Have you ever been baffled by a strange name or reference in a conversation but been too embarrassed to ask just what the heck it meant? Well don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The fact is we can’t all know everything about everything right?

Here is a list of general music industry slang or technical jargon you might come across in the industry, if you’re looking for lists of Organisations, Companies, Festivals or other various industry related areas, you’ll find a whole bunch of equally long lists right here.

 

AAC (Advanced Audio Coding )

A standardised compression and encoding scheme for digital audio designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates. AAC is also the default or standard audio format for YouTube, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, iTunes, DivX Plus Web Player and PlayStation 3, AAC has also seen some adoption on in-dash car audio especially on high-end units such as the Pioneer AVIC series.

ABR (Average Bit Rate)

Also known as simply ‘Bit rate’ this term refers to the average amount of data transferred per unit of time, usually measured per second, commonly for digital music or video. An MP3 file, for example, that has an average bit rate of 128 kbit/s transfers, on average, 128,000 bits every second.

Actual Damages (aka Compensatory Damages)

Actual damages (sometimes called ‘Compensatory damages’) generally given to reimburse the victim’s economic losses for an examples of compensatory damages might involve lost wages / earnings as well as potentially expenses incurred as a result of the offense or event that created the problem. In the music world this might apply more commonly to piracy or other losses incurred by fraud or incompetence by an agent, label, manager etc. The specific amount of money lost by the victim is reimbursed by actual or compensatory damages.

To be distinguished from Statutory Damages.

Artists and Repertoire (A&R)

A&R is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and/or songwriters. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label or publishing company, in fact every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the purview of and responsibility of A&R.

Administration Deal

A legal agreement between the copyright owner and another party to undertake the administration of a song (or songs, or entire song catalogue) for a specified period. The administrator might usually be a music publisher, lawyer or accountant and undertake such functions as filing relevant documentation, registering copyrights, collecting royalties and negotiating third party licenses such as synchronization licenses. Generally, fees for administration are negotiated as a percentage of income ranging between 10% -20%.

Advance

The payment made in advance of royalties to be earned in the future, recouped by offsetting such future royalties paid against moneys earned. Usually paid by publishers or Performing Rights Societies, advances are not normally refundable.

All In

Usually refers to a delivery commitment for which all services or rights a bundled into one fee, such as, for example a Composer would deliver the score in final format to the producer for a single ‘all-in’ fee

AMV Video

AMVs are Anime Music Video files. These highly compressed files are commonly used on portable media devices, and saved at resolutions just large enough to fit small media player screens. The only available programs that can read AMV files are the software that come as standard with the media players. If you would like to make an AMV file work with additional programs, it is possible to convert an AMV file into a more common file type, such as AMV to AVI, AMV to MPEG, AMV to WMV, AMV to MP4, AMV to 3GP.

Analogue / Analogue Format

Analogue format recording methods store signals as a continual wave in or on the media. The wave might be stored as a physical texture on a phonograph record, (a ‘vinyl’) or a fluctuation in the field strength of a magnetic recording (on ‘tape’). This is different from digital recording of which among many possibilities include digital audio and digital video, which digital signals are represented as data or discrete numbers.

Arranger

The individual who takes a composition and decides the arrangement of a musical piece, such as which instrument will play what part, where it will fit into the piece etc. within a recording or live performance. Aside from artistic reasons an arranger would arrange the music specific to the artist, band or orchestra that will perform it.

Artists & Repertoire (A&R)

A&R is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and/or songwriters. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label or publishing company, in fact every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the purview of and responsibility of A&R.

 

Assignment of Copyright

The transfer of copyright ownership from one party to another. Such agreement must always be undertaken by contract . (See Contracts)

Audio Home Recording Act

Part of the Copyright Act providing for royalties to be paid to songwriters, publishers, recording companies and artists for the importation and manufacture of digital audio recordings such as CDs tapes etc.

Audio Visual (AV)

Describes an audio component included within a film, television show or other visual production. If music is included within such production a synchronization license will be required.

Audit Clause

Used in various agreements allowing (usually annual) access for to specified and/or relevant company books and records, so that the copyright owning party can validate the accounting claims of the contracted party.

Author

Specifically the ‘creator’ of a piece of work, such as music, lyrics, literature, drama, choreography etc. See also Work For Hire

Automatic Renewal

Refers to copyrighted work. Works copyrighted between 1964 and 1977 are granted automatic renewal by the Copyright Act without the necessity of filing a Renewal of Copyright. Earlier copyrights were not covered by this.

See also Extended Renewal Term

AV (Audio Visual)

Describes an audio component included within a film, television show or other visual production. If music is included within such production a synchronization license will be required.

Average Bit Rate (ABR)

Also known as simply Bit Rate’ this term refers to the average amount of data transferred per unit of time, usually measured per second, commonly for digital music or video. An MP3 file, for example, that has an average bit rate of 128 kbit/s transfers, on average, 128,000 bits every second.

