You are on page 1of 34



A Complete Glossary
of commonly used
terms in the Music
Industry and their

About The Dictionary...

I have collected this glossary by searching the internet and researching through various
websites, books, and articles, to give you a collection of terms and phrases that will help you
as you navigate through the different articles on this website and become more
knowledgeable about the common lingo used in the music industry.


Glossary Terms - A
By Trenz Pruca

A Side. The A Side is the single chosen by the record company for radio play. It is expected to be "the
hit." The B Side is usually an album cut that is not expected to have significant radio play.

Acetate. The material in vinyl mastering used to produce a "master" acetate record from which all
duplicates are molded from.

Acetate Dub. A one-of-a-kind, individually cut record made of acetate (not vinyl). Also known as a
"dubplate" they generally wear out after 50 plays on a turntable.

Acoustic. As in "acoustic guitar" or "acoustic version": Instruments that do not require a power source to
be played and properly heard or that is not electronically modifed (such as a non-electric guitar, drums,
or wind instrument). A recording arrangement that is entirely or primarily composed of acoustic

Acoustics. The characteristics, such as how sound is reflected and absorbed, that give a space such as a
living room, concert hall, or cinema an identifiable sonic "signature."

ADAT. An 8-track digital tape, identical in appearance to a VHS cassette. ADAT is the most popular
digital tape-based recording format and contains up to 44 minutes of 8-track audio per tape.

Administration. The supervision of all financial, copyright and contractual aspects of either an entire
catalog or a particular song.

Advance. Money paid before the recording or release of a song, to be deducted against future royalties
of that song.

Adult Contemporary. Also known as "soft rock" it is a music genre targeted to the adult market (30+).
It is often distinguished by orchestral background music, conservative backbeats, and frequently features
"love songs." Not quite as conservative as "Easy Listening," it borrows generously the emotive ballads
that occasionally appear in "Pop."

AF of M. An abbreviation for American Federation of Musicians.

Air. The Vamp, the Verse, if there is one, and the Chorus (composed of "8s"), ending with the Rideout,
constitute the component parts of the printed sheet-music copy. But there is music that exists between
the sung lines ("fills") that can be described as the "Air" in the song. If "Air" is recognized as "music
without words," the Vamp and Rideout, too, must be listed as "Air" pockets.

Air Checks. A recording made of a televised show on 3/4" tape to be used for demo reels.

Airplay. Radio or internet broadcast of a music recording.

Amplifier. An electronic device which increases the strength of an electrical signal. For instance they
take relatively small electric signals and increase them to a strength powerful enough to drive a speaker.
For musicians, amplifiers are used with electric instruments and microphones to increase volume and
modify basic frequency sets (such as increasing bass or treble tones, or adding distortion effects).

Glossary Terms - A
By Trenz Pruca

Analog. In a music and recording context, analog refers to a way of sending information electronically
using variable voltage. Very similarly to the way AM and FM radio signals work, analog devices use a
continuos wave signal as a carrier onto which information is encoded as electric pulses. Analog signals
are limited in the amount of data they can transmit. They are also vulnerable to interference that causes
distortion or other inaccuracies to appear in an analog recordings. However, because the voltage
oscillations of analog signals are similar the wave qualities of sound, there are arguments (of some
merit) that analog can more faithfully reproduce sound (but is much more difficult for editing and
correcting recordings).

A&R. An abbreviation for Artists and Repertoire; record company staffer or liaison in charge of
selecting new artists, songs and masters.

Arrangement. The adaptation of a composition for performance by other instruments and voices than
originally intended.

Arranger. One who adapts a musical work to particular instruments or voices.

Artist. An individual or group under recording contract.

Artist Management. The task of developing an artist's career. The artist manager typically advises the
artist on all business decisions and attempts to promote the artist through all available means, including
demos, media coverage, and person-to-person networking.

Assignment. The transfer of rights to a song or catalog from one copy-right proprietor to another.

Audition. A formally arranged session (usually by appointment through an agent) for an actor to display
his or her talents when seeking a role in an upcoming production of a play, film or television project,
usually to a casting director, director or producers.

Avail. A courtesy extended by a performer to a booking agent indicating availability to work during a
certain timeframe. Avails have no legal or contractual status.


Glossary Terms - B
By Trenz Pruca

Backgrounds. Another term for backup vocals on a song.

Backline. Specific musical instruments and equipment needed for a live performance. In certain
circumstances, the "backline" refers to equipment that is expected to be provided by the venue.

Balls. A deep and resonant vocal tone.

Bed. The soundtrack that goes under your voice-over. It may be a bed of music or sound effects or a
combination of both.

Big Five. A phrase that collectively refers to the five largest corporations in the global music market:
Universal, Sony, BMG, Warner, and EMI.

Billboard. To emphasize or set apart a copy point is to "billboard" it.

Biography. A concise account of an artist or group's industry related experience or background.

Booker. An agency employee who sets appointments for talent/models.

Booking. A confirmed date for a live performance or studio session.

