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Music Industry Glossary

Talking the Industry Talk


If you're trying to get started in the music business, it can sound like everyone is speaking a different language, with all of their demos, promos, one sheets and whozits and whatzits. Don't know the lingo? Don't sweat it! These basic music industry terms will give you all of the vocab you need to talk like an old hat music biz pro. If you want to know more about any of the terms here, just click on the word and you'll go to a more in depth definition.

360 Deals

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.



Someone who liaises with promoters and venues to book gigs for bands. (Sometimes people use the term "agent" when they really mean "manager" - careful!)

Big Four Labels

Major record labels.


DRM stands for digital rights management. When a file or a CD contains DRM software, there are built in controls on the way you can use that music. This can include blocking you from burning a CD or restricting the number of devices to which you can transfer a downloaded track.


A sample recording of a band's music. Often rough recordings or early versions of "songs in progress."

Digital Distribution

Distribution of music online, i.e., downloads.


A type of CD case that looks like a book instead of a plastic case. The outside is made of paper and the CD sits in a tray inside that is attached to the paper.

Door Split

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

Gatefold Sleeve

Vinyl album sleeve that folds out either opens like a book or fold out in three sections. Usually used for double LPs or for special artwork. Sometimes the gatefold format is used in smaller format for digipack CD cases.

Indie Labels

Self funded labels not tied to any major label/Big Four label.

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