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Glossary of Terms

Music Publishing & Distribution

360 Deals

A 360 deal is found in many of today’s contracts between a record label and a recording artist and refer to the label’s efforts to obtain a share in all other rights and revenue streams related to the artist, in addition to the exclusive recording rights. Additional rights in a 360 deal may include name and likeness rights, touring rights, music publishing rights in songs written by the artist, and more.

6 Exclusive Rights of a Copyright

The six exclusive rights of a copyright include:

  1. To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords (physical or digital format);
  2. To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  3. To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  4. In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
  5. In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly;
  6. In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.




A new arrangement made from, or inspired by an original composition.

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 duties of the publisher remain the same. The administrator usually provides administrative services only and does not offer any creative services. Other such agreements include co-publishing, work-for-hire, and exclusive songwriter agreements.


Responsible for managing the revenue and copyright matters for a song or catalog of songs. An administrator’s primary role is to protect song copyrights, collect royalties, issue licences and ensure that songwriters are paid accordingly. All major publishers and most independent ones handle administration for the catalogs they own and control internally. Smaller publishers and many individual songwriters who do not want to sell their copyrights sign deals with companies that focus exclusively on providing administration services without taking an ownership interest. (Also see: Administration Deals)


An advance is a type of loan that serves as income for the artist or songwriter as they write & record songs, and wait for royalties to generate revenue. These advances are essentially investments only. In the case of recording artists, the label is investing in the artist by paying upfront so the artist can record, perform, and tour yet still pay their bills. Advances can also include the costs incurred by the artist before royalties begin rolling in. These advances must be paid back to the label. (Also see: Recoupment)


Affiliation means becoming a member of certain organisations or societies and granting them a number of responsibilities with regards to Music Business. These include licensing, tracking, and protecting your songs’ use, authorizing other societies, through reciprocal agreements. It can also mean licencing rights to your songs on your behalf, and of course, paying royalties out to you, the Composer.


A company that provides the service of collecting and organising your music; usually for online digital distribution (i.e.: TuneCore,, DistroKid, etc.) – (Also see: Digital Service Providers – DSP)


The Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) primary focus is to educate and inform music publishers about the most current industry trends and practices. The AIMP was formed in 1977, in Los Angeles.

Album Cycle

This 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 marketing activities for that album or the start of the artist’s next album.


The Australasian Music Publishers’ Association Limited (AMPAL) is the industry association for Australian and New Zealand music publishers, and works on behalf of its members and their songwriter and composer partners to promote the importance and value of music and music publishing in Australia and New Zealand – both culturally and economically.


The Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and The Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) is a Copyright Management organisation, or Collection Society, which jointly represent composers and publishers in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

A & R Department

The Artist and Repertoire (A&R) department of a record label has the responsibilities of finding new talent and convincing the label to sign them. When A&R representatives find talent deemed worthy of a record deal, they lead negotiations between the label and the prospective artist. A&R employees usually develop a relationship with the particular artist or band they sign, and serve as the primary liaison between the artist and the label.


The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) is a trade group representing the Australian recording industry which was established in 1983 by six major record companies, EMI, Festival, CBS, RCA, WEA and Universal replacing the Association of Australian Record Manufacturers (AARM) which was formed in 1956.


The preparation and adaptation of an originbal musical composition for presentation in other than its original form. The detailed instructions for how instruments, sounds and voices are to be used. The arrangement dictates what is played, when it is played and how it is played. This can include a new and distinctly unique version of a Public Domain musical work. (Also see: Public Domain)


The creator of an artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical work.

Australian Copyright Council (ACC)

The Australian Copyright Council (ACC) is an independent, non-profit organisation. Founded in 1968, they represent the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies. Unlike in the US, one does not have to register a work with the ACC in the case of an infringement matter. Simply being able to produce tangible evidence of an original, with a legitimate date stamp of when the works was created, is sufficient in a court of law in Australia.


Black Box Royalties

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 Licences

Blanket licenses are a type of licence allowing one to use all the compositions covered under a particular agreement with no limit on use for one payment (usually made annually). Most commonly referred to as licences issued by performing rights organizations (PRO) to licencees (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.) who wish to use the entire catalog of a PRO.

Broadcast Mechanical

When a song or musical composition is played on television, excluding live performances, two specific rights are triggered, being the performing rights and the mechanical rights.

Bundled Services

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

Business Manager

A music business manager usually handles an artist or songwriter’s finances and other logistics, typically without involving their personal lives.



In America, CAE refers to Composer, Author and Publisher. This 9-digit number is used to uniquely identify a songwriter or publisher. CAE numbers are also referred to as IPI (Interested Parties Information) numbers. The CAE system was replaced by the IPI system, the new industry standard, in 2001, but the two are often used interchangeably. Rightsholders are assigned CAE/IPI numbers when they are granted membership to a PRO. You can find the CAE/IPI of an affiliated songwriter or publisher by performing a repertory search at ASCAP or BMI. Your CAE number is not the same as your ASCAP member ID or BMI account number.