Booking Agent. One who finds employment for artists from buyers of talent.

Borderless. A photograph that takes up the full space of the paper with no white edges.

Boom Mike. A microphone on the end of a pole, held above actor's heads to record dialogue.

Boot Legging. The unauthorized recording and selling of a performance of a song.

Bullet. Designation of a record listed on the charts, referring to increased record sales.

Buyout. A one-time payment for shooting and airing a commercial.


Glossary Terms - C
By Trenz Pruca

Cans. Studio term meaning headphones.

Cartage. A gear management and transportation service provided to professional musicians by private
companies. Cartage companies are responsible for bringing all of an artist's musical equipment to a
studio for a session.

Catalog. All the songs owned by a music publisher considered as one collection.

CD. A CD (Compact Disc) consists of up to approximately 333,000 sectors. A 650 MB CD holds 74

minutes of audio, and a 700 MB CD holds 80 minutes of audio.

CD-Recordable (CD-R). Recordable CDs are special CDs on which data may be recorded by using a
special laser that burns microscopic holes in the recording layer. These pits can then be read by standard
CD readers. Recordable CDs are somewhat more fragile than standard CDs, so care should be taken in
their storage and handling. The label side is particularly delicate.

CD-Rewritable (CD-RW). A CD-Rewritable disc can be written to, erased, and rerecorded many times.

Charts. Lists published in the trade magazines of the best-selling records. These are separate charts for
pop, soul, country western, etc.; musical arrangements.

Chord. Three or more notes sounded simultaneously that imply a harmonic function.

Chorus. A section of the song that repeats itself at certain intervals. At the turn of the century, and
continuing into the sixties, Choruses were compared and shaped within thirty-two bars of music.

Clearance. The right of a radio station to play a song.

Clearance Agency. Same function of a performance rights organization, such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC.

Click Track. A perforated sound track that produces click sounds that enables one to hear a
predetermined beat in synchronization with the movie.

Clipping. A condition where the dB (decibel) level of a track is too high and causes sound distortion.
Clipping can also occur if the dB levels of two tracks combine with each other to cause distortion.

CMYK. An abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The colors used in the printing process
in which four distinct color plates are printed one on top of the other which combines the colors to make
photo-realistic images.

Collaborator. One of two or more partners in the writing of songs.

Commercial. Regarding the music industry, the potential to sell, or that which has mass appeal.

Commission. Percentage of income paid by actors to their representative. If it is an agent, the amount
cannot be over 10% for a union contract; if it is a manager, the percentage is unregulated, but is
traditionally 15-20%.


Glossary Terms - C
By Trenz Pruca

Common-Law Copyright. Natural protection of a song based on common laws of the various states.
Was superseded by a single national system effective January 1, 1978.

Composer. One who writes the music to a song.

Composite. A type of head shot popular in the commercial industry which positions several different
images of the subject together on one 8" x 10" spread giving casting directors a quick way to determine
how the subject will look in different settings.

Composition. A musical work; the art of writing music.

Compulsory License. Statutory mandate given to a copyright owner to permit third parties to make
sound recordings of the copyright owner's song after it once has been recorded.

Console. The audio board or control panel that allows the engineer to direct the audio signal to the
recorders, and to combine the various audio components into the final mix.

Consignment. An arrangement through which a retailer takes possession of an artist's product, such as
CDs or t-shirts, and only pays the artist for inventory that is sold. Essentially, when a sale occurs, the
retailer purchases product from the held inventory to meet the order. This system is common among
online retailers of independent music.

Consumer Publication. Entertainment oriented periodicals written and published for a general public
readership, i.e., Rolling Stone, Spin.

Control Room. The room from which producers direct musicians and engineers operate recording
equipment during a session. The control room contains the bulk of a studio's recording equipment,
including the mixing board and multitrack recorder. Control rooms are typically separated from the live
studio in which musicians perform by a soundproof glass panel.

Co-op Advertising. Retail advertising partly or fully paid for by a record label and/or distributor. Can
also refer to a group of retail advertisers pooling funds to jointly advertise.

Co-Publishing. The joint publication of one copyrighted work by two publishers.

Copyright. As a noun, means the exclusive rights granted to authors and composers for protection of
their works; a song or musical composition; as a verb, to secure protection for a song by filling the
proper registration forms with the Copyright Office.

Copyright Infringement. Stealing or using somebody else's copyrighted song.


Glossary Terms - C
By Trenz Pruca

Copyright Notice. Notice comprised of three elements:

1. The symbol of copyright, the word "copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."

2. The year the song has been registered for copyright or the year of first production of the work.
3. The copyright owner's name.
Copyright Office. Federal government department, one of whose main purposes is to file and supply
information regarding copyrights.

Cover Record. Another artist's version of a song already recorded.

Cover Set. Set which is always ready for shooting on a moment's notice. If a film crew is scheduled to
shoot outside, and it rains, they move to the cover set.

Co-Writing. Joint authorship of one work by two or more writers.

