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Music Business Terms and Definitions every Independent Artist should know.

Don’t wait on a lawyer to tell you these terms mean, make it a point to know for yourself. The more you know about the business you’re in, the more you’ll be prepared in a negotiation, investor meeting or your own career moves. Trust me, get to know these terms, what they mean and apply it to your independent music career.

This blog will be updated often, so check check back from time to time for new terms.

(Terms are listed from the most recently added to oldest)


Digital Distribution - Distribution of music online, i.e., downloads, streaming

Door Split - A type of payment deal for a live performance, in which the band and promoter agree to split the proceeds of the show after the promoter has recouped their costs.

Indie (or Independent) Label - Self-funded labels not tied to any major label/Big Four label.

The Big Three (Record Labels) - Warner Bros., Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Entertainment are considered the ”Big Three” and own most of the market share in the music industry. EMI used to part of the group until UMG purchased them Back in 2012.

Manager - Essentially the business manager of a band or artist. Duties vary wildly depending on the level of the band, but generally, managers try to seek out new opportunities for the band while being the contact person for all other people dealing with the band. Also know what your manager does not do.

360 Deal - An increasingly common major label deal structure in which the label not only earns income from the sale of recorded music of their artists but also gets a cut of other artist income, including money generated by touring and merchandise sales.

Mechanical Royalties - Royalties paid to the songwriter per album pressed. Also sometimes called "mechanicals."

One Sheet - The info sheet for a release; this can contain info about the band, the recording or anything else significant about the release. One sheets are used by labels and distributors to sell a new release. They get their name from the fact that they are (or at least they should be) one page long. one sheets are also used in presentations for investors and sponsors when seeking funding and affiliations.

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