Music Industry Terms You Should Know

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If you’re interested in the music industry, whether as a musician, producer, or fan, there are some terms that you should know to better understand how the industry works. Here are some of the most important music industry terms to know:

  • Master recording: The original recording of a song, made by the artist or producer.
  • Composition: Musical composition can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music.
  • Publishing: Music publishing is the business of promotion and monetization of musical compositions: music publishers ensure that songwriters receive royalties for their compositions, and also work to generate opportunities for those compositions to be performed and reproduced.
  • Sound recording copyright: The legal right to control the reproduction and distribution of a particular recording.
  • Mechanical license: A license that allows someone to reproduce and distribute a song.
  • Sync license: A license that allows someone to use a song in a movie, TV show, or other visual media.
  • Sampling: The act of copying a section of one sound recording and reusing it in a new recording. Without receiving the appropriate clearance from the copyright holders of the original recording, sampling can result in copyright infringement.
  • Performance rights organization (PRO): An organization that collects royalties for public performances of music.
  • Royalties: The money paid to a songwriter, composer, or artist for the use of their music.
  • A&R: Stands for “Artists and Repertoire.” A&R representatives are responsible for discovering and signing new talent.
  • Back Catalogue: This is a collection of an artist/writer’s music e.g. albums, EP, and/or singles. Also known as a ‘discography’.
  • Digital Service Provider (DSP): A streaming platform (like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, etc) or an online store that distributes digital audio to consumers.
  • Record label: A company that produces and distributes recorded music.
  • 360 deal: A record deal in which the record label takes a percentage of all of the artist’s revenue streams, including merchandise, touring, and endorsements.

Understanding these terms will give you a better understanding of the music industry and how it operates. Knowing these terms can help you navigate the business side of the music industry and appreciate the creative side even more.