Craft Service. The food table on a music video set, or refers to the person(s) who handle the food.

Cross Collateralization. Means of recouping the money spent on one song or recording against the
earnings of another song or recording.

Crossover. A song which receives airplay in more than one market.

Cue (musical). Another term for the talk back system in a recording studio usually conducted through
headphones. It can also mean an audible or visual sign that tells you when to begin reading.

Curriculum vitae. Short account of one's career or qualifications.

Cut. (Musical) To record; a recorded selection.

Cuts. Lines, speeches, songs, or any other element in a printed script left out of a particular production.


Glossary Terms - D
By Trenz Pruca

DAT. An abbreviation for Digital Audio Tape.

Date. A recording session or live engagement.

dB. An abbreviation for Decibel, a comparative unit of measurement of "loudness." 1 dB is

approximately equal to the smallest change in loudness that can be detected. 0 dB is the threshold of
hearing, 65 dB is a normal speaking loudness (at 3 feet), 130 dB is the threshold of pain (rock concerts
are often about 120 dB).

Demo. A recording that demonstrates the talent and music of an artist to potentially interested parties,
such as booking agents or A&R representatives. As the cost of professional-grade recording has
decreased as a result of improving technology, the production standards applied to demos have generally
been raised.

Diaphragm. The lower part of the lungs, filling the abdominal space, that supports the voice when
actors and singers breathe correctly on stage.

Diction. Clear, sharp pronunciation of words, especially of consonants.

Digital Distribution. A distribution method in which the consumer logs in to an approved website that
offers preview samples, singles or full albums online for "download" (transfer from the Internet Web
server to the individual user's computer hard drive).

Discography. A catalog or list of recordings made by a particular band or artist as well as the related
information such as the playing time, recording date and label.

Distributor. Company that handles the sales and shipment of a record company's product to retail
outlets and one-stops for a certain territory.

DJ. An abbreviation for Disc Jockey.

DJ Business. To be actively engaged in paid DJ gigs.

Donut. A type of spot that has prerecorded material at the beginning and at the end with a "hole" in the
middle for the voice part. The parts can be reversed as well, with the voice being the donut and the pre-
recorded material in the hole.

D.O.R. Dance-Oriented Rock; a categorization of popular music utilized by radio stations.

Downstage. The area of the stage closest to the audience.

Dub. An audio or video copy. Also called a "dupe" (short for duplicate).

DVD. An abbreviation for Digital Video Disc. A disc that uses optical storage technology similar to a
CD. DVDs can hold high quality video, digital audio, and computer data (up to 4.7GB per side). With
widespread support from virtually all facets of the entertainment industry, DVDs are positioned to
render all other formats (video tape, audio CD, video cartridge) obsolete.

Dynamic Range. The range between the loudest and softest sounds a soundtrack and/or sound system
8 can reproduce properly.

Glossary Terms - E
By Trenz Pruca

Editorial print. Editorial print work involves photographs used to compliment the story line of an
article in a magazine.

Engineer. Individual who operates studio equipment during the recording of a song.

Entertainment Law. A specialty area of commercial law that looks after the needs pertaining to music,
theatre, sports, dance, literature, architecture, visual arts, Internet and television industries.

EP. An abbreviation for Extended Play or Extended Play Record. This expression designates a recording
longer than a single, but shorter than a full-length album, or LP. Often EPs are promotional releases by a
new band and contain only four to six songs.

EQ. An abbreviation for Equalization. Electronically boosting or dampening the level in certain
frequency ranges relative to other frequencies from the same source. Equalizers are processing units that
adjust the strength of specific frequencies.

Exclusive Songwriting Contract. A contract which prohibits the songwriter from writing for more than
one publisher.


Glossary Terms - F
By Trenz Pruca

Fader. A control on a console or amplifier that changes the strength of a signal. Faders are often sliders
or knobs that can be adjusted quite gradually to modify the signal intensity. The most basic example
would be the volume control knob on a stereo.

Feedback. When sounds or vibrations from speakers are picked up by microphones (or other input
devices), and are amplified by the sound system (often re-output though the speakers to create a vicious
cycle). In a recording environment, it is usually heard as "rumble," in a performance environment it is
heard as a dreadful, screeching, high-pitched squeal through the PA system.

Filter. An electronic network that allows certain frequencies to pass while blocking others. Active filters
contain powered components such as operational amplifiers (op-amps) and are normally inserted before
the main amplifier. Passive filters do not contain any powered components and are normally inserted
between the amplifier and the loudspeaker.

Finder's Fee. A finder's fee is any compensation in cash, cash equivalents, or anything of value that a
third party is paid or receives for any services in connection with an investment transaction.

Flanging. An effect in which a signal is delayed between 0 to 20 milliseconds and combined with the
unaffected, initial source signal. The effect is similar to chorusing (with only one replica signal), but the
effect has a distorted, "doppler-effect" sound (like the sound of a jet engine passing overhead and
receding in the distance). The term "flanging" comes from a time when the effect was achieved by
playing back the replica signal on a reel-to-reel tape deck and pressing on the flanges. Today's
technology creates the effect using a variable comb filter.

