The person or company which owns or administers a copyright is usually called the music publisher. The publisher represents the interests of the songwriter and works to maximize the revenue of its catalogue of musical compositions. The publisher usually makes a deal with the songwriter for the sharing of revenue. It often happens that a songwriter acts as his or her own publisher. “Music publishing” originally meant the printing and sale of sheet music. Today, although publishers remain, to a limited degree, in the sheet music business, their main task is the promotion of the use of their copyrights through three primary routes: reproduction rights, performance rights and synchronization rights.
A copyrighted musical work can be owned by a person or company in the same manner as any other property. It can be bought and sold, either in whole or in partial shares.