Back-End Deal

Also called ‘Royalty free Music’, this term describes music which can be used in audio-visual works without a synchronization license or fee. Income is still generated but only from the performance of the music (listed in the cue sheets).

Background Instrumental

A term used in cue sheet preparation describing an underscore or non-visual (off-camera) instrumental source during a scene.

Background Vocal

A term used in cue sheet preparation describing the use of a non-visual (off-camera) vocal source such as a singer performing off screen during a scene.

Background Music

A term used in cue sheet preparation describing the use of music to create a mood in order to support and enhance the dialogue.

Background Score

A composition by a composer created specifically for a client such as a TV show or film. A score could also be a group of songs used as a background score for an audio/visual work.

Bit Rate

Also known as Average Bitrate (ABR) this term refers to the average amount of data transferred per unit of time, usually measured per second, commonly for digital music or video. An MP3 file, for example, that has an average bit rate of 128 kbit/s transfers, on average, 128,000 bits every second.

Blanket License

A license, usually paid annually to performing rights organisations (such as BMI) allowing a music user, typically a TV network or radio station, to play or perform compositions covered under the license without a limit on use. Production Libraries often use blanket licenses with television, film, and radio stations.

 

Bootlegging

The unauthorized recording and selling of a song.

Breakdown Notes (also called Timing Notes)

Notes an editor makes detailing timing for scenes for the composer to use to reference cues that have been spotted in a spotting session. The notes often contain other reference items such as dialogue, camera moves and sync code.

Bumper(s)

Short pieces of music before and/or after commercials both on radio and in audio visual works. A term also used to describe short music cues during an action scene.

 

Catalog / Catalogue

The term catalogue is usually used to reference a collection of songs owned by a publisher or songwriter.

 

Clearance Houses

A potential licensor may use a Clearing House to obtain the legal rights necessary to use the composition. The clearing house is responsible for getting all the necessary legal rights for a licensor (e.g. a TV show or film) to use the music.

Click Track

A digital pulse or signal used to help musicians stay in time with an exact beat/tempo while they record.

Clipping

A form of distortion, a signal or amplifier overload

Closing Theme

A cue sheet and licensing term to indicate the music is used with the end titles.

 

Collaboration

The act of working with another party(ies) to create something, usually in order to complete a task that cannot be done alone. In musical terms a typical example would be the joining together of songwriter and lyricist.

See our PitchMyStuff.com Collaboration Suite

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages (sometimes called ‘Actual damages’) generally given to reimburse the victim’s economic losses for an examples of compensatory damages might involve lost wages / earnings as well as potentially expenses incurred as a result of the offense or event that created the problem. In the music world this might apply more commonly to music piracy or other losses incurred by fraud or incompetence by an agent, label, manager etc. The specific amount of money lost by the victim is reimbursed by actual or compensatory damages.

To be distinguished from Statutory Damages.

Composer(s)

The person or persons who create musical compositions for motion pictures and other audio Visual works.  Also the creator of classical music compositions.

Compression

Downward compression reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold while quiet sounds remain unaffected, whilst alternately Upward compression increases the loudness of sounds below a threshold while leaving louder passages unchanged. Both downward and upward compression reduce the dynamic range of an audio signal.

Compulsory Mechanical License

A license provided under copyright law allowing the recording of a musical work that has previously been legally recorded and can be obtained without having to obtain the copyright holder’s permission (thereby “compulsory”) but still requires the payment of a licensing fee. This fee was set by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel with a statutory mechanical royalty rate of ‘X’¢ per song for each track on a CD or download, or ‘X.XX’¢ each minute of playing time, whichever is greater.

Co-Publishing Agreement

A legal agreement between a songwriter(s) and publisher(s) wherein the publishing rights are co-owned. The control of the song is determined by which publisher/publishing company controls the administration. In the case of a co-published /co-administrated song, a licensee would need to contact each of the respective publishers to obtain a license. See also Split Publishing

Control (Administrative Control)

The Administrating Publisher has the sole right to authorize the grant of licenses, for mechanical, print and synchronization rights on behalf of itself and the writer and receives the writer’s share of income for all income streams except the writer’s share of performance income which is collected by the Performing Rights Societies such as BMI, ASCAP, SESAC etc. and paid directly to the writer.

Controlled Composition

Some artist contracts contain a controlled composition clause that applies to musical works written and “controlled” by the artist. The record company considers these songs included on a CD a controlled composition and as per the clause pays the publisher of the artist’s work a reduced rate (normally 75% of the Statutory Rate). The record company can also stipulate a maximum number of musical compositions (e.g. 12) on which it will pay mechanical royalties even if the CD contains more than that number of tracks.

Copy Protection

A term referring to methods used to control or restrict the use of digital media content on electronic devices, such as CDs, DVDs etc. Also referred to as Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Copyright

The exclusive legal right, for a stated period which is generally 70 years after the death of the surviving author of the work, for the control of the copyright works.