FM Radio. "FM" stands for "frequency modulation" which describes the radio wave signal of a
broadcast -- audio signals are conveyed through the changes in frequency of a carrier wave. FM
broadcasting is a hi-fidelity medium that can broadcast in stereo.

Folio. A collection of songs offered for sale to the public.

Four Color Process. A printing process in which four distinct color plates (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and
Black -- collectively known as CMYK) are printed one on top of the other which combines the colors to
make photo-realistic images. Typically, an image is created on a computer, the images is converted to
CMYK and is output as four, separate, film separations. A separate plate is made from the each film
separation. Colored ink is applied to each plate. Each plate is stamped on paper, one at a time, creating
the final printed image.

Free Goods. A fixed percentage of product deducted from the total in a shipment to account for
"giveaways" and promotional copies distributed for free. No royalties are paid to the artist for "free
goods." Example: A distributor sends 1000 CDs to a retail chain, but only charge for 900, the artist does
not get paid for the 100 "free" CDs. The 10% will also likely be a charge-back (the label's loss will be
deducted from the artist's royalties). Therefore, an artist's lawyer should negotiate a limit on the quantity
of free goods the record company may distribute (it is often capped at 15% on albums; 30% on singles).


Glossary Terms - G
By Trenz Pruca

Generation. The process whereby each time you copy a piece of film or tape it losses some clarity.

Gig. A catchall phrase used as a term for performance at a venue. Often used for shorter events as
opposed to a "concert" which implies a large venue and a long musical set.

Gold Album. Certification by the Recording Industry of America that a album has sold half a million

Gold Single. Certification by the Recording Industry of America that a single has sold half a million

Groove. Rhythm or tempo that helps create the "feel" of the song.


Glossary Terms - H
By Trenz Pruca

Harmony. The combination of musical notes to form chords that serve to enhance the melody line; the
art of combining notes into chords.

"Head" Arrangements. An arrangement devised spontaneously. No chords are prepared for

instrumentalists and vocalists. Instead, they read off lead sheets and an arrangement is made from
various experimental styling devised at the studio.

Head Shot. An 8" x 10" photograph that acts as your calling card for securing television, film and
theatrical work, showing your face as it actually appears. The head shot should capture your best and
most unique physical features, while still remaining true to your actual image.

Heads Out. Manner in which a reel-to-reel tape is stored, with the loose end at the beginning of the
tape, enabling the tape to be played immediately.

Heavy Metal. Musical category characterized by high-volume, maximum guitar presence.

High Note. The highest note sung in a particular song which varies according to the musical key of the

High-Speed Dub. A tape copy that is made at several times normal speed. Often used in reference to
tape duplication. High speed dubs are often less costly and have a quicker turn-around time than real
time or at speed dubs. They can be susceptible to problems, so always check your dubs before releasing
them to prospective clients.

Hook. A phrase or melody line that repeats itself in a song; the catchy part to a song.

Hot Mike. A microphone that is turned on.


Glossary Terms - I
By Trenz Pruca

IFPI. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is the organization that represents the
interests of the international recording industry. It comprises a membership of 1400 record producers
and distributors in 76 countries. It also has national groups in 46 countries. The IFPI headquarters is in
London. Regional offices are maintained in Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami, and Moscow.

Impresario. An entertainment entrepreneur.

Indie. Industry slang for "independent." The term is vague and is used to variously refer to smaller
record labels, smaller publishing companies, artists signed to these labels and companies, unsigned
artists, and the music produced by all of these.

Ink. To sign a contract.

Insert. A mix engineering term referring to an external EQ or processor that is being "inserted" on an
individual track.

Inserts. The artwork that accompanies a CD in the form of a booklet or fold-out pamphlet in the CD
jewel case. The front panel is typically 4.695 inches in height and 4.75 inches in width. The insert
contains all liner notes, song titles and times, and sometimes lyrics, photos or other artwork.

In The Can. A phrase borrowed from the film business and used in voice-overs. When a good take is
achieved, it is considered ready for processing or "in the can." It generally means that the director has
the take he wants.

Intellectual Property. Conceptual ideas that can be transferred or fixed on to a tangible medium, such
as a song, book, film, Web site. The "intellectual" component of a work is the expression of ideas, the
"property" refers to the physical form or manifestation of it.


Glossary Terms - J
By Trenz Pruca

J-Card. The artwork on an audio cassette box named for the shape it makes when folded to fit in the

Jacket. The packing for a vinyl album. Usually cardboard to protect the record from damage, as well as
a paper or plastic sleeve that fits over the actual disc to protect it from scratches.

Jewel Case. The clear plastic case that houses a CD and its accompanying artwork. It typically has a
hinged cover and a tray where the CD sits snugly to protect it from dust and scratches. Standard jewel
cases are approximately 3/8" in thickness. CD singles are often sold in "slim" cases which are about 1/4"
thick and contain less artwork (smaller inserts).

