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(The BLOMIA) The Big List Of Music Industry Acronyms



(The BLOMIA) The Big List Of Music Industry Acronyms

Just like a container full of the UKs leading DIY outdoor decking finishing spread; this post pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin (is that the weakest opening line I’ve ever written to a blog? It’s certainly up there). After explaining to the same artist for the umpteenth time that here at Sentric Music we look after his PRS and not his PPL (although we can do both), he spat his dummy out and complained that “they all sounded the same to him”. After accusing him of being a big acronym bigot I realised he had a genuine point so a blog post was in order.

Here are a bunch of music industry acronyms you might come across yet have no idea what they are. Get this post bookmarked for easy reference and you’re laughing – and if you think I’ve missed any then leave me a comment or drop me an email/tweet and I’ll add it to the list.

I’m going to do my best to restrain from any ‘ROFL’, ‘LMAO’, ‘WTF’ jokes. I have a feeling I might fail.

So I thought I’d put them into categories and then list them alphabetically FTW! (told you).

The World of Publishing

CAE – from the French ‘Compositeur, Auteur and Editeur’ (Composer, Author & Publisher)

When you join a PRO (Performing Rights Organisation – we’ll come onto that in a bit don’t worry) you’re given a CAE number. This is basically you’re identification number so that any money that you’ll make from your publishing rights can find their way back to you.

ICE – International Copyright Enterprise

This is the system used by the PRS (Performing Rights Society – the UK’s sole PRO) to create, store and administer all the information regarding the songs they look after. Within a song registration you usually find information regarding the composer (the person who wrote the music), the author (the person who wrote the lyrics), their CAE numbers (which tells you who PRO they belong to) and their publishers CAE number (which also tells you which PRO they belong to).

ISWC – International Standard Work Code

An eleven digit alphanumeric code given to each song registered to any PRO worldwide which makes it uniquely identifiable. Using either this or a ‘Tunecode’ (which is essentially the same thing but shorter), royalties that are generated by that song can find their way back to the correct PRO and then back to the author, composer and publisher.

PRO – Performing Rights Organisation

These are the guys who look after your performing rights and all the information to do with your individual songs. In the UK we have PRS For Music who are the lovely people we deal with here at Sentric Music, but there are various PRO’s for different territories (which are listed below). Basically if you want to make money from your publishing rights then you simply HAVE to register with a PRO (or use Sentric Music who’ll do it all for you). Not sure what Music Publishing actually is? Then read this handy guide I made last month which covers all the basics.

The World of Records

ISRC – International Standard Recording Code

A twelve digit alphanumeric code given to every song registered with the relevant body in that territory. Just as the ISWC code; royalties that are generated by that recording can find their way back to the correct copyright owner. Within the code contains the information; the country of origin, the organisation who administers the registration (the PPL in the UK), the year of registration and then finally the unique identifying number. Remember: ISWC are for songs and ISRC are for recordings.

UPC – Universal Product Code

Or as most normal people call them; barcodes.

LC – Label Code

A four or five digit code given to a record label to identify who has released a record.

Misc Terms

A&R – Artist and Repertoire

The person at a record label or publisher whose job it is to find new talent, and then be the contact at the company for the artist in question. Want to know what makes A&R tick? Then read this rather useful blog post; ‘Ask the A&R’.

AAC – Advanced Audio Coding

Like MP3, but in theory a bit better. AAC delivers a better quality sound at a similar file size, but is still quite far away from toppling the trusty old MP3 as the standard digital music format. I’d still recommend using high quality MP3’s rather than AAC’s at the time of writing.

AIFF – Audio Interchange File Format

Basically Apple’s version of a WAV file (cue sound of sound technology geeks spitting out their coffee after reading that description). When your lovely music has been recorded then it’ll either be in AIFF or WAV; a massive filesize but crammed full of audio quality goodness before you compress the crap out of it into an MP3 so it’s easier to send/store. As I said above; a high quality MP3 will suffice in the vast majority of situations within the music industry; so rip everything at 320KBPS (kilobites per second) and you’ll be fine. Don’t know how to change a WAV/AIFF into a high quality MP3? Then read my handy ‘7 Steps To Metadata Eutopia’ guide.

DRM – Digital Rights Management

This is the bit of software that major labels thought would save them before they realised that when people want to pirate music, they REALLY want to pirate music and whatever gets thrown at them, they will always find a way around it. It was supposed to stop the sharing and copying of digital music files, but pretty much failed outright.

EAN – European Article Number

A European barcode which has one extra digit over a UPC (Universal Product Code). There is probably a rather valid reason for this knocking about somewhere, but I’ll be buggered if that question ever comes up in a pub quiz so you’ll have to accept this definition for now.