Click here to see how PitchMyStuff.com can protect your copyright easily and inexpensively.

 

 

Copy Protection

Also referred to as Digital Rights Management (DRM), a term referring to methods used to control or restrict the use of digital media content on electronic devices, such as CDs, DVDs etc.

 

Cue

An individual musical fragment intended to be used in a motion picture or TV/radio show episode. The musical fragment may be part of a sequence of cues intended to segue without interruption between them. Cues used for underscoring can be used behind dialog, or to score visual action.

Cue Sheet

A detailed listing, usually prepared by the producer of the TV program or film, of each piece of music to be used in a film or television production listed by title, composer, publisher, timing, and type of usage. The document must be filed with the performing rights societies.

Cross Collateralization

A term used in contracts allowing a party to collect royalties from a composition (or contract) and apply the income against the un-recouped advance balance of another song or contract. For example a record company who owned the publishing rights to an artist’s songs could use income from artist’s publishing income against the un-recouped advance from a recording contract.

Derivative Work

A new version of an existing work such as a translation, musical arrangement etc. Only the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to prepare derivative works based on that copyright including the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create a new version of that work.

Digital Distribution

Digital distribution, within a music industry context, refers to the on-line access to music commonly known as downloadable content which may be streamed or downloaded.

Did you know The Music Site can digitally distribute your music and collect your music sales royalties for you? Click here to learn more.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Part of the copyright act that implements two international treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty. It also outlaws the manufacture of, or “trafficking” in, technologies capable of circumventing “technical protection measures” used to restrict access to copyrighted works and creates limits of the liability for copyright infringement of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under certain conditions, as well as addresses other matters.

Digital Sampler (aka Sampler)

A type of synthesize with actual recorded sounds that are stored in computer memory.

Digital Audio

Modern online music distribution depends on digital recording and data compression. Digital audio refers to technology that records, stores, and reproduces sound by encoding an audio signal in digital form instead of analogue form. Conversion to a digital format allows convenient manipulation, storage, transmission and retrieval of an audio signal.

Direct License

A license obtained directly from the copyright owner or publisher where the Performing Rights are paid directly to the copyright owner by the Licensee. With a Direct License, no royalties are collected by, or paid to, the Performing Rights Organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, SECAC etc.

Digital Download

An encoded file of music such as MP3, ACC, MP4 obtained via the Internet from digital music stores, peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, and other medium. The download may or may not have copyright protection (DRM).

Digital / Digital Format

Modern online music distribution depends on digital recording and data compression. Digital audio refers to technology that records, stores, and reproduces sound by encoding an audio signal in digital form instead of analogue form. Conversion to a digital format allows convenient manipulation, storage, transmission and retrieval of an audio signal.

Digital Rights

With the advent of the internet an additional set of royalties has come into play to secure income from internet downloading and all web interactivity such as simulcasting, webcasting, streaming, and online on-demand service.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Digital Rights Management is a term referring to methods used to control or restrict the use of digital media content on electronic devices, such as CDs, DVDs etc. Also referred to as Copy Protection.

Digital Phonorecord Delivery (DPD)

The delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording which results in a specifically identifiable reproduction by or for any transmission recipient of a phonorecord of that sound recording. A download from iTunes is considered a DPD.

DMCA (Digital Millenium Recording Act)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as Digital Rights Management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.

Downloading

Downloading content (such as music) refers to the activity of accessing and saving the chosen media typically to a storage device such as a hard drive or other form of storage, unlike Streaming which involves only the temporary access and use of musical content “on-demand” as /when it is needed.

Downward Compression

Downward compression reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold while quiet sounds remain unaffected. Both downward and upward compression reduce the dynamic range of an audio signal. See also Upward compression.

DPD (Digital Phonorecord Delivery)

The delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording which results in a specifically identifiable reproduction by or for any transmission recipient of a phonorecord of that sound recording. A download from iTunes would be considered a DPD.

Dramatic Rights

Also known as Grand Rights or Dramatic Performance is the term used in connection with Musicals, Operas, Ballets, and other dramatic performances where the use of a musical composition is used to tell a story or as part of a story or plot, as distinguished from ‘Small Rights’. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to issue licenses and collect fees for grand rights.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Also referred to as Copy Protection, a term referring to methods used to control or restrict the use of digital media content on electronic devices, such as CDs, DVDs etc.

 

Ephemeral Use

Describes a use of music in media without a license such as in live TV when it allows music to be used one time in a specific context without a payment to the publisher or master rights holder, such as half time music at a sports event. Its use is still logged as if they were licensed and filed with the respective PROs but no payment generated.

Exclusive Rights

In contractual terminology, exclusive rights would ensure the party buying the specific right(s) enjoys the benefit of exclusivity, thereby excluding the owner of said item or service to legally take contract with any other parties for the same item or service.