Jingle. A short phrase of music usually accompanied by lyrics used to convey a commercial message.


Glossary Terms - K
By Trenz Pruca


Glossary Terms - L
By Trenz Pruca

Label. A record company.

Larynx. The human voice box containing the vocal chords.

Leader. Conductor or person in charge of the band.

Lead Sheet. A musical notation of a song's melody along with the chord symbols, words and other
pertinent information.

Leader Tape. Reel-to-Reel tape which contains songs separated by white tape for easy access.

License. As a noun, it means a legal permit; as a verb, it is to authorize by legal permit.

Lick. A brief, improvised musical interpolation.

Liner Notes. Musician, songwriting and production credits printed on the packaging of a recording.

Lithography. A printing process as opposed to a photographic process used to inexpensively reproduce

a large quantity of headshots.

LP. An abbreviation for Long Play or Long Playing. This expression dates from the recording discs
developed by Thomas Edison in the 1920s. Although others had been producing discs for twenty years
before that, Edison's LPs had the "longest play" (20 minutes each side). When music was primarily
distributed on vinyl records, LP simply meant any full-length album. The term is less common now, but
it is still occasionally used to refer to full-length CDs.

Lyrics. The words to a song.

Lyric Sheet. A (typed) copy of the lyrics to a song.

Lyricist. The writer of the words to a song.


Glossary Terms - M
By Trenz Pruca

Manager. The person or organization responsible for developing an artist's career. The manager
typically advises the artist on all business decisions and attempts to promote the artist through all
available means, including demos, media coverage, and person-to-person networking.

Market. Selling place; medium where only one type of record is played (i.e., pop, R&B, E&W, Rap,

Marketing. The process of increasing product sales by generating public interest in an artist's music
through various promotional means, including exposure in print, television, radio, and the Internet.

Master. The original recording. The tape from which dubs are made. Also, a finished recording of the
song from which records are pressed and distributed to radio stations and record stores.

Mastering. Final preparation of a recording for mass duplication. This includes evening out audio levels
(so that loudness is consistent throughout the album) and polishing the audio quality of the recording.

Master Use License. A license granting permission to use existing recorded material, including but not
limited to: vocals, music, TV or film dialog, speeches, and sound effects. For sampled material, a Master
Use License is required regardless of the length or amount of material that is used.

Mechanical License. A license granted by a copyright owner for the use of copyrighted material on a
recording. Mechanical licenses are required any time a copyrighted composition is used. Other licenses
may also be required, depending on the nature and medium of the project.

Mechanical Rights Organization. Collection agency for copyright owners of money earned from the
mechanical reproduction of their songs.

Mechanical Royalties. Moneys earned for use of a copyright in mechanical reproductions, most notably
records and tapes.

MIDI. Abbreviation for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A standard digital language/interface for
transmitter-receivers (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter, UART) that enables electronic
instruments and editing devices (synthesizers, computers, drums machines, etc.) to communicate with
each other.

Mike. Attaching a wireless transmitter to an actor's body or clothes to record dialogue.

Mix. The final audio product combining all the elements into one composite soundtrack. "Mix" also
applies to the act of creating the mix. This is sometimes referred to as the "mixdown."

Mixer. A control panel that allows the engineer to combine the input signals from several channels (each
channel could be a different input device -- guitar, synthesizer, microphone, etc.) into one or more output
channels. The mixing board gives the sound operator level control and basic tone control of the input
signals, as well as the volume and tone control of the combined (mixed) output. The goal of mixing is to
get a well-balanced level set. Mixing also refers to the process of equalization which uses more
advanced mixing boards that can achieve a greater audio quality.


Glossary Terms - M
By Trenz Pruca

Modulate. To change from one key to another in a song.

Monitor. A speaker for use in recording studios.

Mono. Short for Monophonic. A descriptive word for sound systems that have only one sound channel.

MOR. "Middle of the Road"; songs that may be classified as easy listening.

Motif. The shortest significant melody of a song or theme.

MP3. Abbreviation for MPEG Audio Layer-3, it is a compression system for digital audio. The MP3
format is one of three compression systems derived from MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)
technology. The MP3 format compresses digitized audio data. The MP3 reduces the number of
"bytes" (unit amount of digital data) in an audio file by a factor of 12. This reduces the file size of an
audio file (to 1/12 its original size) so that it can be quickly and efficiently transmitted over the Internet.
An MP3 may be downloaded in minutes rather than an uncompressed CD audio file which could take

Music Contracts. There are almost countless forms of contracts that are used in the music business, but
most commonly are recording contracts, artist management contracts, finders fee contracts, and general
release contracts.

Music Publisher. The individual or company who:

1. Screen songs and gets them commercially recorded.

2. Exploits the copyrights.
3. Protects the copyrights.
4. Collects income from performance, mechanical synchronization and printing rights both in the
United States and in foreign countries.


Glossary Terms -N
By Trenz Pruca

Neutral Demo. A demo that doesn't sound like it's for one particular artist, but best represents the song
whereby it can be recorded by anybody.

