When I first wrote songs, I would sell them to a music publisher who would then take my songs to the record companies and try and get them recorded.
When I became more successful, I was able to go directly to the independent record labels who almost always had their own publishing company. It became advantageous for me to have my songs available for the record label to publish. For example, if a record company liked two songs equally, but one was already with a publisher, they would naturally choose to record the one they could publish. Then they could earn royalties on the publishing as well as record sales.
This was the way I worked until I became successful enough to retain my own publishing. Not only did I get the publisher's portion of the royalty, but it allowed me control over the artists who recorded my songs, since the publisher gets to decide who first releases a song. After the first release, anyone can record or "cover" a song without permission, by just mailing in notification to the publisher and paying the statutory royalty rate established by the Congress.
In 1961, I started my own BMI publishing firm called "Chemistry Music." I named my company after the first song I published, which was entitled "The Chemistry of Love" and co-written with Annette Tucker. The record company who recorded that song, Crystalette Records, was so small the idea of giving them the publishing was out of the question. It just never came up.
In the early sixties, "The Chemistry of Love" gave me the opportunity to begin my own publishing company. In recent years, I've had success in requesting the publishing rights back on the many songs I gave away over the years. Only a very few of my songs belong to other publishers today. I think it's good for a songwriter to own their own songs when possible.
Many successful songwriters have retained their publishing rights. Irving Berlin had Irving Berlin Publishing and owned all his songs. Elvis Presley's "Colonel Parker" made sure everything Elvis recorded was on "Presley Music". Today, a songwriter can pay a publisher to "administrate" the song's promotion and licensing, with the songwriter retaining full ownrship.
I have 96 songs in my Chemistry Music Publishing catalog and over 80 of them are written by me. Eight or nine are co-written with top-notch writers such as Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz (who also wrote "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night"), Dotty Wayne (who also wrote "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes") and Sonny Bono (who also wrote "The Beat Goes On"). A few songs are written by other songwriters.
To view the CHEMISTRY MUSIC CATALOG, in Adobe Acrobat, [CLICK HERE]