Glossary Of Common Musical Terms

1. A&R Person:The person in the Artist & Repertoire department of a record company who, among other things, selects songs and Artists.

2. AC:Adult Contemporary. A radio form for adult-oriented artists such as Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Phil Collins, etc.

3. AOR:Album Oriented Rock. A radio format that plays rock cuts that aren’t released as singles.

4. A Side/B Side:The A side of a single record that the record company promotes in hopes it will be a hit. The B side is it’s flip side.

5. Administration:The handling of all legal aspects of publishing.

6. Advance:Money given in advance of royalties.

7. Album Cut:A song on an album; not a single.

8. Bullet:Term used for a song moving quickly up the charts.

9. Casting: Deciding which Artist(s) would be right for a song.

10. Catalog:The entire list of songs belonging to a Writer or Publisher.

11. Charts:Weekly list of top songs determined by radio play and sales.

12. CHR:Contemporary Hits Radio. The songs that fit the Hot 100. Usually pop songs you hear on teen-oriented radio.

13. Copyright:The exclusive legal right to the publication and sale of a song.  Also, “copyright” is slang for an enduring song.

14. Cover:A commercially released recording of a song.

15. Crossover:A song that does well in more than one radio format.

16. Cue Sheets:A movie/TV form that credits music used in a production. Used by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to pay songwriters.

17. Cut:A song that makes it onto record. “He just got his first cut.”

18. Demo:A tape recording made by a songwriter or artist containing a sampling of their material.

19. Engineer:A highly skilled operator of recording studio equipment.

20. Final Mix:The finished product of recorded tracks of music, combined to a two track master.

21. Folio:A book of assorted sheet music. Folios sales on hit songs can be very lucrative.

22. Gold Album/Record:An album or single whose sales reach 500,000 units.

23. Grand Rights:The rights to use a song in a major stage production such as a musical or revue.

24. Hold:When a publisher or producer keeps a song with the intention of using it in a recording.

25. Hook:The part of the song that “hooks” the listener, either because it’s very catchy, or because it’s repeated a lot.

26. Independent:A songwriter, publisher or label not affiliated with a “major”.

27. Lead Sheet:Written copy of the music containing the melody line, lyrics and chord changes.

28. Logging:A listing of songs played by radio stations. Determines royalty payments.

29. Master:A finished tape recording used to make the record, or term used for tape from which demo copies are made.

30. Mechanical Royalty:The money paid to you for record sales.

31. Mix:To mix is to change the levels of each instrument in a recording.

32. MOR:Middle of the road music. Also called Adult Contemporary. See AC.

33. NAC:New Adult Contemporary. New Age, soft jazz/R&B.

34. “Needle Drop” Demo:A radio-ready master quality demo (i.e. record-like fidelity)

35. Outside Songs:Material used, but not written by, the Artist.

36. Overdub:To add new sounds to a recording already made.

37. Performing Rights Organization:A Society (such as BMI or ASCAP) which keeps track of radio and TV performances, collects the royalties, and then pays the songwriters and publishers.

38. Platinum:A single record or album whose sales reach one million units.

39. Plugging:Actively working to get songs recorded by artists or placed in movies and TV productions.

40. Producer:The person who oversees the recording of a song or album. He hires the sidemen and directs the recording.

41. Professional Manager:Works at a publishing company. He finds songs and “works the catalog” trying to get cuts.

42. Program Director: Determines which songs will be played at his radio station.

43. Prosody:The perfect marriage of lyric and melody.

44. Publisher:An agent for songs. He acquires them, “runs” them and “administrates” them.

45. R&B:Rhythm and Blues, commonly used to mean Black music.

46. Royalty:The money you get paid for the use of your song.

47. “Run” Songs:To try to get songs placed with artists.

48. Self-contained Artist:A performer who writes and sings his own material.

49. Staff Writer:Gets paid advances to write exclusively for publishing companies.

50. Tracks:The inputs of a tape recorder which allow single or multiple instruments and vocals. Studios have 8, 16, 24, or more tracks. “Laying down tracks,” i.e. recording a song.

51. Trades:The magazines that deal with the music business, like Billboard, Cashbox, R&R, Hits, etc.

52. UC:Urban Contemporary. A radio format that plays “street” oriented R&B, i.e. ra

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