Nondestructive Editing. Nondestructive editing means that all of your original audio files remain
completely intact, even though in Jam it appears as though they have been changed. All editing features
in Jam are completely nondestructive.

Non-Linear Editing. Putting scenes together on a computer using film editing software capable of
moving them around, and/or out of order, for ease in building a demo tape, or a scene in a movie or


Glossary Terms -O
By Trenz Pruca

Off-Card. A union musician working on a non-union project is known to be working ‘off-card.'

One Sheet. A marketing document created by a record label that summarizes in marketing terms, the
credentials of an artist or band; as well as describing in summary form, the promotion and marketing
plans the label has developed to help sell the record. It also includes interesting facts about an act's
fanbase and target audience, as well as all the essential promotion, marketing, and sales tactics that the
label will use to help convince a distributor to carry and get behind a new release.

One Stop. Wholesale record dealer that sells the records of several manufacturers to juke box operators
and record sores.

Option. Acquiring the rights to a story, such as a current events, true-life story, that guarantees that no
one else can work with the party who sold the story. Options typically last for a year or less.

Out Takes. Parts of an original recording or taping that will not be used in the finished product.

Overdub. The addition of instruments or voices to pre-existing tracks.


Glossary Terms - P
By Trenz Pruca

P.A. A production assistant who usually gophers and manages the extras.

Packager. One who selects and combines talent for shows.

Pan. A very bad review from a critic.

Payola. Secret payment to broadcasters to play certain records.

Pen. To compose or write.

Per Diem. Money given to performers and crew when on tour to cover the expense of food and other
personal incidentals.

Performing Right. Rights granted by U.S. copyright law which states that one may not publicly
perform a copyrighted musical work without the owner's permission.

Performing Rights Organization. Society whose purpose is to collect monies earned from public
performances of songs by users of music and to distribute these to the writers and publishers of these
songs in a proportion that reflects as accurately as possible the amount of performances of each
particular song.

Performance Royalties. Monies earned from use of one's song on radio, television and other users of

Phase. Two sound waves are said to be "in phase" when their frequencies are synchronized. This will
produce "constructive interference" that will boost the level of that frequency. Two sound waves are said
to be "out of phase" when their when their frequencies are non-synchronous. This will produce
"destructive interference" at the points where the respective waves have opposite polarities. Destructive
interference is a "cancelling out" of sections of the combined sound.

Phonorecord. Any device which transmits sound other than that which accompanies a motion picture or
other audio-visual work.

Photo-Offset Reproduction. Reproduction of musical manuscript by printing press.

Pick. A song that has been reviewed by the trades and projected to have success.

Pipeline. A listing or schedule of music projects in some stage of production.

Pirating. The unauthorized reproduction and selling of sound recordings (i.e., records, tapes, CDs).

Platinum Album. Certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that an album has
sold a minimum of one million units.

Platinum Single. Certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that a single has sold a
minimum of one million units.


Glossary Terms - P
By Trenz Pruca

Plug. Broadcast of a song; to push for a song's performance.

Plugola. Secret payment to broadcasters for free mention of products on the air.

Points. A percentage of money producers and artists earn on the retail list price of 90 percent of all
records sold.

Pop. A term derived by shortening "popular" music. It describes a music genre that has the greatest
audience appeal. It appeals both to younger audiences as well as adults, but tends to be marketed toward
the younger (and more profitable) demographic. Pop often includes crossover hits from R&B, Country,
Rock, AC and some of their sub-genres. The music classified by "pop" has catchy hooks, memorable
melodies, energetic backbeats and a structure repetition through a verse and chorus pattern (usually).

Post. A short form of "post production." This is the term applied to all the work that goes into a
production after the talent leaves. This includes such processes as editing, multi-tracking, music
selection, adding special effects and mixing.

Presence. A performer's ability to command attention onstage, even when surrounded by other actors.

Press. The manufacture of a large quantity of records duplicated from a master for commercial sale.

Press Kit. A presentation including newspaper clippings, review of movie, television, musical and
theater productions, a biography, headshot and resume given to the media and interested industry
professionals. Also called a press package.

Print. Producer's cue that an engineer's final mix is good enough to "print" or use.

Printed Edition. A song published in the form of sheet music.

Producer. The individual who oversees the making of a single or long playing record, radio, television
or stage show from inception to completion.

Production. The technical aspects of the music industry, including sound systems and lighting
requirements as well as video and recording process.

Professional Manager. The person in charge of screening new material for music publishers and of
obtaining commercial recordings of songs in his company's catalog.

Program Director. Radio station employee who determines which songs shall be broadcast.

Promoter. One who secures talent from an agent for the production and presentation of a performance;
the primary risk taker in the event.

Proof Sheet. After a roll of film is shot and developed, it is printed onto sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 or 11 x 14
inch paper, holding up to 36 exposures. Use a photographer's loop to check the lighting and focus.


