January 29, 2017 Henry


Bespoke Records Glossary

If you’re an artist, music publisher, record label or manager (or anyone involved with music and music business!) you should be roughly aware of these terms and what they mean. We’ve highlighted who should be particularly aware of each term, or handle each term on a daily basis: Artist (A ), Songwriter (S ), Publisher (P ), Record Label (R ). Managers need to be fluent in them all to protect their clients!


Short for ‘artists and repertoire’. Point person at record label or publishers who looks after writer/artist on behalf of their company, and interfaces between artist and the more commercial ‘big wigs’ above {A,S,R,P}


Admin. Agreement

Form of publishing agreement where publisher is expected to simply collect money made by compositions for a small(ish) cut (10-20%) {S,P}



Payment of royalties upfront in a large sum. Future royalties are counted against this (i.e. not paid to writer/artist/whoever) until sum is paid back (recouped) {A,R,S,P}



‘Middle man’ company used to distribute recordings to digital stores like Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Music/iTunes. Examples include Tunecore and Distrokid, various different fees/business models {A,R}



Individual or group who feature on recordings and perform live, typically signed to record labels {A,R}


Co-Pub. Agreement

Form of publishing agreement where publisher and songwriter co-own copyrights and share responsibility for marketing, though publisher will usually include administration/collection for their cut (typically 20-35%) {S,P}



Technically any recording where the artist isn’t the songwriter, but more commonly used where the artist is re-recording a version of another artist’s previous recording {R,S,P}



see Splits {S,P}



Music industry company not under control of a major label {P,R}



When the copyright owner allocates certain rights to another party (sometimes for a certain territory), for a limited period of time to exploit them for a royalty cut, e.g. an album licence to a company to distribute, a song licensed to a marketing company to be on an advert {P,R}


Live Agent

Point person managing the ‘live’ aspect of an artist’s career. Talks to promoters, books gigs/festival slots/tours for a cut of the gig revenue {A}



Large and dominant company in the music industry. Only 3 record label majors remain: Sony, Warner and Universal. {P,R}



Point person in charge of artist’s career. Typically would take 20% of gross artist revenue to strategise career, take them to and negotiate with labels/publishers, organise touring, manage budgets, promote artist to a wider network, project manager for release campaigns, etc. {A}



Short for “master recordings”: finished recordings for which copyright is legally owned by whoever paid for and organised the recording sessions, typically a record label {R}


Mechanical Royalty

Royalty paid to song copyright owners by recording companies for the right to record the song {P,R}



Literal physical albums: CD, vinyl, cassette tape, minidisk. Non-digital representations of recordings {R}



Person in charge of putting on a gig. Responsible for event marketing and ticket sales – can often take the financial risk for the event by ‘buying’ it (paying artist/live agent) and taking all ticket revenue {A}


Publishing Agreement

Legal agreement assigning songs/compositions/works from songwriter to publisher. There are three different types: admin, co-pub and full blown agreements (the latter where publisher takes full responsibility for marketing and collection for a cut, anywhere between 30-60%) {S,P}



Owners and administrators of musical copyrights, i.e. songs {S,P}


Publisher’s Share

Monies retained by publisher for exploiting the song copyrights. Historically 50% of revenue (excluding print sheet music and performance royalties), but not necessarily so now as deals have evolved. Watch out for this term and get an explicit definition! Still used to refer to income given to publisher direct from PRO (max 50% performance monies) {S,P}


Record Company/Label

Makers, owners and purveyors of musical recordings (masters) {A,R}


Record Deal

Legal agreement between record label and artist concerning making, ownership and purveyance of master recordings featuring the artist {A,R}



Anything that can be paid for out of your royalties before the royalties are passed to you. Think of it as credit given by a label/publishers to artists/songwriters that needs to be paid back (recouped). Includes advances {A,S,R,P}



When revenue due to the artists/writer held back by the company covers all recoupable expenses (including advances) paid out from company on behalf of (or to) a certain party (e.g. artist/songwriter) {A,S,R,P}



Portion of a sale given to another party by the rights holder {A,S,R,P}



Individuals who create lyrics and music/compositions (i.e. songs), typically signed to publishers {S,P}



Division of songwriting credits (and hence income), e.g. 50% Lennon / 50% McCartney {S,P}


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