The glossary for artists specifically highlights online marketing and music production. Explore these key terms and concise definitions.


360 Deal

A 360 deal is found in many of today’s contracts between a record label and a recording artist and refers to the label’s efforts to obtain a share in all other... Read more
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A&R Department

The Artist and Repertoire (A&R) department of a record label is the portion of a record company that is responsible for finding new talent and convincing t... Read more

Administration Deal

In administration deals, the songwriter retains full ownership of their copyrights. Though the music publisher does not have any ownership in the work, the dut... Read more


An advance is a type of loan that serves as income for the artist or songwriter as they record or write songs and wait for royalties to generate revenue. These... Read more

Album Cycle

An album cycle refers to the period of the time between an artist’s albums, usually measured from the start of the recording of one album to the end of marketi... Read more

Artist Site

An artist site should act as your online home, being a website that hosts your social media links, biography, music links images etc. This should tell people w... Read more
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Back Catalogue

This is a collection of an artist/writer’s music e.g. albums, EPs and/or singles. Also known as a ‘discography’.

Black Box

Black Box royalties refer to money that is earned but never paid out to any copyright holder, due to any one of several reasons.

Blanket Licenses

Blanket licenses are a type of license allowing one to use all the compositions covered under the agreement with no limit on use for one payment (usually annua... Read more

Bundled Services

A DSP user can access one or more services “bundled” together for the same price.

Business Manager

A music business manager handles an artist or songwriter’s finances and other logistics, typically without touching their personal lives.
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A catalog is a collection of works by one songwriter or one artist, or a group of songwriters or a group of artists.

Co-Publishing Agreement

A co-publishing agreement means that while the music publisher has ownership in the copyright and administers its exploitation, another publisher (possibly a s... Read more

Commercially Satisfactory

A record will be deemed by a record label to be “commercially satisfactory” when it has been judged to have a realistic potential to sell a reasonable amount o... Read more

Compilation Album

A compilation album contains various recordings featuring multiple artists.


Free tickets offered for an artist’s concert.

Controlled Compositions Clause

A controlled composition clause affects the mechanical royalties paid on a composition that is co-written by the recording artist. The controlled composition c... Read more


A copyright grants protection under the law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression. Copyright protection affords the composer ... Read more

Copyright Act

Copyright Law of the United States, Title 17 of the United States Code. (See:

Copyright Royalty Board

The CRB is a three-judge panel appointed by the Librarian of Congress to determine compulsory rates under the Copyright Act, among other responsibilities.


When used as a noun, cover refers to a recording by an artist who is not the original songwriter. When used as a verb, cover refers to the act of recording the... Read more


A crew is a group of people besides those on stage hired by the artist or record label to work on a concert tour and travel with the artist from venue to venue... Read more


Customer Relationship Management originated in business enterprise software suites like Oracle and now appears in web services for music. It refers to function... Read more


Cross-collateralization refers to the recoupment of advances from multiple sources. It is typically included in a recording contract to reduce risk imposed on ... Read more
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Stands for Digital Audio Workstation. A DAW is software or a computer program used to record, edit and produce music. Popular DAW software includes ProTools, L... Read more


Delivery refers to the specifications in a recording contract by which an artist may submit masters to a record label for potential release.

Demo Deal

A demo deal occurs between a record label and an artist in which the label agrees to advance the costs of a certain number of demo recordings.

Derivative work

If you sing a cover song and change something about the track (whether it be lyrics, timing, key), your cover has now become a derivative work. Think of it as ... Read more

Digital Millenium Copyright Act

Passed by Congress in 1998, the DMCA, in broad terms, heightened the consequences for copyright infringement on the Internet. Notably, the Act also revised pub... Read more

Digital Phonorecord Delivery

A DPD is another name for a digital download and refers to a transmission to the purchaser that allows them to download music to use repeatedly and i... Read more

Direct to Fan

Without middlemen. Mail order CDs sold by the band or T-shirts sold at a gig. It’s not a new thing.

Distribution Agreement

Many independent artists agree to allow independent distributors to distribute their music according to a distribution agreement between both parties. Major di... Read more
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Despite the evolution of music technology, EPs are generally considered the middle ground between a standard album and a single, both in cost and length.