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 type of publishing agreement whereby two or more publishers will share in the ownership of a copyright for a specific work or body of works, or a publisher will share the rights with the composer(s) for the same reasons. Typically, one publisher will have full administration rights. This type of publishing agreement often applies in cases where the composer is a songwriter, recording artist and/or producer.


A co-writer is any person that works on or contributes to a work, in addition to another person’s efforts. This can be on either the lyrics or the notes. It is common when writing songs, as songwriters, artists and/or producers often work together to come up with the lyrics.

Collapsed Copyright

A term used to signify that the creator owns and controls their own copyrights in both their musical works and the master sound recordings.

Collection Societies

These are organisations responsible for the tracking, collection, and payment of earned royalties to copyright owners from around the world or domestically. This is a blanket term to refer to all organisations, individually they are referred to as either performing rights organisations (i.e. APRA) or collective management organisations (i.e. PPCA).

Collective Management Organization

An international organisation that operates similarly to Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) in Australia in that they register, track, and collect royalties earned, and pay out the writer’s share of performance royalties to rights owners (i.e. APRA). Some will also collect mechanical royalties earned. Each society’s terms and restrictions differ by territory.

Commercially Satisfactory

An album 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 of albums.

Compilation Album

A compilation album contains various recordings featuring multiple artists.


The creator of a musical works and/or melody, that can include lyrics.

Composition (Underlying Composition)

The intellectual content of a musical work: the musical content and any accompanying lyrics. This does not refer to the actual recording of a musical work.

Compulsory License

An exception to copyright law that grants permission to anyone wishing to use your work, whether or not you want to grant the licence. Compulsory licences must be issued for use in cable television re-broadcast, on Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS), in jukeboxes, for digital performance of records and as phonorecords and digital recordings. The latter are referred to as compulsory mechanical licences.

Compulsory Mechanical License

An exception to copyright law that grants permission to anyone wishing to re-record a song that has already been commercially released. For example, if you (or anyone else) wanted to re-record a version of “Nothing Else Matters” (or any other song that has been commercially released), you would not need explicit permission from the Metallica’s publisher, so long as they were paid at least the statutory rate (the royalty rate as defined by copyright laws) of 9.1¢ per song for each copy sold.

Controlled Composition

A clause mainly concerned with North American recording contracts are generally defined as being works owned or controlled by the recording artist. Some record companies try to expand the definition to include songs the recording artist does not own or control. In any event, the songwriter usually agrees to a reduced mechanical royalty rate (usually 75% of the current rate), if the songs on an album are composed by the artist themselves.

Controlled Composition Clause

A controlled composition clause affects the mechanical royalties paid on a composition that is co-written by the recording artist. The controlled composition clause in a recording contract places a limit on how much the label is required to pay for songs in which the artist is also the songwriter.


A copyright grants protection under the law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression. Copyright protection affords the composer six exclusive rights which roughly correspond to various licensing processes and revenue streams:

  • The right to reproduce the work
  • The right to create a derivative work, meaning an adapted work that is directly based on the copyrighted work
  • The right to publicly distribute copies of the copyrighted work through sale or for free
  • The right to publicly perform the artistic work
  • The right to publicly display the artistic work
  • For sound recordings: the right to publicly perform the recording through digital audio transmission (not applicable to compositions)

Copyright Act

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act) regulates copyright in Australia in relation to original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, and subject matter other than works. Please check the Copyright Act for your representing country if different to Australia.

Copyright Council, Australia

The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation. Founded in 1968, they represent the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies. They are advocates for the contribution of creators to Australia’s culture and economy; the importance of copyright for the common good. They work to promote understanding of copyright law and its application, lobby for appropriate law reform and foster collaboration between content creators and consumers.

Copyright Registration

A record stating the date of a work and its content, so that in the event of infringement or plagiarism, the copyright owner can produce a copy of the work from an official source. *Not required in the UK or Australia. In Australia, and the UK, a work should be dated upon completion and recorded in such a way that an original can be produced upon request. Always check your country’s copyright laws to be sure.


In the ‘noun’ form, Cover refers to a recording by an artist who is not the original songwriter/composer. When used as a verb, Cover refers to the act of performing or recording a song written/composed by someone else.

Creative Commons Licence

Creative Commons is a non exclusive licensing system allowing creators to grant others the rights to use their work as long as certain conditions are met. Creative Commons licences are irrevocable but can be a useful tool in marketing work. Whether this type of licence is suited to your practice will depend on the nature of your work and your objectives as an artist. As with any legal document, you should seek legal advice before entering into a creative commons licence.

There are four main types of Creative Commons licences, which all require attribution of authorship:

  1. by Attribution: you allow any use of your work;
  2. No Derivative Works: your work may be used except in a subsequent derivative work;
  3. Non-Commercial: you allow any use of your work except a commercial one; and
  4. Share Alike: you allow any use of your work provided any derivate work is made available under the same licence.