Exclusive Songwriter Agreement

A contract between the songwriter(s) and publisher(s) in which controlling interest to the contracted songs written during the term of the contract are, for a fee, assigned to the publisher. Issues such as the term of the agreement, other songs to be included (back-catalogue), reversion rights, the amount of the advance, and what percentage of royalty income the songwriter will receive are all negotiable points. Such agreements usually involve advances paid b y the publisher to the songwriter(s).

Expander

An expander performs the opposite function to Downward Compression and Upward Compression, increasing the dynamic range of the audio signal. Expanders are generally used to make quiet sounds even quieter by reducing the level of an audio signal that falls below a set threshold level.

Exploitation

In music publishing, exploitation refers to encouraging the licensing and commercial exploitation of particular composition, such as arranging for an artist to record your song and then having it placed on television show.

Extended Renewal Term

The term of copyright for works registered under the 1909 Copyright Act was extended under the 1976 Copyright Act and subsequent amendments so that copyrights, if renewed, will be protected for 95 years which is an additional 39 years over the original copyright. Under the 1909 copyright law the term of copyright was two 28-year terms, or a total of 56 years.

Favored Nations Clause

See MFN Clause

Fair Use

Fair Use is a doctrine that might allow limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from or payment to the rights holders. Even if a work is found to be an unauthorized derivative, an alleged infringer might escape liability via the defence of ‘fair use’.

Featured Work

To be ‘featured work’ for example on television. the main focus of audience attention must be on the vocalist / instrumentalist during the performance who must be on camera except where the music is used as part of a choreographic routine that constitutes the main focus of attention. On radio, a performance that is the sole sound broadcast at the time of the performance

 

 

Hitchhike

A term used to describe a type of musical cue used as a tag or musical signature following a TV program. It is often used to highlight the production company or distribution company which distributed the program.

Hold

When a song is placed on hold by a recording company the publisher will not show or play the song for other artists, hence the term “I’ve got a song on hold”.

In Context Use

A cue sheet and licensing term indicating that the music can only be used in the context for which it was licensed so precluding the music from being used for other purposes such as a Film Trailer (unlike Out Of Context Use)

Infringement

A violation of the exclusive rights granted by the copyright law to a copyright owner

In Perpetuity

In Perpetuity means that the rights to a song remain with the rights holder for the full life of the copyright.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognized in law. Owners of IP are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works, discoveries and inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs.

Interactive Streaming

A one-way audio transmission over a data network which the user can identify and play at will a unique recording they wish to listen to which, with simple Streaming, the audio data is not stored on the destination computer.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

The unique international identifier for tracks on sound and music-video recordings. Consisting of a 12 character alpha-numeric code the ISRC functions as a digital “fingerprint” for each track. The ISRC remains allocated to a track regardless of changes in ownership. It is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy safeguards in the digital arena.

International Standard Work Code (ISWC)

The unique number that which will be assigned to a musical composition to assist in electronic identification of performances.

ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)

The unique international identifier for tracks on sound and music-video recordings. Consisting of a 12 character alpha-numeric code the ISRC functions as a digital “fingerprint” for each track. The ISRC remains allocated to a track regardless of changes in ownership. It is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy safeguards in the digital arena.

ISWC (International Standard Work Code)

This is the unique number that which will be assigned to a musical composition to assist in electronic identification of performances.

Key-Man Clause

A contractual clause used in many business scenarios, in music an example would be one that allows the songwriter to terminate his exclusive songwriter agreement in the event that a key person, named in the agreement, leaves the band.

Lead Sheet

A reproduction on paper of a musical composition, usually hand-made.

LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)

A component within an electronic keyboard that sweeps back and forth in a particular waveform shape at a very slow rate of speed, used to create continuous (periodic) change to the volume, pitch, or timbre of a sound

Library

The term library is usually used in connection with Production Music Companies denoting a collection of musical compositions that are licensed by the publisher or administrator for use as background, theme, or score music, on radio, broadcast and cable television, films, or video productions. The library is usually offered under a Blanket License

License / Music License

A license grants a user permission to use copyrighted work for Mechanicals (such as records, tapes, CDsetc.) Non-Dramatic Performance (such as public performance of a song over radio, TV, in clubs or hotels, concerts etc.) Grand Rights (such as dramatic performance of a musical work, musical comedy, play, opera, operetta, or ballet), Synchronization (which is the use of a musical composition on the soundtrack of an audio/visual work for theatrical exhibition or television), Print (as in sheet music, folios, songbooks or other printed editions, and Commercials (such as the use of a musical composition as part of an advertisement).

Linear Use

Linear Use describes when music is licensed and used in a specific manner without changing the arrangement or sound elements. Film & TV licenses are most often linear.

