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Glossary of Terms

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Glossary starting with number
360 deal

360 Deal

A 360 deal is a type of agreement between an artist and a company (usually a record label) in the music business where the company supports the artist financially and operationally for various activities—offering recording advances, marketing, promotion, and touring support—in return for a percentage of the revenue earned from those activities. Also known as a multiple rights or shared rights deal.

A

Ad buy

Ad buying involves finding and purchasing the best placement for an ad in a specific media outlet such as a magazine, TV show, web site, etc. People who work in this discipline, often called media buyers, negotiate the best possible placement and pricing for an ad or an advertising campaign.

Advance

In a recording contract, the advance is a financial amount that the label gives to the artist prior to (that is, "in advance of") recording an album. The royalties collected from the artist’s recording are used to reimburse the record company for the advanced money.

Affiliate

An affiliate is a company that works with another company to achieve a common goal, such as distributing an album or producing merchandise.

analog

Analog

When referring to studio recording methods, analog means a type of audio signal. Natural sounds that we make in the world are “analog” because they create sound waves that are variations in air pressure. Analog recording stores these sound waves in a roughly similar format—for example, as a physical texture on a phonograph record, or a fluctuation in the field strength of a magnetic recording. See also the newer recording format, Digital.

Arrangement

In musical composition, a song consists of a series of musical notes. An arrangement is the set of musical charts that adapts those notes to a specific set of instruments and vocalists.

Artist & Repertoire

Artist & Repertoire

Often referred to as A&R, this is the department of a record label or publisher that focuses on finding and signing new artists, as well as maintaining relationships with established artists who are signed to deals with the company.

B

Baffle

A baffle is a piece of studio equipment used to block the flow of sound in a particular direction. An engineer might place a fabric-covered baffle between an instrument and a wall to prevent the instrument's sound from echoing off of that wall.

Beat

In musical composition, the beat is what gives music its regular rhythmic pattern. But within the music industry, a “beat” has also come to be known as a complete rhythm track fashioned by a producer: the drums, the bass line, or any range of other instruments, from guitars to horns and synthesizers. This term is used most often in hip-hop.

Branding

A brand is the specific identity projected by a company and its products, or by an artist and his or her music. Elements of a brand can include the name, products, design, logos, symbols, slogans, and other aspects that convey identity. Branding is the marketing process that establishes and maintains this sense of identity.

Bridge

In songwriting, the bridge is a section that departs from the regular verse and chorus. It’s a release of emotion that sets you up for the big ending. A bridge can be a breakdown that gets quieter, or a louder section, or one with a different emotional focus.

c

Charts

A chart is a form of musical notation that indicates to musicians what to play. Charts come in many styles, and can list chords, melodies, rhythms, structure, or all of these elements and more.

Chorus

In songwriting, the chorus is a section after the verse that usually repeats throughout the song. It is a climax that often includes the catchiest lyrics and melodies. Often, the chorus feels more powerful and emotional than other parts of the song.

Console

A mixing console, also known as a mixing board or mixer, is a piece of equipment that brings together sound from different sources. Cables connect microphones, amplifiers, and other sound sources to the console, where the recording engineer can control and blend them.

Control booth

In a recording studio, the control booth is the room where the tracking engineer controls the sound via the console. The control booth is soundproof so that the engineer can hear the sound coming through the console rather than the sound in the tracking room where the musicians play.

Copyright

Copyright is the legal framework that gives the creator of a work such as a song a range of exclusive rights that control the use and distribution of that work. In music, copyright ensures that, within certain limits, the owners of a musical work are compensated when their music is performed, recorded, printed, or distributed.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community.

Cue sheet

Cue sheets are documents that log which music is used in television, film, or other video productions such as advertisements. These documents list the length of the show and of the music, the type of usage, where/when in the show it occurred, the names of the composer and publisher, and affiliation with the PROs, among other information.

d

Digital

When referring to studio recording methods, digital refers to a type of audio signal. Digital formats convert the sound waves into a series of numbers, each number representing the air pressure at a particular time. Each number is called a sample, and the number of samples taken per second is the sample rate. Ultimately, the numbers will be converted back into sound by a digital to analog converter or DAC, connected to a loudspeaker. See also analog.

Digital download

A digital download is a file that transfers from one computer to another. If you buy a song on iTunes or Amazon, that is a legal, digital download of music in a certain format.

Distribution

Distribution is the act of transporting a final musical product, such as a song or an album, from the place where it’s produced to the consumer. Traditionally, this occurred with the help of distribution companies that shipped vinyl records, CDs, and cassette tapes from the manufacturer to record stores and other retail outlets. Today, this also involves digital distribution of music directly to the consumer via downloads.

e

Effects

Effects refers to the variety of ways musicians can change the sound of their music from delay to echo, from distortion to wah-wah, and a multitude of other options.

EP

An EP, or extended play, refers to an album release of typically three or four songs that is too short to be qualified as a full album.

g

Guarantee

A guarantee is a negotiated amount that a concert promoter agrees to pay an agent representing an artist for a concert appearance. The guarantee is agreed upon in advance to make it worthwhile for the artist to perform. Without a guarantee, artists are often paid via a door split, in which payment is divided amongst the artist, the venue, and the promoter based on the number of tickets sold.

i

Intellectual property

Intellectual property is a legal concept that gives written and/or recorded content certain defendable rights. Written works like songs qualify as intellectual property, which means that songwriters can use copyright law to protect the intellectual property of their songs.