The Crew is often a group of people, besides the artist(s), employed by the artist(s) or representatives to perform certain duties related to a performance, often including traveling with the artist(s) from venue to venue.

Cross Collateralisation

Cross-collateralisation refers to the recoupment of advances from multiple sources. It is a deal typically included in a recording contract to reduce risk imposed on the record label (i.e. a 360 deal). It can include recouping from such things as music publishing royalties, concert fees, merchandise sales, etc.


Music or musical works used in the context of a television or film production.

Cue Sheet

A document that itemises music used in a television or film production by title, composer, publisher, duration and type of music usage (i.e., background, feature, and theme). The cue sheet is normally prepared by the producer of the television or film production.



Delivery can refer 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 when the label agrees to advance the costs of a certain number of demo recordings, if required. Often this can transpire into recording an EP.

Derivative Work

A new work derived from one or more pre-existing works, such as a remix of a song, acoustic version, or a song based on a poem, etc. This is primarily a US copyright term. For derivative works, the original copyright holders may have a claim in the new version even if they are not the creators of the derivative work. A copyright owner reserves the right to authorise a “derivative work” based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, a remix, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. (See also: Creative Commons Licences)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

In the US, this is a federal anti-piracy law which makes it illegal to create and/or use technology that allows people to bypass measures intended to restrict access to copyrighted material. The DMCA also criminalises the distribution of copyright-protected material, and targets music, film, and software piracy in particular. The Australian government introduced the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017. In the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia agreed to adopt these provisions into Australian domestic law. For more on this topic click here.

Digital Phonorecord Delivery (DPD)

Simply another name for a digital download, referring to the transmission of a product from host & server to the purchaser, allowing them to download musical works for repeated use indefinitely.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Also known as Digital Rights Management. A term for the practice of restricting or controlling how digital content is used on electronic devices. For example, a download that can only be activated on a set number of devices has a DRM.

Digital Service Provider (DSP)

Corporate entities that provide digital services built on a networked ecosystem of consumers and other service providers. DSPs tend to focus on driving almost all interactions online and across devices such as Amazon and iTunes to name but a few.


This is the process of eliminating intermediaries from within a given supply chain. It allows for a more simplified and direct process between end users and the company providing the services offered. Example: Dark Escapes

Distribution Agreement

Many independent artists agree to allow independent distributors to distribute their music according to a distribution agreement between both parties. Major distribution deals also exist in which the label agrees to manufacture and distribute a release.


Is the digital transfer of music via the Internet into a device capable of decoding and playing it, such as a personal computer, portable media player, MP3 player or smartphone. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyrighted material without permission or legal payment.



EP originally stood for ‘Extended Play’. It was a record often referred to as an EP and was the middle ground between a single and an album. Ultimately it’s a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified to be an album or LP, as they were once called.

Exclusive Songwriter Agreement

Sometimes also referred to as a “Staff Writer” Contract, this is a contract with a publishing company in which a songwriter assigns the entire publisher’s share of any songs written during the term of the agreement to the publishing company. In return, the songwriter receives advances on a regular basis, which the publishing company typically recoups until the advance has been paid off.


Owners of the copyright to a work, are free to exploit it on their own or licence the use of it to another party, usually a publisher and/or record label. Particularily in a Co-Publishing deal, the publisher will ‘Exploit’ the licenced works by finding licencing opportunities for the songs such as sync opportunities, or getting the music placed in film, television, advertisement, trailers, video games and online content. Additionally, finding opportunities for covers of those songs and sourcing recording artists.


Foreign - International Mechanicals

Royalties paid to a publisher for the sale of copyrighted songs in foreign territories outside the US. Unlike US mechanical royalties, foreign mechanicals do not have a fixed penny rate, but usually are paid as a percentage of the wholesale price (generally between 6 and 12%, depending on the territory.) Foreign mechanicals are collected by local societies such as APRA in Australia, GEMA in Germany, ASCAP in the US, and SACEM in France. If a foreign songwriter does not collect their foreign mechanicals within a set period of time (generally 6 – 18 months, depending on the territory) then the society will usually distribute those royalties to local publishers as “black box” income.

Fair Use

The “fair use” principle allows individuals and enterprises to use copyright material without permission, provided that the use is “fair”. Fair dealing exceptions allow use of copyright material for the purposes of review or criticism, research or study, parody or satire, new reporting, judicial proceedings or legal advice. Meanwhile, under our statutory licensing scheme, schools, universities, businesses and libraries pay a small fee to publishers and authors to copy sections of their work without seeking permission.
(You should check the Copyright Laws in your territory or consult your legal advisor)

First Use

An element of copyright law that grants the publisher or copyright owner control over the work’s first use. Though the custom is to charge the statutory rate, the publisher or copyright owner can decide who gets to record a copyrighted work for the first time and how much to charge them.


Grand Right

The legal rights necessary to stage an opera, play or theatrical play with music, or a work of musical theater, etc.

