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Adaptr Blog
Music Terminology 101 - Say What Now?
Posted by Bryn Boughton
January 25, 2021

Music is powerful and incorporating the right sound into your app can make all the difference for your customers. However, it can be a confusing landscape even for the most well-meaning licensor. We’ve put together some common music terms to help simplify this complex world. 


Composition (sometimes called an underlying composition) - The underlying lyrics or melody created by a songwriter. The composition is usually controlled by a Publisher.


Master Recording (sometimes called a sound recording) - The recorded version of a composition from which copies are made. It is usually controlled by a Record Label. 


Royalties - payments that go to recording artists, songwriters, composers, publishers, and other copyright holders for the right to use their intellectual property.


P Text  - The ℗ is the copyright symbol used to provide notice of copyright in the sound recording itself, including the arrangement and production. (The “P” is for “phonorecord”).


C Text - The © symbol indicates a copyright claim in the musical composition including the lyrics and music.


Copyright Control - "Copyright control" means that copyright is retained by the writer and not assigned to a third party. It is used to indicate that a work/recording is self-published, or in lieu of there being a known publisher.


Interactive music - The user chooses exactly what they want to listen to on the service and what songs are played next. 


Non-interactive music - Non-interactive music streaming differs from ondemand, or interactive, streaming because it allows users to play music but does not allow them to select the song that plays next.


Record label - The term "record label" comes from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which displays the company’s name and logo. Record labels are companies that manufacture, distribute, and promote the recordings of affiliated musicians.


Publisher - 

The term music publisher originally referred to publishers who issued hand-copied or printed sheet music. A music publisher or publishing company is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. A songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure placements for music and promote existing compositions.

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