Logs

Schedules prepared by radio and television stations for performing rights organizations such as BMI indicating by title, writer and artist all music performed on the station during a particular time period. Used as a basis for payment to writers and publishers

Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO)

A component within an electronic keyboard that sweeps back and forth in a particular waveform shape at a very slow rate of speed, used to create continuous (periodic) change to the volume, pitch, or timbre of a sound

Master Recording (or Master)

A completed original recording of a song from which multiple copies are made.

Master Tone

A Master Tone (also known as True Tone) is a ringtone using audio versus midi information to reproduce the song. Since it is considered a master, there are payments to both the publisher and master rights holder.

Master Use License

A license from the owner of the master recordings allowing for the reproduction and distribution of the master recordings. In audio/visual productions, media companies must obtain a Master Use license for the sound recording and a Publishing license for the composition.

 

Mechanical License aka ‘Mechanical Rights’

The licensing of copyrighted musical compositions for use on CDs, records, tapes, and certain digital configurations. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CD’s and tapes.

Mechanical Royalties

Refers to royalty income  from sale of physical format music (typically compact discs) but the scope is much wider and covers any copyrighted audio composition that is rendered mechanically (that is without human performers), such as taped recordings, DVDs, ringtones, MIDI files, computer games, music videos and even musical toys.

MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface)

Musical Instrument Digital Interface is an industry standard interface used on electronic keyboards and PCs for computer control of instruments and devices.

Most Favoured Nations

Commonly used in the entertainment industry, an MFN clause protects for example an established salary or royalties rate whereby no one else may be paid more than the contracted party, or in the event that this occurs, the contracted party will receive suitable remuneration to compensate.

MP3

Correctly named MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, but commonly referred to as MP3. A patented encoding format for digital audio using a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on most digital audio players.

MP4

Commonly used to store digital video and digital audio streams especially those defined by MPEG, but can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Like most modern container formats, MPEG-4 allows streaming over the Internet. Some devices advertised as ‘MP4 Players’ are simply MP3 Players that also play AMV video or some other video format but do not necessarily play the MPEG-4 part 14 format.

Multimedia License

A license for multiple kinds of media such as Computer Games, CD-ROM, and Karaoke.

Music Clearance

Music that is synchronized with moving pictures requires a license, commonly referred to as ‘getting the music cleared’. Production companies using music in a film or TV program must contact the rights holders of that music, usually the publisher of the underlying copyright and the owner of the Master Recording.

Music License / License Fees

A license grants a user permission to use copyrighted work for Mechanicals (such as records, tapes, CDsetc.) Non-Dramatic Performance (such as public performance of a song over radio, TV, in clubs or hotels, concerts etc.) Grand Rights (such as dramatic performance of a musical work, musical comedy, play, opera, operetta, or ballet), Synchronization (which is the use of a musical composition on the soundtrack of an audio/visual work for theatrical exhibition or television), Print (as in sheet music, folios, songbooks or other printed editions, and Commercials (such as the use of a musical composition as part of an advertisement).

Music Supervisor

More commonly referred to as Music ‘Sup’, someone who chooses and consults with the production company to acquire the music, songs, and scoring for a film or TV show. The director of the film usually has the final creative say on which piece of music is finally chosen.

 

Nielsen BDS

Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems collects and detects song airplay data, used to inform many Billboard charts.

 

Non-Exclusive Rights

In contractual terminology, non-exclusive rights would ensure the party buying the specific right(s) does not benefit from exclusivity, thereby allowing the owner of said item or service to legally take contract with other parties for the same item or service.

Notice of Copyright

When publishing a work, or exposing it anywhere to external view or use, it is important to ensure the copyright is registered formally and that this registration is indicated clearly. Usually consisting of the globally recognised copyright symbol “©” or the word ‘Copyright’, in some cases the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner. Note: if a copyrighted work is listed without a notice it still maintains its copyright protection but in the event of an alleged infringement, proving your copyright (details dates etc.) is the important and difficult factor.

Click here to see how PitchMyStuff.com can protect your copyright easily and inexpensively.

Non-Linear

A Non-Linear use or Non-Linear license indicates that the user may manipulate the music digitally or otherwise. This option comes in to play especially with multimedia licenses such as games where elements of the song are moved around.

 

On-Demand

Online music stores that offer music streaming of full-length content over the Internet as a part of the service without the listener necessarily purchasing a file for download.

One-Off Agreement

See Single Song Contract

Opening Theme

The Opening Theme generally refers to a piece of music used in the opening title of a film or program and is considered a featured use. Synchronization fees for a featured use are generally paid at a higher rate

Out of Context Use

Used in music licensing to indicate that the music can be used in the production and may also be used in an advertisement for the production such as a film trailer. The music can be used when it is licensed “out of context” for scenes other than what it was originally placed. (unlike In Context Use)

P2P (Peer-to-peer file sharing)

Referred to in internet shorthand as ‘P2P’ this allows users to download media files such as music, movies, and games using a P2P software client that searches for other connected computers. The ‘peers’ are computer systems connected to each other through the Internet so the only requirements for a computer to join peer-to-peer networks are an Internet connection and P2P software.