Grant of Rights

A ‘Grant of rights’ clause is a clause that deals with the intellectual property rights of a musical work, composition, etc, as defined in a binding legal agreement between the Composer/Licencor, the publisher, or end user of the work. It dictates who owns the copyright (almost always you, the creator) and what rights you may be granting to the client to use, copy, reproduce, print, or publish your stuff.

Gold Album

In Australia, a music single or album qualifies for a gold certification when 35,000 copies have been shipped. In the US, when an album has sold 500,000 copies, it is certified by the RIAA as ‘gold’.


Harry Fox Agency (HFA)

The Harry Fox Agency is a mechanical license administrator. In short, HFA issues mechanical licenses for reproductions of musical compositions embodied in sound recordings that are manufactured and distributed in the U.S. In Australia, AMCOS (APRA/AMCOS) is used for all mechanical licencing & mechanical royalty collections.


Independent Distributor

Independent distributors provide distribution services for both independent artists and record labels. Some independent distributors are affiliated with a major label or a major artist.

Independent Publishers

Music publishing companies that are independent from major record labels. Examples of independent publishers in Australia include Dark Escapes Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing, and Fable Music.


The unlicenced use of works under copyright. Infringement (a.k.a. Copyright Infringement) occurs when someone other than the rights holder violates one of the rights holder’s exclusive rights by using content unlawfully. In music publishing, the 6 exclusive rights are Reproduction, Derivation, Public Display, Public Performance, Distribution and Digital Transmission. (Also see: 6 Exclusive Rights of a Copyright)

Intellectual Property (IP)

Intellectual property (IP) is the overall term for property in the creation of the mind, including inventions, literary and artistic works, but also images, and designs. There are two distinct categories of IP: copyright, which includes literary and artistic works and industrial property, which includes inventions protected by patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications. There are four types of intellectual property rights (IP): patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Interactive Streaming

Refers to an “on-demand” stream of a particular track that doesn’t require the end user to download the file. Interactive streams allow listeners to listen to recordings at will, thus generating both composition & mechanical royalties.

Interested Parties Information (IPI)

Interested Parties Information. This 9-digit number is used to uniquely identify a songwriter or publisher. IPI numbers are also referred to as a CAE (Composer, Author and Publisher) numbers. The IP Name Number is the code for a name or pseudonym related to an entity (natural person or a legal entity). Rights holders are assigned IPI numbers when they are granted membership to a PRO. It is used worldwide by more than 120 countries and three million right holders.

Interpolated Work

A song that is not written expressly for an audio-visual production but is taken from an outside source (e.g., recording) and used within that production.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique code assigned to a specific sound recording (CD, audio file, video, etc.) performed by an artist or band. Essentially, it is a recording’s identification number and is used to track and verify specific information about a recording, including:

  • Artist name
  • Track title
  • Album title
  • Label name
  • UPC

(Also see: International Standard Work Code (ISWC).)

International Standard Work Code (ISWC)

An ISWC (International Standard Musical Word Code) is a unique code assigned to a specific musical work or composition written by the songwriter(s). Like an ISRC, you can think of it as an identification number that’s used to track and verify specific information about a composition, including:

  • Song title
  • Songwriter(s)
  • Music publisher(s)
  • Ownership share(s) or Music publisher(s)

There should only be one ISWC assigned to a musical work and it should never be reused to represent another.

(Also see: International Standard Work Code (ISRC).)


Joint Recording

A joint recording will feature more than just one artist or band and is usually a collaborative project between several.

Joint Work

A work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that each contribution will merge into one inseparable work. If one songwriter writes all of the music to a joint work and another songwriter writes all of the lyrics to the joint work, each will own 50% of both the music and lyrics.


Key Person Clause

A key member clause, usually used in a recording contract (sometimes known as a key person, or key man clause) is a clause that protects the record label, if a member of the group who is considered to be crucial to the overall sound, style, or identity of the group, decides to leave It allows the record label to claim ‘breach of contract’, which can result in its cancellation.


Label Deal

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

Lead Sheet

Songwriters are often required to submit lead sheets, which is a form of musical notation that specifies the essential elements of a popular song: the melody, lyrics and harmony. The melody is written in modern Western music notation, the lyric is written as text below the staff and the harmony is specified with chord symbols above the staff.

Letter of Direction (LOD)

Formal notification provided to a collection society that a publisher will be taking administrative control of a songwriter’s work or catalog on that songwriter’s behalf.


A legal agreement that grants someone permission to use a particular work for certain purposes or under certain conditions in accordance with the local Copyright Laws. A license does not change the ownership of the copyright.


Is the recipient of rights under a licencing agreement.


Is the grantor of rights for a work under a licencing agreement.

Licence Fee

Fees charged for the licenced use of a copyright-protected work. A fee ( which can be a negotiated one-time, buy-out or variations) for the specific use of a copyrighted work as outlined in the Licence agreement between the copyright owner (or a representative of) and the user.



A creative work, created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, usually by layering the vocal track(s) of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another. In some cases, the song’s tempo and/or pitch may also be changed.


