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Top 10 Music Industry Terms You Should Know

Top 10 Music Industry Terms You Should Know

build your skills Jun 07, 2021

Music Industry Terms Every Musician Should Know

The world of music marketing is filled with technical terms that shy a lot of musicians away from going indie. To help you up your game here, we have curated a list of music industry terms that you should know about, in this short and crisp easy-to-refer guide.

1. A&R

A&R as a term has had a bit of a transformation. While it used to refer to the Artist and Repertoire (ARA) department in a record label, that was responsible for finding and nurturing up and coming artists, the term has expanded to cover a broader horizon in today’s era.

Now, A&R titles can be found linked with indie labels, marketing businesses, booking agencies and so on. These A&R people seek new talent and develop them as artists by working with them closely through recording projects, in close proximity with producers, songwriters, managers and other artists.

2. Recoupable Advance

Whenever a musician enters a contract with a publishing company or a record label, they are paid an ‘advance’ by the label or publishing company, which is basically some loaned money that the musician then uses to record an album, buy gear, tour, etc. This money must be recouped before any profit is made by the artist. 

Usually, the cost of producing an album would quickly consume the loan. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of signed artists are able to recoup their advance and become financially successful. Here’s another way of making money as an artist.

3. Back Catalogue

The Back Catalogue of a musical artist is the entire body of work this artist has done before, including singles, EPs, albums, etc. that an artist has released previously. 

4. Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is an American web-based non-profit organization devoted to use of copyright material with partial or no restrictions and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.  

5. CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It refers to the ways of handling various interactions with fans like email databases, activity logs, transaction histories and so on. It comes in handy when you have services like buying, ordering, and accounting going on.


ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code. The ISRC has been made to help in tracking sales and radio station play count. The rule is that each new recording (or even a different version of a recording) has to be assigned a unique 12-digit number code. These ISRC codes can be obtained through various online music service producers.

7. Invoice

An invoice refers to a document issued to a buyer from a seller, which lists the services and goods supplied to the buyer and states the sum of money due.

8. Sync / Synchronisation

Sync Licensing is the entire procedure involved in getting your songs placed in movies, TV, ads, games, and much more. That is, searching sync opportunities, pitching particular songs, negotiating terms, and getting paid. It is a billion-dollar industry that isn’t talked about that well, and here’s everything you need to know about it.

9. UPC

UPC stands for Universal Product Code. It is a special kind of barcode which is widely used for tracking products in stores. 

UPC has many forms, and the most common form of UPC called UPC-A consists of 12 numerical digits, which are assigned uniquely to each product.

10. PRO

 PRO stands for a Performing Rights Organization/Society. These societies or organizations essentially act like business agents on the behalf of music creators and publishers in order to license songs, issue performing rights licenses as well as collect and distribute royalties to songwriters and publishers for performances of each copyrighted material (radio broadcasts, television, cinema, internet). 

As songs have gotten very popular, a single license fee is paid to the PRO by frequent song users (like radio) to access all the songs available on their catalogue. The PRO then pays the publisher or author royalties in proportion to the frequency of the performance.

Once you’re up to speed with these terms, it’s time to start marketing your music. And just like this guide, we promise that it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Here’s all you need to do.

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