Performing Arts (PA) Copyright Form

PA Forms are used to copyright a composition, registration of which establishes the legal owner and/or publisher of intellectual property for works such as musical compositions or the lyrics for a song.

Parody

A musical parody, a satirical imitation of a literary or musical piece of work, involves changing an existing recognized musical ideas or lyrics. Permission from the owner of the copyright is generally required before commercial exploitation of a parody. However the law has ruled in some cases that the parody was a ‘fair use’

Performing Rights

The right to perform music in public is part of copyright law and demands payment to the music’s composer/lyricist and publisher when a business uses music in a public performance. Examples of public performances are broadcast and cable television, radio, concerts, nightclubs, restaurants etc. When music is performed by a business they must obtain a license to use that music and compensate the author (composer and lyricist) and publisher, such income from these licenses is collected by the relevant Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) such as BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs)

Performing rights organizations issue licenses to users of publicly performed, non-dramatic music for a fee, and then pay performing rights royalties to the publishers and songwriters. There are more than 200 PRO’s throughout the world. The PRO’s utilize blanket licenses with radio stations, television stations, clubs, restaurants, stores, digital streaming services. The number of times a song is played is tracked and the pool of blanket license money is divided up in accordance to the number of plays and the value of those plays.

 

Per-Program License

Available from broadcasters from performing rights organisations (PROs) such as BMI in lieu of a blanket license. A per-program license bases its fee upon revenues from only those programs using music licensed by that organisation.

Phonorecord

The term used to describe the material object in which sounds, other than those on a soundtrack of an audio-visual work, are fixed and from which can be reproduced. Examples of Phonorecords are CD and cassette tapes.

Piracy

The illegal duplication and distribution of sound recordings, including unauthorized uploading of a copyrighted sound recording and making it available to the public, mix tapes, CD copying and selling material without authorization.

PRO (Performing Rights Organizations)

Performing rights organizations issue licenses to users of publicly performed, non-dramatic music for a fee, and then pay performing rights royalties to the publishers and songwriters. There are more than 200 PRO’s throughout the world. The PRO’s utilize blanket licenses with radio stations, television stations, clubs, restaurants, stores, digital streaming services. The number of times a song is played is tracked and the pool of blanket license money is divided up in accordance to the number of plays and the value of those plays.

 

Print Music

Music used in printed editions such as Sheet Music, Folios (i.e compilations of songs with a similar theme), Arrangements (for a particular instruments) and Concert Editions (collections of songs arranged for group performances)

Print License

Authorizes the sale of a composition in printed or digital form and is issued to a company that manufactures and distributes printed music. The manufacturer then pays a royalty to the songwriter or to his music publisher for each unit of sheet music and each folio that is sold.

Print Rights

The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to print sheet music, folios, band parts, and arrangements for specific instruments. When a songwriter assigns copyrights to a publisher this right is usually granted as well.

Production Music

Production music (also known as stock music or library music) is the name given to recorded music produced and owned by production music libraries and licensed to customers for use in film, television, radio and other media.

Public Domain Work (PD Work)

Refers to the status of having no copyright protection and is openly exposed within the ‘public domain’ and is available (intentionally or not) for unrestricted viewing or use and whereby permission and/or payment are not required for such use. Once a work falls into the public domain generally it can never be recaptured by the owner.

Publication

The copyright act in respect of musical publishing refers to Publishing as “the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending. The offering to distribute phonorecords to a group of persons for the purpose of distribution, public performance or public display constitutes publication, but simply performing a song in public does not constitute publication.

Publisher / Music Publisher

A person or company taking responsibility for administering, exploiting, protecting songs, scores, or compositions that they own, or control, or on behalf of others. If a writer controls their own publishing the term “self-published” is often used.

Publisher Share

The income for a composition is divided equally between a publisher and the songwriter(s). In the case of a single publisher, the publisher’s share would be 100%. In the case of multiple publishers the publisher’s share generally refers to the ownership interest of each respective publisher. If there is just one publisher, that publisher has administrative control.

Recapture of Rights

Under the Copyright Act and within certain conditions, a writer or one of the writer’s statutory heirs is allowed to recapture rights to a copyright previously granted to a publisher. If a writer or their heirs entered into an agreement assigning or licensing a renewal copyright before January 1, 1978, whatever rights were granted could be recaptured for the renewal term’s final 39 years.

 

Register of Copyrights

The Register of Copyrights has been responsible for creating the procedures and practices of the US Copyright Office and establishing standards for registration of US copyright. Increasingly responsible for setting or influencing US copyright policy, the register of Copyrights is responsible for administering rulemaking procedures and producing authoritative interpretations of some aspects of US copyright law and advising the Librarian of Congress.

