Publishing Your Work
The term 'publishing' means that a copyrighted work (such as book or a piece of music) is produced and distributed to the public. Sheet-music publishing took off in the mid-18th century in 1754, when Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf and his son Johann Gottlob, who ran a book publishing company in Leipzig, decided to focus predominantly on sheet music. Since then, many aspects of music publishing have changed. Digital technology means that works can now be sent out electronically (for example, in the form of a PDF document), prompting many composers to distribute their works themselves rather than via a publisher. There are still many traditional music sheet publishers (Schott, Peters, Faber, Boosey & Hawkes, etc.), but in the more commercial sector, publishing companies no longer produce printed music. Instead, their main business is to promote compositions to film and television (with a view to selling lucrative licenses for synchronisation rights, which cover music being used as a soundtrack to advertisements, TV programmes, or films) and to recording artists.
You can find a directory of all UK music publishers on the Music Publishers Association’s website, where you can also discover whether or not a publisher accepts unsolicited material.