Intro

In songwriting, the intro is the first section of the song. It introduces you to the music. Intros can take many different forms, including sometimes starting with the chorus.

Item-based collaborative filtering

Item-based collaborative filtering one method used to make recommendations to customers online. An online commerce site will use data based on what you bought in the past, or what you have in the cart, to recommend other things that you might like to purchase.

l

Lockdown studio rate

When recording in studios, artists or record companies pay by the amount of time spent in the studio. Usually, a studio has hourly and daily rates as well as a lockdown weekly rate. Lockdown means that no other artists will record in the studio during that time. By locking down time in a studio, artists or record companies can often secure a lower rate than the normal daily or hourly rate because there’s less breaking down, setting up, and tuning of equipment between sessions.

m

Marketing

The activities associated with promoting and selling products or services to customers. In the music business, these activities may include advertising, promotion, and publicity.

Mechanical royalties

When a song is licensed, its owners are entitled to a payment called a royalty. Mechanical royalties come into play when recorded music is reproduced in some form: CD, vinyl, digital downloads, ringtones, musical toys, etc. These royalties are paid to the songwriter and publisher based on the number of recordings sold or pressed.

o

Out-chorus

The out-chorus or outro is the final element of a song that the songwriter wants you to remember. Usually it’s a last chorus that is repeated so that it lingers in your memory.

p

Performance royalties

When a song is licensed, its owners are entitled to a payment called a royalty each time the song is played. Performance royalties occur when a song is broadcast or performed in public or through the web. For example, radio stations usually receive a license to play a song whenever they want, and a fixed royalty is paid to the songwriter and publisher each time the song is played.

Pre-chorus

In the structure of a song, the pre-chorus follows the verse, building excitement in anticipation of the chorus. The pre-chorus lets listeners know that a change is coming and that the next section will be the heart of the song’s melody and words.

Print rights

When a song is licensed, its owners are entitled to a payment called a royalty each time the song is played. Print rights refer to a song’s sheet music—that is, the entire song’s notes and lyrics represented on a musical scale. The songwriter and publisher are entitled to royalties when their sheet music is printed and sold.

Promotion

Promotion can mean different things in the music business. For example, in the context of live music, promotion refers to the process of putting together a concert or festival bill and advertising it to the public. At a record label, promotion refers to the process of getting a new song into the ears of listeners. For example, the promotion department at a record label works with radio stations (terrestrial, satellite, or online) to get airplay for an artist’s songs. The video promotion team is responsible for making an artist’s music videos available on MTV, Fuse, Vevo, and so on.

Publicity

Publicity involves building relationships with the press and promoting the artist to a range of entertainment publications both in and outside the music world. Publicity is often handled by a public-relations professional or firm whose PR duties also include crafting press releases, assembling press kits, booking TV and radio show appearances, and being the first point of contact for the media.

r

Remix

A recording that has been altered or recreated from its original version. Often songs are remixed for nightclub or radio release.

Rider

The rider is a list of requests from an artist that must be fulfilled by the time the artist appears at a venue. Riders focus on technical requirements, which specify the sound, lighting, and instrumental needs at the venue, and hospitality requests, which generally include but aren’t limited to food and beverages, accommodations, and other touring expenses.

Royalty

A royalty is a payment to the owner of a copyrighted work for the use of that work. In the music business, when a song is licensed for play on radio, in public spaces such as shopping malls and retail outlets, and so on, the copyright owner is entitled to a royalty payment each time the song is played.

s

Search Engine Optimization

Often referred to as SEO, this is the process of affecting the visibility a web site or web page so it appears earlier or higher in the results of a search engine like Google or Bing. SEO analyzes the actual search terms that people use, employs these keywords in strategic places throughout a web site, and arranges a web site so that search engines can easily collect this information from the site.

Shared rights deal

See 360 Deal.

Sheet music

The entire song’s notes and lyrics represented on a musical scale.

SoundScan

Nielsen Soundscan is an information and sales tracking system used to track the sales of music and music video products in the United States and Canada. It is considered the official sales information source in the music industry.

Synchronization royalties

When a song is licensed, its owners are entitled to a payment called a royalty each time the song is played. Synchronization royalties are earned when a song is played “in sync” with another form of media—for example, as a soundtrack to a TV commercial or movie.

t

Take

In the recording studio, a take is a recording of one particular element of the musical arrangement—a bass line, a guitar solo, a drum beat—or a single performance of a song with all the musicians playing together. Sometimes a recording requires many takes to get it right, and at other times a musician nails it on the first try.

Tracking room

In a recording studio, the tracking room is where the vocalists and musicians sing and play. Musicians might play all at once or focus on recording one instrument at a time. The outputs from the tracking room lead into the control booth, where the music is mixed and recorded.

v

Verse

In the structure of a song, the verse is like a chapter in a book: the element of a song that tells its story. Usually, a song includes at least two verses.

Vertical integration

This is a type of business structure in which a company owns holdings in different industries, enabling it to control the “pipeline” that manufactures and delivers its products. In the music industry, the major record companies are all vertically integrated to varying extents. When a single vertically integrated company owns music labels, film-production studios, consumer-electronics manufacturers, and video-game companies, it can move a key song between these areas for promotional purposes.