If you're an artist looking to navigate the music industry, understanding the terminology is crucial. The music business has its own language, and being knowledgeable about the key terms can help you make informed decisions and communicate effectively with industry professionals.
This comprehensive guide has compiled a list of essential music industry terms that every artist should know. Let's dive in!
1. A&R (Artist and Repertoire)
The A&R department of a record label is responsible for discovering and signing new talent. A&R representatives seek out promising artists and negotiate deals on behalf of the label. They play a vital role in shaping an artist's career and act as the primary liaison between the label and the artist.
Advances are pre-payments given to artists by record labels or publishers. These funds are often used to cover recording costs or other expenses. Advances are recoupable, meaning they need to be paid back from the artist's future earnings before any profit can be made.
3. EPK (Electronic Press Kit)
An EPK is a digital promotional package that contains essential information about an artist. It typically includes a biography, promotional images, music samples, videos, and social media links. Artists use EPKs to showcase their work and attract the attention of industry professionals.
4. Mechanical License
A mechanical license grants the right to reproduce and distribute a copyrighted musical composition. This license is necessary if you want to cover someone else's song or release your own version of a copyrighted work. Mechanical royalties are paid to the copyright owner for each copy of the song that is made.
5. Performance Rights Organization (PRO)
PROs are organizations that collect and distribute performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. They monitor and license the public performance of musical works, such as when a song is played on the radio, performed live, or streamed online. Some well-known PROs include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
6. 360 Deal
A 360 deal is a contract between an artist and a record label that covers multiple revenue streams beyond recorded music. In addition to royalties from music sales and streaming, the label may also receive a percentage of income from touring, merchandise, endorsements, and other sources.
A catalog refers to a collection of an artist's recorded works, including albums, EPs, and singles. It represents the body of an artist's musical output and is often used as a reference for licensing, promotion, and archival purposes.
8. Publishing Agreement
A publishing agreement is a contract between a songwriter and a music publisher. It grants the publisher the right to exploit and administer the songwriter's compositions, collect royalties, and negotiate licenses on their behalf. Publishing agreements can be co-publishing deals, where the songwriter retains a percentage of the publishing rights, or administration deals, where the publisher handles the administration but doesn't own any copyrights.
Mastering is the final step in the music production process. It involves optimizing the sound of a recording to ensure it translates well across different playback systems. Mastering engineers use various techniques to enhance the overall sonic quality, balance the frequencies, and apply the appropriate level of compression and limiting.
10. Sync License
A sync license grants the right to synchronize a musical composition with visual media, such as film, television, advertisements, or video games. This license allows the music to be used as part of the audiovisual experience and is a significant source of revenue for artists and songwriters.
Now that you're familiar with these essential music industry terms, you'll be better equipped to navigate the complex landscape of the music business.
Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding the terminology will help you make informed decisions and communicate effectively with industry professionals.
Keep learning, stay informed, and continue to refine your craft. The music industry is waiting for your talent to shine!