provider of music for Netflix original programs outside the US.

Territory - Worldwide

KPM (formerly EMI) is another large worldwide major label. As mentioned before, lots of APM libraries are sub-published through KPM/EMI in other non-North American countries. They are also one of the longest-running music library companies in the world.

Territory - USA, Brazil, Spain

Megatrax is another major label based in the US. They also have Brazilian and Spanish versions of their website for clients in those countries. They list several large placements on their site including some big movies and TV shows. Their site says that they don't accept unsolicited submissions, so it is best to reach out to the individual libraries.

Territory - Germany, Austria

Sonoton is one of the big publishers in Europe. Since Germany is a big market for sync licensing, Sonoton is a great option as a sub-publisher. The website has a limited "public access" option, but try getting on there and looking through their list of libraries. Lots of libraries seem to partner with Sonoton and 5 Alarm.

Territory - Worldwide

Universal is another well-known entity throughout the world. If you've ever watched a movie or TV show, you've likely seen their logo in the credits. Some labels will sub-publish worldwide through Universal, while others will choose their territories individually (similar to BMG). Their former US site was called Firstcom Music, but they have since re-branded to be Universal Production Music US.

Territory - Various (see here)

Warner/Chappell Production Music is Warner Bros' production music entity. Though they are based in the USA, they have lots of international licensing options for their clients. Once again, libraries can sub-publish with them for one or multiple countries.


All of these websites will have a variety of labels for different genres, types of use, etc. If you want to submit music to any of these, it is usually best to reach out to individual libraries. It is a good idea to look at any library's full list of sub-publishers before submitting music to them. If their list looks good to you, then send away (if they are currently accepting submissions). These libraries will most likely want a full 10+ track album of the same style.

As I always say, don't be afraid of exclusivity. Sure, non-exclusive tracks seem better and safer to the artist, but clients (especially TV clients) want pre-cleared music without having to worry about retitling and whatnot. Hopefully this post helps production music composers who wanted to know more about the major labels. Best of luck to everyone!

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