Registration

A song must be registered with the author’s affiliated Performance Rights Organization (PRO) such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, so that the correct percentages of royalties are paid. The song must also be registered with publishers in foreign territories who will register the song with their local mechanical rights and performing rights societies.

Renewal of Copyright

In the U.S. Copyright Office, a registration by the author or the heirs (or their authorized agent) can be renewed for a second term of 67 years if it was a copyright originally registered prior to January 1st 1978. Works originally copyrighted prior to 1964 that were not renewed in their 28th year of copyright have fallen into the public domain. Works originally copyrighted between 1964 and 1977 are automatically renewed by statute, regardless of whether a renewal registration is made for them. The terms of copyright for works written on or after January 1, 1978 are generally the life of the author plus 70 years or 120 years from its creation (whichever comes first). See Automatic Renewal.

Reproduction Licence

A license authorising reproduction of musical works, granted by the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) on behalf of publishers and copyright owners in Canada.

 

Restoration of Copyright

The procedure by which the owner of a copyrighted work can have US copyright protection retroactively revived, provided that it originated in a foreign country that is a member of the Berne Convention or World Trade Organization and is still protected there, and that fell into the public domain in the U.S. because, among other reasons, it failed to comply with certain formalities that had been a part of US law Restoration is accomplished by filing a form GATT with the US Copyright Office.

Reversion Clause

A negotiated deal point contained in a Publishing contract which dictates that the rights to the song revert back to the songwriter after a specified period. The terms can vary on specific songs in the catalogue, for example a publisher may gain ownership or control of a title if they were successful in placing the song in a production or obtained a cover.

 

Royalties (Music Royalties)

Unlike other forms of intellectual property, music royalties have a strong linkage to individuals such as composers (score), songwriters (music) lyricists (lyrics) and even writers of musical plays, each of whom can enjoy the exclusive copyright to created music and can license it for performance independent of corporates. In music, royalties fall into five categories: Print Rights, Mechanical Royalties, Performance Royalties, Sync (synchronization) Royalties and more recently with the advent of the internet Digital Rights.

Royalty Free Music

This term describes music which can be used in audio-visual works without a synchronization license or fee. Income is still generated but only from the performance of the music (listed in the cue sheets). Also known as ‘Back-End Deal’.

Sampler (aka Digital Sampler)

A type of synthesize with actual recorded sounds that are stored in computer memory.

Sampling

The act of copying a portion of a sound recording whereby sound bytes are removed electronically from a master recording and through technological imitation placed within the context of another composition. Unauthorized sampling is considered a copyright infringement of the sound recording from which they were taken.

Score

Typically ‘score’ refers to music used or composed for an audio-visual work and used in synchronization with that work such as in film and television. The music is not licensed and is most often done as a ‘work for hire’ by the composer for the film/TV production company.

Score Supervisor

The person who oversees the recording of the score.

Self-Published

The publication of songs, music or lyrics by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established publisher. The author maintains responsibility and control of entire process including production, formats, designs, price, distribution, marketing & PR. The authors may decide to undertake al these processes or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services.

 

Simulcast

Simulcast (a contraction of ‘simultaneous broadcast’) is the broadcasting of programs or events across more than one medium, or more than one service on the same medium, at the same time. For example, Absolute Radio is simulcast on both AM and on satellite radio, and the BBC’s Prom concerts are often simulcast on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Television. Another application is the transmission of the original-language soundtrack of movies or TV series over local or Internet radio, with the television broadcast having been dubbed into a local language.

Single Song Agreement

A contract between a publisher and songwriter(s) where the songwriter assigns to the publisher the copyright in one particular song in return for a percentage of royalty income. Sometimes referred to as a ‘One-Off Agreement’.

Small Performing Rights (aka Small Rights)

A term used to describe the non-dramatic public performing rights that are represented by and licensed through the Performing Rights Organizations such as SESAC, BMI, and ASCAP, examples of ‘small’ performances would include individual music works on the radio and TV, hotels, restaurants etc. as distinguished from Dramatic Rights.

Song Plugger

The person that promotes songs to recording artists or for use in Film and Television. The terms of agreement between songwriter and song plugger are negotiated, the reward for the song pluggers’ positive results can be a fee, ownership rights in the copyright, or interest in the revenue from royalties.

Songwriter

Person who conceives and constructs the lyrics and music to create songs.

Songwriter/Publisher Contract

The agreement between the two parties that sets out the terms under which the composition(s) is transferred from the songwriter to the publisher, to include details of the share of subsequent incomes.

 

Sound Designer

The person who creates the sounds that are atmospheric and/or non-musical for a project.

Sound Recording

The copyrighted musical work that results from the fixation of sounds onto a phono record.

Source License

Within performing rights, Source Licence refers to a license granted by the copyright owner to the person, producer or organization being licensed to record or distribute the work, such as within a taped program, so that the performance of the recorded work needs no further license.

