“I just got signed with an indie label that gave me a pretty good advance. My manager is a super cool guy, and they’re helping me with digital distribution!”. Does any of that sound familiar, but also completely confusing? Because of pop culture, there are so many music terms that are well known today. But, if you asked people to define them, they probably wouldn’t be able to.
They’ve heard of an EP, but are not sure how they differ from a demo. They understand the idea of copyright but are clueless when it comes to its relation to a blanket license. As an aspiring musician, however, you can’t afford the luxury of not knowing basic music terms. And you should want to understand them, too. Using the correct terminology when speaking to other industry people will do wonders to convey your professionalism, and seriousness towards your goal.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most important music terms you should know right now.
Top 6 music terms
- Demo: This is a small collection of songs (sometimes even just one) that are recorded and sent to different radio stations, record labels, or TV stations depending on where you are in your music journey. For new artists, it’s a showcase of their abilities that they can send to record labels to hopefully be signed. For existing artists, it might be sent to a radio station in order to showcase a song from their upcoming album. It’s important to note however, demos are not for public distribution which means you’ll never find a demo recording at your local record store.
- Door-split deal. For those of you that are just starting out in your careers, it’s likely you’ll be playing lots and lots of smaller venues. Cafes, bars, restaurants – any place where a group of people can hear you. The idea of a door-split deal is talking about how you’ll be paid. Instead of giving you a set amount upfront, you and the venue will split whatever is made that night at the door in ticket sales. While it does mean you might end up walking away with little cash, if it’s a well-frequented spot, you could end up with a lot more than you expected. This method is mostly used for greener musicians, so it’s one of the important music terms a beginner should know about.
- EP. EP stands for extended play. This is a collection of fewer than 5 songs placed in one record. Not short enough to be considered a single (one individual song release), but too short to be a full album (6+ tracks). It’s used mostly when introducing a new artist(s) to the public, to promote an upcoming tour, or to keep fans interested between the previous and upcoming album releases.
- Blanket license. Ever thought about those songs you hear in mall elevators? Someone wrote those, and that someone is probably getting paid for that. But how? And is it the same system as when songs play on the radio? Otherwise, how does the artist make money? Indeed, they are both using the same system: blanket licensing. This is one of the music terms that revolves around getting paid for your art. A mall or a radio station will purchase a blanket license for a song, which involves them paying an annual fee to have blanket use on the music. This way, they can play it as many times as they’d like for their customers without having to shell out for every single spin.