Glossary Terms - P
By Trenz Pruca

Publication. The printing and distribution of copies of a work to a public by sole or other transfer of
ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.

Public Domain. Unprotected by copyright due to an expired copyright or caused by an invalid copyright

Publicist. A person hired to create awareness of a person or project.

Publisher. A person or company who, on behalf of an artist, seeks out people to use the artist's music,
issues licenses, collects all licensing fees and royalties, pays the artist, and splits the proceeds. The
publishing contract assigns the administration rights to the publisher as well as all the rights of the
copyright owner.


Glossary Terms - Q
By Trenz Pruca

Queued Up. Previewing a tape and having it set to start playing at the beginning of a song.


Glossary Terms - R
By Trenz Pruca

R&B. Rhythm and blues; "soul" music.

R&R. Rock and Roll.

Range. The vocal extent of a singer's voice, from its lowest note to its highest.

Rave. An extremely good review from a critic.

Recording Contracts. Legal documents detailing an agreement between a record label and recording

Red Book Standard. The format standard for the audio CD that allows universal compatibility with any
Compact Disc and any CD player. The format stipulates that the audio be recorded in stereo at 44.1kHz
sample rate with a 16 bit word, among other things.

Reel. A video tape compilation of an actor or director's best work.

Regional. A commercial airing in a part of the United States.

Release (marketing). The issuing of a record by the record company, or a film by a studio.

Release (legal). Legal document releasing producer from liability, usually refers to talent allowing the
producer to use his or her likeness on film and soundtrack.

Retouching. A photographic process whereby certain flaws in a picture are covered up or removed.

Reverb. Reverberation is caused by repeated echoes of sound that gradually fade away. The echoes are
too quick, too numerous, and too irregular for the ear to distinguish individually. This occurs in
environments that allow persistent echoes to occur such as a room or hall with hard-sufaced walls. A
reverberation unit is an electronic device that can simulate natural reverbaration (and can do so
accurately enough to sound like the source is in different kinds of rooms, from a small concert hall to a
cathedral). The individual echoes are repeated randomly and the quantity of the echoes is increased as
they fade away.

The Rideout. The Rideout is the music that begins on the downbeat of the last word of the song. Just as
all songs have a Vamp, every Chorus comes packaged with a Rideout.

Rider. A contract between a performance venue and an entertainer detailing the finalized (negotiated)
terms and conditions of a performance, such as performance length, compensation (i.e. travel expenses,
lodging), profit share, and payment.

Road Manager. Traveling supervisor hired by artist to coordinate details of concert tours on behalf of
the artist.

Roomtone. The sound a room makes without anyone in it. Everyone has a different sound, so recording
in the same room is sometimes critical when trying to match voice parts from one session to another.

Royalty. Money earned from use of the record or song.


Glossary Terms - S
By Trenz Pruca

Sample Clearance. The authorized use of a copyrighted sound recording to be incorporated into a new

SASE. Means "self-addressed, stamped envelope."

Scansion. The analysis of verse to show its meter.

Score. The compilation of pages of sheet music that contains all the music for a show.

Scoring. Music added to help fill scenes or dialogue cut by a director during post-production.

Self-Contained Artist. An artist who writes and performs his or her own material. Also refers to artists
who require no production or personnel assistance from promoters.

Session. Meeting during which time musicians and vocalists make a recording.

SFX. Abbreviation for sound effects. Sometimes also written as EFX. or FX.

Sheet Music. The pages containing the music and lyrics to a single song, as opposed to a score
containing all the music for a show.

Showcase (musical). A presentation of new songs and/or talent.

Sibilance. A drawn out or excessive "S" sound during speech. In extreme cases, the "S" sound is
accompanied by a whistle. Sibilance is annoying and a hindrance to some voice actors. "S" is a popular
letter with copywriters and is found in most lines except the last one.

Signature Song. A song that is primarily associated with a single famous singer, as "Singing In the
Rain" was with Gene Kelly.

Single. A small record played at 45 rpms containing two selections, one on each side; record released
because of the expectation by the record company that "A" side would achieve success.

Song Plugger. One who auditions songs for performers.

Song Shark. One who profits from dealing with songwriters by deceptive methods.

S/PDIF. An abbreviation for Sony/Philips Digital Interface, a standard audio transfer file format. It is
usually found on digital audio equipment such as a DAT machine or audio processing device. It allows
the transfer of audio from one file to another without the conversion to and from an analog format,
which could degrade the signal quality. The most common connector used with an S/PDIF interface is
the RCA connector, the same one used for consumer audio products. An optical connector is also
sometimes used.

Spec. Short for speculative. It usually means volunteering your services and postponing payment until a
project sells.

Speed. Exclamation that indicates the film and the audiotape are running simultaneously at the correct

Glossary Terms - S
By Trenz Pruca

Split Publishing. When the publishing rights to a song are divided among two or more publishers.

Spot. A commercial for radio or television.

Standard. A song that continues to be popular for several years.

State-of-the-Art. Contemporary or current.