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

Master Use License

A master-use licence permits the licencee to use a copyrighted sound recording in a new project. Typically, licencees are seeking to use recordings in audiovisual projects, as a sample in a new audio recording, or for distribution. By obtaining a master-use licence, the only rights being granted are to the sound recording. This means that any copyrighted composition embodied in the recording must be licenced separately.

Matching Folio

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

Mechanical License

A mechanical license (or simply, “mechanicals”) is a licence that the holder of the underlying musical work grants to another party to cover, reproduce, or sample-specific parts of the original composition. This does NOT give any third party the rights to sample from any phonorecord of the original recording without a separate licence agreement.

Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC)

In the US in 2018, as part of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the rate at which songwriters were paid mechanical royalties for the use of their works was significantly amended. As of 2020, the MLC became the governing body responsible for setting statutory royalty rates, replacing the trio of U.S. judges called the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). Among other duties, the MLC is empowered to provide blanket licences for streaming services. It provides a baseline structure to ensure that royalties are actually collected and distributed to rights holders.

Mechanical Rights

These are the rights obtained from a mechanical licence to reproduce a musical composition (songs) onto CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, cassette, ringtones, permanent digital downloads, interactive streams, and other digital configurations supporting various business models.

Mechanical Rights Organisation

Another type of Collection Society and pay source, these organisations are responsible for the administration of mechanical licences and, depending on the MRO, the collection and payout of mechanical royalties to publishers. In some cases, if a territory or country does not have a single Collection Society, or organisation responsible for both performance and mechanical royalty collections, they split these responsibilities between a PRO and an MRO. In Australia, APRA (PRO) / AMCOS (MRO) provide this service. In the US, it is largely done through the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) for all Mechanical Collections.

Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are paid to the owner or administrator of a composition whenever a copy of one of their songs has been created. Each time a consumer purchases a sound recording or streams a recording on demand, music publishers are owed a mechanical royalty, which is then passed on to the songwriter.


Merchandise, often referred to as Band Merch or just ‘merch’ is a collection of products that are branded with an artist’s or band’s name logo and/or accompanied with some unique form or artwork. Common merch items start with t-shirts, wristbands, coolers, hoodies, beanies, keyrings, and so much 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, including the artist’s logo and/or brand image, whether registered, trademarked or not.

Micro-Sync Royalties

Payments made on the synchronisation of music with a moving image typically in videos and user-generated content. Depending on where these uses occur, they can generate both performance and mechanical royalties. For Example, a television broadcast generates performance royalties, while a monetised YouTube video will generate performance and mechanical royalties.

Misalloacted Royalties

Royalties earned that have been matched to the wrong copyright owner by a collection society. This happens when songs are not registered correctly or the contact information for the songwriter is unavailable, or has not been updated.

Mixed Folio

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

Most Favored Nations Clause (MFN)

A most-favored-nation (MFN) clause requires a country or party, to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation, or party, in a trade agreement to all other countries. Although its name implies favoritism toward another nation or party, it denotes the equal treatment of all involved.

Music Distribution

Music distribution is the process of getting music from artist to store, making it available to the public for purchase, no matter whether that store is a physical store or a digital music platform. The distributor takes a cut of income from each unit sold and then pays the label the remaining balance. Today, distribution is more fluid and involves releasing music both physically and digitally.

Music Modernization Act (MMA)

In the US, legislation was signed into law on October 11, 2018 aimed to modernize copyright-related issues for music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology like digital streaming. It is a consolidation of three separate bills introduced during the 115th United States Congress.

Music Publishing

Music publishing is the publishing of music and protecting the copyright of a work on behalf of the creator (artist, songwriter, etc.). Music publishers originally published sheet music. When copyright became legally protected, music publishers started to play a role in the management of the intellectual property (IP) of composers. Think of a song as IP (it’s an original piece of work), and music publishing is the business that makes sure that songwriters get paid a compensation when their IP is used by someone else. That could be record labels (mechanical royalties), radio stations, bars, and restaurants (performance royalties), or film studios and advertising agencies (sync license fees), and so many more. Note that music publishing pays royalties only to the writer of a song, and not to any performers.

Music Reports

Music Reports was established to serve individuals and organisations seeking expertise and solutions in music rights licencing, administration, royalty accounting, and software development and hosting. Music Reports operates the largest registry of worldwide music rights and related business information. The company undertakes music rights clearances, licensing and accounting for digital and background music services such as Amazon, Deezer, Microsoft, Pandora, iHeart Media, PlayNetwork, SoundCloud, Tidal and 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 program. Music supervisors are also often tasked with negotiating and acquiring all the necessary licences for use of the music in the production, and work to negotiate licencing deals that come in on budget for their clients.


Neighboring Rights

In copyright law, related rights (or neighbouring rights) are the rights of a creative work not connected with the work’s actual author. For example, when the legal right is given to someone to perform or broadcast a recorded works in public. Both authors’ rights and related rights are copyrights in the sense of English or U.S. law. Musicians and sound recording owners receive these royalties when their recording is performed or broadcasted on radio, streaming services, new media, TV, in a public place such as a club or restaurant. The rights do not generate royalties for selling music. Neighboring rights royalties are one of the fastest growing revenue streams in music.

