80+ terms every artist should know – Spotify for Artists

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned pro, you know the music industry has a language of its own. Knowing the lingo is a smart starting point for making informed career decisions, so we’ve put together a mini dictionary of musical terms here for easy reference so you can boost your knowledge or just refresh your memory. Additionally, many definitions feature links to more detailed information, expert interviews on the subject matter, or sub-glossaries on specific music fields such as streaming, recording, and distribution.

360 offer: A contract between a record company and an artist in which the record company receives a percentage of other revenue generated by the artist, not just from their recorded music or live performances. A 360, which is so named because it involves a full circle of artist revenue streams, often includes merchandising, touring, publishing, endorsements, etc., in addition to records and singles.

A&R: Short for Artists and Repertoire, it is the department of a record company or music publisher responsible for discovering new talent and signing them into the company. A&R is also working to guide the artist’s career during his signing.
Read more: How Emerging Artists Can Stand Out With A&R Reps

artist manager: An executive in charge of promoting the career of an artist or a group so that it is as successful as possible. The manager guides the artist’s business decisions and serves as a representative and advisor for business transactions.
Learn more: What to look for in a manager

Advance: A pre-payment made to an artist by their record label or publisher either upon signing or specifically to pay for the recording process. Advances are generally recoverable, which means the artist will not receive any more money from the label or publisher until they have earned enough revenue from their music to cover the original amount of the advance. .

big three: The three biggest record labels in the music industry: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

General license: A license, often issued by a performing rights organization (PRO), that gives an entity permission to play any song in the rights holder’s catalog for a set period of time. Businesses that use blanket licenses can include television and radio stations, restaurants, social networks, and streaming services.

Digital Service Provider (DSP): A streaming platform (like Spotify!) or online store that distributes digital audio to consumers.


PE: Short for “extended play”, an EP is a “mini-album” that is significantly shorter than a standard album. EPs usually include three to six songs.

EPK: Short for “electronic press kit”, an EPK is a digital promotional set of assets that an artist or their publicist sends to journalists, radio DJs, record labels, booking agents, etc. to provide a summary of the artist’s career and later work. Assets typically include a biography, promotional images, current singles and videos, social media links, and highlights of the artist’s stream, sales, and radio stats (see also: a sheet).


LP: Short for “long playing”, an LP historically referred to a 12-inch phonograph record. Now that means any full album, roughly considered to be around 40 minutes or more.


Merchandise: Short for merchandising, merchandising is any item featuring the artist’s likeness, logo, or other exclusive design for sale to fans at concerts or online. Merch can be almost anything, but standard items include apparel, posters, stickers, buttons, and physical recorded music like vinyl, tapes, or CDs.
Read more: Fan Study, Merch Edition

Metaverse: A virtual world rendered to look like a three-dimensional space where users are digital avatars who can interact with each other and with the environment. An example is Roblox, where users can enjoy Spotify Island.

NFT: Non-fungible token. An NFT is a unique digital collectible whose ownership is tracked through the blockchain. Musical NFTs may be unique or limited editions, and may include exclusive recordings or artwork.

Leaf: A one-page document that highlights an artist’s new music and summarizes their biography, stats and accomplishments. It is given to the media, promoters, or anyone else who can further the artist’s career in some way, such as signing them up for a gig, interviewing them, or performing. his music.

Performing Rights Organization (PRO): An organization that ensures that songwriters and other rights holders receive performance royalties generated when their musical works are broadcast or performed in public. PROs also issue licenses for musical works. In the United States, PROs include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR. Outside the United States, organizations that perform this function are known as Performing Rights Societies.
Read more: ASCAP Q&A, BMI Questions and Answers

Per day: Translating “per day” in Latin, a per diem is a daily allowance given to a performer who is usually on tour to cover basic needs like food.


Song identifiers: There are five key codes that are part of the essential metadata of any musical work: IPI identifies the songwriter or composer, ISWC identifies the musical work, ISRC identifies the specific recording, IPN identifies the performers and ISNI links the other four codes together.
Read more: How to Refine Your Song’s Metadata to Get Paid


Split sheet: A document that identifies who did what while writing the songs, and what percentage of royalties each party is entitled to.


Alice P. Darby