FLAC –Free Lossless Audio Codec

Yet another digital media file type which no one ever seems to use. I say yet again; stick with a high quality MP3 as that’s what most people in the industry use (and before I get loads of FLAC fan boys kicking off at me just chill out for a second; the whole point of this blog is that it’s written from an industry perspective and the simple fact is if an artist sent me their new single as a FLAC file I’d just sigh quite heavily and consider making that career change into the world of soft floor laying and ceramics with my dad).

IP – Intellectual Property

As a musician you’ve got tons of this stuff. With every song, lyric, riff, hook, chorus, breakdown etc you create you’ve got a shiny new bit of intellectual property to call your own. IP refers to something that is rightly yours but isn’t tangible and even though it doesn’t physically exist you can still sell it or exploit it in various ways to make money from it. It is, basically, outrageously important. Our friends over at CMU do a course giving a good overview about this which you can check out here.

KBPS – Kilobits Per Second

There is usually a number preceding this acronym and the higher the number the better the quality of the file. I keep harping on about high quality MP3’s which should be 320KBPS. Again, read this Metadata blog for more information about audio quality of MP3s.

MP3 I won’t insult your intelligence on this one.

P2P – Peer to Peer

Kazaa, Limewire, Bearshare, (the original) Napster: all P2P clients that allow the easy transferring of data between two computers over the internet. Sounds quite nice until you realise the majority of the data being transferred is copyrighted and therefore illegal to swap over said clients.

WAV –Waveform Audio File

Just like an AIFF, a WAV is a high quality digital file of your music. When you’re successful in landing a sync you may often be asked for the WAV file of the song so make sure you keep them rather safe. Also; NEVER reproduce CD’s to sell that are MP3’s burnt onto audio CD; ALWAYS use the WAVs or you’re making yourself sound worse than you actually are.


The majority of these are pretty much self-explanatory.

ABO – Association of British Orchestras

AIM – Association of Independent Music Nice guys who do regular events which UK based artists should definitely check out.

AMRA – A PRO that specialises in the digital songwriting royalties generated from streaming via the likes of Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. The world of digital royalties are confusing as hell, but luckily for you we’ve done a blog about it because we’re nice like that.

APRA – Australian Performing Rights Association Australia’s version of the PRS.

ASCAP – American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers Unlike the UK where the PRS is pretty much the only option you have in terms of signing up to a PRO, in the States you have three choices. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

BASCA – British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors

BMI – Broadcast Music Incorporated Another US PRO alongside ASCAP and SESAC.

BPI – British Phonographic Industry Pretty much the spokespeople of the British music industry.

CISAC – International Confederation of Societies of Authors & Composers Effectively the ‘trade union’ of all PRO’s. Robin Gibb of Bee Gees fame is the president.

GEMA – Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs & mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte Germany’s version of the PRS

GS1 – Global Standards The guys who create barcodes.

IFPI – International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Effectively the ‘trade union’ of all record labels.

IMRO – Irish Music Rights Organisation Ireland’s version of the PRS.

JASRAC – Japanese Society for Rights of Authors & Composers Japan’s version of the PRS.

KODA – (something Danish) Denmark’s version of the PRS.

MCPS – Mechanical Copyright Protection Society These guys collect the Mechanical royalties that your music publishing rights generate from the reproduction of your music (CD/Vinyl pressings, digital sales) as well as TV/Radio income. Check out this blog about making money from your publishing rights for more information.

MMF – Music Managers Forum Effectively the ‘trade union’ for Music Managers. If you’re a UK based music manager then you want to get yourself involved with these guys.

MPA – Music Publishers Association Effectively the ‘trade union’ for music publishers within the UK. Lovely people who often run various courses and events that are worth checking out if you want a career within the UK music industry.

MPG – Music Producers Guild

MU – Musicians Union The trade union for UK based musicians; offer essential advice as well as useful bits and bobs such as instrument insurance.

PPL – Phonographic Performance Limited These guys are another essential income stream for all artists. They collect money for those who own the master recordings of a song and also the performers on said records. There is money generated every time the record is played on the radio or receives TV exposure. Essential stuff! Be sure to get on board.

PRS – Performing Rights Society The UK’s version of the PRS… Oh. These guys collect all your money from gigs, radio airplay, TV exposure etc for your music publishing rights. Again; read this post for more information on the money available.

RIAA –Recording Industry Association of America The RIAA is to the US what the BPI is to the UK.

SACEM – Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et éditeurs de Musique France’s version of the PRS.

SESAC – Society of European Stage Authors & Composers Another US PRO alongside ASCAP and BMI. (I know; why European in the title? It goes back to when they originally started).

SGAE – Sociedad General de Autores y Editores Spain’s version of the PRS.

STIM – Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå Sweden’s version of the PRS.

TONO – (something Norwegian) Norway’s version of the PRS.

VPL – Video Performance Limited Part of the PPL; these guys collect all the royalties generated from when your music video has been played on various TV stations worldwide.

So there you go! Hopefully a handy reference for you all to have in your book marks. Feel free to let me know what I’ve missed or comment in the usual way.