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 catalogue is up for sale, the Net Publisher’s Share plays an important function in determining the monetary value of the catalogue. Net Publisher’s Share typically refers to the gross income collected by or credited to the publisher who controls the catalogue minus the songwriter royalties and co-publishing royalties.

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 case of publishing deals, net receipts can also refer to royalties earned by the publisher and owed to the songwriter minus incurred expenses.

Notice of Intention

A Notice of Intent (NOI) is used in the music industry when a third party wants to record or distribute someone else’s copyright protected works. This can especially be used by Streaming platforms in today’s digital music era.


Orphan Works

An Orphan Works is a copyright-protected work where the rights holder or author cannot be identified, located or contacted for any reason. This happens often when a record label or music publisher goes out of business.


Passive Sync

Passive sync, also known as an inbound sync, gives songwriters the option to paper the deal themselves, and therefore keeping 100% of the revenue from the sync licence. Dark Escapes Publishing offers its clients an ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ of having us administer passive sync requests that may come in. If they opt in, then we would relay the request to the client, obtain approval (or not), negotiate the licence, receive the payment and pay it through as part of an Admin Publishing deal.

Pay Source

A pay source, (a.k.a. Revenue Stream or Source) is a general term to identify any organisation, society, or digital service provider that pays out royalties earned for the use of a song. Included in these pay sources are collection societies. (Also see: Revenue)

Performance Rider

A Rider, as it’s commonly called, is a special list of demands or provisions made by the performer(s), and attached to a performance agreement. This can be anything from certain drinks in the fridge backstage, to having no ‘brown’ M&M’s in the large bowl of M&M’s in the dressing room, as in the (famous) case with Van Halen decades ago.

Performance Royalties

Performance royalties are payments made to a songwriter, and/or publisher for the public use or broadcasting of a specific musical work. This means either performing the song on stage, playing the song on radio, television, in bars and nightclubs, or any other public environment. These royalties are collected by PROs, such as APRA in Australia, ASCAP or BMI in the US, GEMA in Germany, and PRS in the UK. (Also see: Performing Rights Organisation (PRO))

Performance Rights Organistion (PRO)

Performing Rights Organisations, or Societies as some are called, operate in most countries around the world, responsible for collecting royalties & revenue on behalf of songwriters and music publishers when a song is used publicly. They licence this public performance for a musical work on behalf of the copyright owners. These PROs collect fees from establishments who use a specific song in public, and then pay the royalties due to the registered songwriters or their publisher.

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 professionally, and act as a guide for their career. The personal manager might seek out professional opportunities for the songwriter or artist, help them with decision making, oversee their day-to-day schedules, and represent them in negotiations.


A phonorecord is a material object that embodies sound.

Physical Records

Commonly known as a Vinyl album, the records are a tangible medium sold through physical distribution and retail outlets. This can also include CDs/DVDs, and cassettes.

Platinum Album

In Australia, a Platinum Certification is achieved when a single or full album exceeds 70,000 copies shipped to retailers. In the US, the same is achieved when 1,000,000 copies are certified by the Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA).

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney exists in all matters of human life. However, in music, A Power of Attorney is appointed to give a party the right to sign documents on behalf of another party.

Print License

A print licence is an agreement between a copyright owner (music publisher) and the user of the copyright. It gives permission to rearrange, display, and/or print the sheet music, notes, and/or lyrics of a composition.

Printed Music Royalties

Royalties collect by a publisher for the sale of printed music, which can be in both or either musical notation form and/or lyrical form. These royalties are usually paid directly to the publisher and can differ depending on the type of sheet music and whether it’s printed physically or provided digitally.


A producer is simply someone in charge of the recording process in the recording studio. Producers will have varying levels of creative input depending on the recording artist and specialise in guiding both artists and engineers towards a better outcome.

Producer Agreement

The producer’s agreement usually occurs between the producer and artist, though sometimes it can form between a label and a producer, depending on the environment. The producer is often entitled to a 50% fraction of the label’s net receipts for a given sound recording. Producers can only lay claim to the Masters of a song, and not the composition (notes & lyrics), unless a producer provides a distinct contribution to a song, in which case they would then be classified as a songwriter for split percentage purposes.


In many cases, a Promoter is an independent entity that focuses mainly on promotional opportunities for an artist or band, often working with a publicist in more professional circumstances. A ‘promoter’ term is also often used to identify a person or entity who create live performance opportunties, concerts, etc. or for smaller artists, bands, etc. can even provide tour booking.


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 they are divided between songs according to who is owed what.