Short for “electronic press kit”. This is just a computer or web version of an artist’s publicity material: biography, pictures, showreel, news, etc. There are... Read more
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First Use

A copyright owner has the right to determine who will be the first artist to record a song.


Most streaming platforms have a limited ‘free’-to-use option, usually supported by advertising. This model where users can have limited access in exchange for ... Read more
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Gold Album

An album which has sold 500,000 copies is certified by the RIAA as “gold.”
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Harry Fox Agency

The Harry Fox Agency is a mechanical license administrator. In short, HFA issues mechanical licenses for reproductions of musical compositions embodied in soun... Read more
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Independent Distributor

Independent distributors provide distribution services for both independent artists and record labels. Some independent distributors are affiliated with a majo... Read more
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Joint Work

A work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that each contribution will merge into one inseparable whole. If one songwriter writes all of the mus... Read more
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Key Man Clause

This section of a contract gives a party the ability to terminate a contract if a particular person, or “key man,” no longer works for the other party.
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Label Deal

Occasionally, two or more labels will form an agreement, known colloquially as a “label deal,” with each other for the rights and royalties of (typically) mult... Read more

Lead Sheet

Songwriters are often required to submit lead sheets, which is a written piece of paper containing the lyrics and music to a song.


A licensee is the recipient of rights under an agreement.


A licensor is the grantor of rights under an agreement.
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Master Use License

A master-use license permits the licensee to use a copyrighted sound recording in a new project. Typically, licensees are seeking to use recordings in audiovis... Read more


A master is a term used by a record label to refer to a sound recording fixed in tangible form and from which all subsequent copies of the sound recording are ... Read more

Matching Folio

A matching folio is a collection of printed sheet music for a particular album, i.e. the folio “matches” the album.

Mechanical License

According to the Harry Fox Agency, a Mechanical License grants to the user the rights to reproduce and distribute copyrighted musical compositions on CDs, reco... Read more

Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are paid to the owner or administrator of the composition whenever a copy of one of their songs is made. Each time a consumer purchases a ... Read more

Merchandising Rights

Merchandising rights allow the reproduction and distribution of merchandise with the name and likeness of an artist or material about the artist.

Mixed Folio

Mixed folios are printed books with sheet music from multiple songwriters.

Most Favored Nations Clause

The MFN Clause in a music industry contract specifies that one party must give the other party equal or better terms than the ones they have with any outside p... Read more

Music Supervisor

A music supervisor works with motion picture or television producers and directors to recommend what music should go into the soundtrack for the movie or progr... Read more
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Net Artist Rate

This royalty amount is equivalent to all royalties payable to the artist minus all the royalties owed to various producers for a given master.

Net Publisher’s Share

When an artist’s catalog is up for sale, the Net Publisher’s Share plays an important function in determining the monetary value of the catalog. Net Publisher’... Read more

Net Receipts

Net Receipts refer to the royalties earned by the record label that are solely attributable to the Masters minus all expenses incurred by the label. In the cas... Read more
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Performance Rider

A rider is an additional provision attached to a contract. A performance rider is a set of requests that a performer sets out as requirements for a performance... Read more

Performing Rights Organization

According to the Copyright Act, a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) is an association that licenses the public performance of nondramatic musical works on b... Read more

Personal Manager

A personal manager in the music industry works on behalf of a songwriter or artist to handle almost every aspect of their life—both personally and professional... Read more


A phonorecord is a material object that embodies sound.

Physical Records

Sound recordings sold through a tangible medium which takes up physical space and not through a digital audio transmission. Examples include CDs, vinyl, casset... Read more

Platinum Album

An album which has sold 1,000,000 copies is certified by the RIAA as “platinum.”

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney gives a party the right to sign documents in place of another party.