Statutory Copyright. Status acquired by a composition when it is registered with the Copyright Office
or is published with the proper copyright notice.

Stereo. Short for Stereophonic. The separation of recorded sound onto two distinct channels. Different
audio tracks are split and sent to two different channels. When played back through two different output
channels (two separate speakers), the result more effectively imitates the acoustic quality of a live
performance than a "monophonic" recording (where all sound comes through one channel).

Storyboard. A frame-by-frame artist's drawing of key scenes (with the lyrics printed underneath)
serving as a rough plan for the way a music video should appear and what camera angles the director
should use.

Strike. To remove something from a set, or tear it down.

Studio (sound). An audio isolation room where the talent performs, with an adjoining control room.

Stylus. A needle made of steel or gemstone (diamond) that is housed in a magnetic cartridge on the arm
of a phonograph.

Subpublisher. The company that publishes a song or catalog in a territory other than that under the
domain of the original publisher.

Subpublishing. When the original publisher contracts his song or catalog to be handled by a foreign
publisher for that territory.

Subwoofer. A speaker designed to produce the lowest audio frequencies at an adequate volume. Most
subwoofers, or "subs" as they're commonly called, are designed to operate from 80 Hz downwards, as
the ear can usually pinpoint the source of any higher frequencies. The bass units of small three-piece
systems are commonly referred to as subwoofers, but they often have limited output below 50 Hz or so.

Sweeten. The addition of new parts to existing rhythms and vocal tracks and horns.

Synchronization. The placing of music in timed-relation to film.

Synchronization Right. The right to use a musical composition in (timed-relation to) a film or video


Glossary Terms - T
By Trenz Pruca

Tails Out. Recording tape wound on a reel so that the end of the soundtrack is on the outside. A tape
wound "tails out" is usually marked with blue adhesive tape, while one wound "heads out" is usually
marked with red adhesive tape.

Take. The attempted recording of a musician or vocalist. The "attempted" refers to the usual
circumstance in which it usually takes several takes to get the recording right from the musician,
producer and sound mixers standpoint.

Talkback. The system that allows people in the control room to talk with the talent in the studio.

Tear Sheets. An actual copy of a print ad torn out of a newspaper or magazine and put in an artist's

THX. A set of technologies from Lucasfilm first developed for the cinema and subsequently for the
home. In the theater, THX standardizes the sonic environment by stipulating not only the acoustics
required but the playback equipment as well. In the home, both electronic and speaker strategies are
employed in order to have the program material more closely match that of the dubbing stage.

Time Reversion Clause. Contractual agreement in which a publisher agrees to secure recording and
release for songwriter's material within a certain period of time. Failure to secure recording and release
triggers reversion of the song rights to the writer.

Top Forty. Radio station format where records played are only those contained in lists of the best-
selling records.

Top One Hundred. Lists published in the trades of the top selling singles for a particular market.

Track. One of the several components of special recording tape that contains recorded sounds, which is
mixed with the other tracks for a finished recording of the song; the recording of all the instruments or
voice of a particular music section; music and/or voices previously recorded.

Trades. Industry newspapers and magazines read by all professionals to keep up with trends and news in
the entertainment business.

Transparencies. The slide form of a photograph.


Glossary Terms - U
By Trenz Pruca

Union Scale. Minimum wage scale earned in employment by members of AFTRA, AF of M, SAG, etc.

Upstage. The rear area of the stage farthest from the audience; also used to describe an actor's attempt to
distract audience attention from what another actor is doing.


Glossary Terms - V
By Trenz Pruca

Vamp. All printed copies of songs begin with a few bars of music called the Vamp or Intro. It is
recognizable as the first musical statement at the top of the copy and it is further identified by the
absence of a logic.

Verse. The selection of a song that precedes the chorus or is the A section in AABA pattern songs. The
Verse follows the Vamp and is the first vocalizing of the text of the song. The Verse seldom contains
heavyweight musical material. Since it is so scored in order to give preeminence to the information
contained in the lyric, most often Verses can be ad libded without effort.

Voice Over. The act of providing one's voice to a media project. Called voice-over because the voice is
usually mixed over the top of music and sound effects.


Glossary Terms - W
By Trenz Pruca

Walla. The sound of many voices talking at once, such as at a party or in a restaurant. Also known as
"walla walla," this old sound effects term is derived from the idea that if a group of people got together
and just kept saying "walla" over and over, it would create a good sound ambiance for a crowded scene.

Wet. A voice or sound with reverb added to it.

Windscreen. A foam cover or fabric guard placed over a microphone to help prevent popped "P's" and
other plosive sounds. Sometimes called a "windsock" or "pop filter."

Work-For-Hire. Contractual basis whereby a record label or production company employs a composer
or lyricist to create music or songs for a movie with copyright ownership to be retained by the producer
or company.

Writer's Signature. Unique style of the writer.


Glossary Terms - X
By Trenz Pruca


Glossary Terms - Y
By Trenz Pruca


Glossary Terms - Z
By Trenz Pruca