Public Domain

A public domain is any works that doesn’t have intellectual property protection and is available in the public domain. It can be used by anyone and for any purpose without the need of permission or the payment of a fee to the original composer, as in many cases, the original composer may have passed on. A work can be in the public domain because of its copyright or patent protection has expired, because it is a government work, or for a number of other reasons. An example of a work in the public domain is Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. (Also see: Intellectual Property)

Public Performance

A Public Performance is any live performance open to the public or in any place where a substantial number of people attend who are outside normal and reasonable friends and family, and close social acquaintances. Additionally, when a musical work is transmitted or otherwise communicated to a public audience of some kind, whether the members of the public are capable or receiving the performance, receive it in the same place or somewhere else, and whether at the same time or a different time.


A music publisher is responsible for licencing and administering composition copyrights of songwriters. Typically, they secure the placement of songs in the publisher’s catalog where royalties and other revenue will be generated. These revenue streams range from royalties obtained through the licencing of compositions for the purposes of sound recordings, to digital streaming and synchronisation in film, commercials, or television.

Publisher Share

The share of revenues granted to the music publisher via a publishing contract depend on the type of publishing agreement (i.e. songwriter, co-publishing, sub-publishing, administration). Normally, the publisher’s share can never exceed 50%. Depending on the type of publishing agreement, a publisher may acquire an “ownership share” in the copyrights for a period of time, including in perpetuity; this being the traditional and most common basis of an agreement. However, the ownership share and the collection share may differ, as in a typical co-publishing agreement.

Publishing Administrator

A third-party publisher that, for a fixed term, controls all licencing and the collection of publishing revenue streams on behalf of a composer or copyright owner. In simple terms, they look after and manage all the Copyright and Royalty administration for an artist or band.

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 songs a pipeline to being recorded by a successful artist, and can provide them with other avenues to get their compositions out into the world where they might be exploited and monetised.


Rate Per Song

The mechanical royalty amount owed to the publisher per song for each copy of the song that is distributed and/or downloaded. The rate per song is often based on a statutory rate set by the Copyright Statute (which is currently 9.1¢ per track or 1.75¢ for each minute of playing time, whichever is greater), but there are exceptions in which the rate per song is less than the full statutory rate. (also see: Statutory Rates)


In music terms, 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.

Recording Costs

Recording costs are the costs incurred by an artist during a recording session. This can include studio time, mixing and mastering.

Record Label

Record labels are companies, large or small, that manufacture, distribute, and promote the recordings of affiliated musicians. Essentially, record labels work to sell the brand of the artist and the products they create. There are various different departments within a record label that work together to best sell and market their products and artists.


The concept of recoupment allows a record label or publisher to apply artist royalties against a monetary advance until the royalties equal or “recoup” the advance.


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 royalties on physical records that are subsequently returned by retailers.

Retroactive Royalties

Retroactive royalties are unallocated royalties that are waiting to be paid out to the copyright owners. This happens when songs aren’t registered correctly or the contact information for the songwriter is unavailable. These royalties generally sit at the collection society for a length of time, which varies based on the society, until they enter the black box. (also see: Black Box Royalties)


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 distributor allows this so that these retailers stock more physical records than they otherwise would.


Revenue is any form of income received from one or multiple sources when a copyrighted work is licenced out. Different revenue streams can be generated through licencing that involves Master Rights, Publishing (several options), Merchandise sales, Performances, and more.

Reversion Clause

This is a clause included in some publishing contracts stating that ownership of some or all works contained within the agreement will revert back to the songwriter after a certain period of time or if certain conditions are met, like successful placement on a major label release.


RIAA stands for Recording Industry Association of America, a trade association that represents major record labels and distributors in the United States. In Australia, they have the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). (also see: ARIA)

Rights Management Agency

These agencies collect and distribute mechanical royalties and are responsible for the tracking and collection when your song is reproduced. Examples include Harry Fox Agency in the United States, and AMCOS (APRA/AMCOS) in Australia.


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 commercially-released masters and therefore subject to copyright protection.


Music royalties are payments that go to recording artists, songwriters, composers, publishers, and other copyright holders for the right to use their intellectual property. This can include album sales, digital downloads, streams, radio airplay and a host of other forms through which songs earn income for songwriters and music publishers.

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.



The number of physical and/or digital recordings sold. Sometimes called “record sales”.


The act of taking material from a previously existing sound recording and incorporating it into an entirely new sound recording. Sampling began as a technique used by experimental composers, but became a popular production technique in 1970’s hip-hop culture and then spread to electronic music and other genres. In order to avoid copyright infringement, samples almost always require a licence to use the sound recording and often require a licence to use the underlying composition.


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 written specifically for a play, musical, opera, ballet, television program, film, or other production. A “film score” refers to original music written specifically to accompany a film.

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, tempo, rhythm, chords, and other musical details.


A single is the shortest type of song release in playing time. These days, a ‘single’ is often referred to a song that has either been released on its own accord or independently of an album, often in advance of, or during the early stages of a new album release for promotional reasons.


A songwriter is commonly referred to as a professional who writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs.

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 Australian Copyright Act of 1968 defines sound recordings as “the aggregate of the sounds embodied in a record[ing].” A sound recording is a separate intellectual property from any lyrics, compositions, poetry, script, or speech that may be embodied within it.