Used as a basic figure for establishing royalty shares in recording contracts, the Published Price to Dealers, or PPD, is the wholesale unit price of a sound r... Read more

Print License

A print license is an agreement between a copyright owner (music publisher) and the user of the copyright. It gives permission to rearrange, display, and/or pr... Read more


A producer is someone in charge of the recording process in the recording studio. Producers will have varying levels of creative input depending on the recordi... Read more

Producer Agreement

The producer agreement usually occurs between a producer and artist, though sometimes it can form between a label and a producer. The producer is often entitle... Read more


Promoters work alongside publicists and other marketing professionals in order to create promotional opportunities for an artist or project.


When an artist, songwriter, producer, publisher, or label is not entitled to royalties for every song on an album, the royalties will be “prorated,” meaning th... Read more


A music publisher is responsible for licensing and administering composition copyrights of songwriters. Typically, they secure the placement of songs in the pu... Read more

Publishing Agreement

Songwriters sign publishing deals for a variety of reasons, and the types of deals they can sign are multifaceted. A publishing deal can give the writer’s song... Read more
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A record is any medium on which recorded sound is transferred. Typically, the term is used to refer to a vinyl disc with recorded sound on it.

Record Label

Record labels are companies, large or small, that manufacture, distribute, and promote the recordings of affiliated musicians. Essentially, record labels work ... Read more

Recording Costs

Recording costs are the costs incurred by an artist during a recording session.


The concept of recoupment allows the record label to apply artist royalties against the advance until the royalties equal or “recoup” the advance. Recoupment c... Read more


Reserves are a certain amount of records or royalties which are withheld “off the top” from the artist by the record label to guard against the label paying ro... Read more


The retailers to which a distributor sells records sometimes have the right to “return” any unsold physical records to the distributor for full credit. The dis... Read more


RIAA stands for Recording Industry Association of America, a trade association that represents major record labels and distributors in the United States.


A ringtone is a sound recording that someone hears when called on a mobile device instead of the typical mobile phone ring. Typically, ringtones are clips of c... Read more

Royalty Base Price

Royalty Base Price is a term used by record labels typically referring to the wholesale price (PPD) less any distribution or packaging fees.
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Samples are pre-recorded sound recordings subject to copyright protection which are incorporated into a new sound recording with different copyright owners. Sa... Read more


The term “score” is used as a common alternative for “sheet music.” Several different types of scores exist: a score can refer to sheet music or to music writt... Read more

Sheet Music

Sheet music is the printed music of a single song with notes, arrangement, lyrics, chords, and other annotations used by composers to communicate notes, pitch,... Read more


A single is the shortest type of song release in playing time.

Sound Recording

A sound recording is the reproduction of sound waves into fixed form from which the contents can be heard or communicated again. The Copyright Act of 1976 defi... Read more


SoundExchange collects and distributes digital performance royalties from the use of sound recordings on behalf of more than 155,000 recording artists and mast... Read more


Soundscan is a company that tracks and publishes data from the sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Billboard uses ... Read more

Statutory Mechanical Rate

In the United States, the Copyright Royalty Board issues compulsory Mechanical Royalty rates, known as “statutory rates.” For physical sales/downloads, this ra... Read more

Sub-Publishing Agreement

A sub-publishing deal occurs when a publisher enters into an agreement with another publisher to administer and license copyrights from their writers in a fore... Read more

Subscription Services

A subscription service offers certain content in exchange for a periodic recurring fee (subscription). However, if the user stops paying the subscription, the ... Read more

Suggested Retail Price

The Suggested Retail Price of a CD or vinyl album is the price a Distributor “suggests” its retailers use when selling the music to an end consumer. As the nam... Read more

Synchronization License

Synchronization licensing is the process by which production companies of audiovisual works clear the rights for outside music to be used in their productions.... Read more
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Tour Manager

Tour managers are responsible for ensuring that an artist’s tour runs according to plan.

Tour Merchandising

Tour merchandising refers to the sale of an artist’s merchandise at a concert venue.

Tour Support

A record company will cover the expenses of a tour that exceed a tour’s revenue. Note, however, that tour support is almost always recoupable from artist royal... Read more


A trademark is any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination used to identify and distinguish between sources of a good/service.
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Venue refers to the place where a live performance occurs.
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Work Made For Hire

A work made for hire occurs when Party A employs Party B to create something, but Party A becomes the legal author of the work. In the eyes of the law, Party B... Read more
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