Source Music

A piece of music or a song used in the background of a film or TV show and generally refers to music the actor(s) can hear coming from a radio, jukebox, or party. More recently this can describe music that is really used as Score Music but is licensed as source music (with a sync license) in cases where there is no budget for a Score.

Sound Recording

A sound recording is a Master or Master Recording.

Spotting Session

A spotting session is a meeting with the composer and director/music supervisor to determine what type of music and where the music is placed in specific sections of a film. It is most often done when the film is at or near its final cut. There may be several spotting sessions done before the film is “locked”.

Split Publishing

When the publishing rights in a song are held by more than one publisher, each known as a ‘co-publisher’. See also Co-Publishing.

Staff Songwriter

A songwriter who has an exclusive agreement with a publisher.

Statutory Mechanical License Rate

The statute places a ceiling on the royalty a copyright owner can obtain from the sale of a composition contained on a CD or a download. This fee is set by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) and relates to any release from 2006 until 2013 after which it will be revisited and re-set.

Statutory Copyright

Copyright protection acquired by virtue of the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act.

Statutory Damages

A legal term to describe monetary damages a copyright owner can sue for in the case of infringement of his/her work. The amount of damages provided is at the discretion of the court Statutory damages are to be distinguished from actual damages.

Stinger (aka Sting)

A musical inflection or hit which accents an emotion, often used as an ending of a cue.

 

 

Streaming

A one-way audio transmission over a data network. The audio data is not stored on the destination computer. Streaming involves the use of musical content “on-demand” as it is needed, unlike downloading the content, typically to a storage device such as a hard drive or other form of storage.

Sub-Publishing

An agreement between the original publisher of a song (or catalogue) and a foreign publisher to license, exploit, and collect royalties for the song (catalogue) in the foreign publisher’s territory. Among other things, the agreement stipulates the term of the contract, the area or territory in which it applies and the percentage of royalties the sub-publisher is authorized to retain for its services.

Synchronization

The recording of a musical work onto the soundtrack of an audio/visual work, the song (or music) being synchronised with the images/action on the screen, hense the name.

Synchronization Licenses (aka Sync Rights)

The exclusive right of the copyright owner to authorize the recording of a musical work onto the soundtrack of an audio/visual work, the song (or music) being synchronised with the images/action on the screen, hence the name.

Synchronization Royalties

Money earned by a publisher, consequently divided with the songwriter, for the use of a song for which a synchronization license has been issued.

Temp Track (aka Temp Music)

This term refers to a piece of music that is placed in a film, television show etc. for which the rights have not been acquired. The temporary music is either licensed or replaced. Quite often publishers and library owners receive requests to replace the temp music with something that is more within budget.

Tethered Download

A tethered download refers to music normally received from a subscription service that cannot be burned onto a CD or transferred to a portable device. The file will be stored on your computer’s hard drive, but it is encoded so that it will no longer play once the subscription service is terminated.

Theme

A musical work used at the beginning and closing portions of a TV show or film or as a recurring piece of music throughout the show.

Timing Notes (aka Breakdown Notes)

Notes an editor makes detailing timing for scenes for the composer to use to reference cues that have been spotted in a spotting session. The notes often contain other reference items such as dialogue, camera moves and sync code.

True Tone

See Master Tone

Underscore

A score for a motion picture or television program (as opposed to the Main Title or End Credits Themes) usually used to mean the music is used under the dialog.

Upward Compression

Upward compression increases the loudness of sounds below a threshold while leaving louder passages unchanged whilst alternatively Downward compression reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold while quiet sounds remain unaffected. Both downward and upward compression reduce the dynamic range of an audio signal.

See also ‘Downward compression’.

Velocity

How MIDI represents the hardness affected to a note on a controller.

Video Buyout

A video buyout is a negotiated right included in a synchronization license which entitles the buyer (the Licensee) to pay the publisher (the Licensor) a flat fee for the use of a song verses a royalty paid per unit sold.

Video Rollover

An agreement by which the buyer /user agrees to pay the licencor a continuing fee, either in advance or based on sales. Each time a specific sales benchmark is reached, the fee is ‘rolled over’ i.e. it is paid again.

Visual Instrumental

A cue sheet designation meaning that an instrumental is being performed on-camera as a performance and is usually considered a featured use.

Visual Vocal

A cue sheet term indicating that a vocal is performed on-camera. This is usually considered a featured use.

Webcast

A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand. Essentially, webcasting is broadcasting over the Internet.

Work for Hire

A term used within the Copyright Act, a work for hire describes a composition that is prepared by an employee within the scope of his employment, and so where the employer is considered the author and owner of the work. Under this type of arrangement the writer will receive a fee for creating the copyright work. There are more current instances where the composer will accept a lesser up-front fee and in return will keep 50-100% of their publishing, rather than handing all or any of it over to the production company.

Writer Share

Represents the authorship of the song. Unless assigned or sold, the writer share remains the property of the author.