Soundscan is a company that tracks and publishes data from the sale of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Billboard uses SoundScan to create its album charts each week for album sales in the U.S. In Australia, ARIA are one of the biggest collectors of sales data across Australia.


In a co-writing or joint work situation, splits represent the percentage of ownership each co-writer has over a specific song.

Split Sheet

A Split Sheet is a document that outlines who wrote what percentage of a work. A split sheet should be created for each and every song you write, and should be provided to a publisher when that song is ready for commercial release.

Statutory Mechanical Royalty Rate

The Statutory Mechanical Royalty Rate is the rate set forth by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel for compulsory mechanical licences. Assuming the work has been previously released to the public, this is the licencing fee the licencee can pay to sell a cover version of a song without having to obtain direct permission from the rightsholder. In the US, this rate is currently set at 9.1¢ per track or 1.75¢ for each minute of playing time, whichever is greater.


A Sub-Publisher is a company that is assigned the right to administer songs outside of a publisher’s territory. For example, an Australian publisher would engage the services of a sub-publisher in America to handle its affairs in that country.

Sub-Publishing Agreement

A sub-publishing deal occurs when a publisher enters into an agreement with another publisher to administer and licence copyrights from their writers in a foreign market. European music publishers can sub-publish American music and vice versa. Usually these deals are done company-to-company. A very small publisher in Australia, for example, may sign a sub-publishing deal with one of the majors to cover administration in foreign territories.

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 content may be no longer available. The subscription model is used by Spotify and other digital streaming services offering music on-demand over the Internet.

Suggested Retail Price

The Suggested Retail Price, or sometimes referred to as the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) 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 name implies, businesses are not required to sell the music at the Suggested Retail Price, though contract terms nearly always bind the retailer to a minimum price. Record companies have traditionally used Suggested Retail Price to calculate the Royalty Base Price for artist royalties, though wholesale price (PPD) is used more often today.

Synchronization (Sync)

The overall use of music in audiovisual projects. More specifically, sync refers to the use of a song in television, movies, and commercials.

Synchronization License

Synchronisation licencing is the process by which production companies of audiovisual works clear the rights for outside music to be used in their productions. Both the sound recording copyright and the underlying composition copyright must be cleared in order to use the work in synchronisation. Synchronisation licences (“sync,” for short) refer to the “synchronising” of a musical work with a visual work. Sync deals give the licencee the right to use a composition copyright and sound recording in an audiovisual work such as a movie, TV show or commercial, video game, or other similar work.

Sync Licensing Fees

Payments made to a songwriter or music publisher for permission to use a song in “sync” with visual images on a screen. More specifically, sync refers to the use of a song in television, movies, and commercials. Sync royalties are generally a one-time sum paid directly to the publisher. For example, when the CW uses The xx’s “Crystalised” or Sebastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle” in Gossip Girl, the publishers representing those songs are paid directly for the use of the music. In addition to the sync licence fee, songwriters and publishers also benefit from Performance Royalties when the program is aired in certain instances. (also see: Performance Royalties)

Synchronization (Sync) Rights

The sync rights are the rights to authorise the recording of a musical work onto the soundtrack of an audio/visual work (film, television program, music video, video game, commercial). A synchronisation licence is needed for a song to be reproduced and songwriters and publishers receive royalties for sync rights.



When an artist or band arrange more than one live performance outside of their home location. Tours can be both domestic and international.

Tour Manager

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

Tour Merchandising

Tour merchandising refers to the sale of an artist’s or band’s merchandise at a concert or live performance venue. (also see: Merchandise)

Tour Support

A record company will often cover the expenses of a tour that exceeds a tour’s revenue. Note, however, that tour support is almost always recoupable from artist royalties.


A trademark is any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination used to identify and distinguish between sources of a good/service.


U.S. Copyright Office

The official government body that maintains records of copyright registration in the United States. Your work is technically copyrighted once it’s in tangible form but registering it with the U.S. copyright office is an additional way to protect your copyright. In order to file an infringement action (to recover damages or stop someone from using your copyright without your permission), your work needs to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. In Australia, the laws are pretty much the same although to contest infringement, you do not need to register with the Australian Copyright Council (ACC). (also see: Australian Copyright Council)

Unmatched/Unclaimed (Misallocated) Royalties

Royalties earned that are unable to be matched to a copyright owner by the collection societies. This happens when songs aren’t registered correctly or the contact information for the songwriter is unavailable.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media that was created by the community, usually in a digital format, and is available to the public, usually on social media platforms.



Venue refers to the place where a live performance occurs.

Visual Arts

The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts, and architecture.


Work for Hire

A work for hire is an exception to the general rule that the person who creates a work is the legally recognised author of that work. Under US copyright law and in some other jurisdictions, if a work is “made for hire”, the employer, not the employee is considered the legal author.

Writer Share

The percentage of ownership in a work attributable to the author and/or composer.