Don’t get lost in jargon. See the explanations for the most common terms used in music licensing and audio / video production
Music Licensing Glossary
Short for Advertisement Revenue. Also AdRev is the name of California based company that enables record labels, music publishers, and independent music producers to collect advertisement revenue when their music is used in YouTube videos.
Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an author of a musical work to publish, perform, distribute, and to make derivative musical material. Copyright owners can grant others a license (permission) to use their work.
In today’s Web lingo “copyright” or “copyrighted” often refers to a music track registered in YouTube Contend ID system. Learn more about Content ID and YouTube copyright claims
Before using a piece of music and its recording in a video or a TV program, it must be “cleared” with the respective copyright holders. Music clearance is the process of getting a formal permission to use a copyrighted song in a video production.
Creative Commons (CC) license is one of the public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of copyrighted work. However, even though the music under the Creative Commons license is free to download and to use, there may be limitations that affect how you can use the music in your project. Most common limitation is attribution, which means that you must credit the author, Share-Alike, which means that you must distribute your work under the same terms, and Non-Commercial Use.
The term “music cue” originates from theatrical productions and basically means a musical signal for an actor to do something. In video production, the music cue usually refers to a short musical phrase that indicates a start of new part of the video.
Cue sheets are used by TV and Radio broadcasters to report usage of music to the performance rights organizations (PRO).
Master Sync License
This license covers both, the musical composition and the recording of it. Independent artists often own both the publishing and master rights of their songs and recordings, and can grant Master Sync licenses.
This license is used for manufacturing, selling, and distributing of audio-only products, such as CDs, DVDs, and so on. This license isn’t used in licensing music for video and television.
Performance royalties are owed to the songwriters and publishers when their music is publicly broadcast or performed (TV, films, restaurants, movie theaters, and so on).
Performance Rights Organizations collect performance royalties on behalf of songwriters, composers, and publishers for public performance of their music.
The public domain music includes the music with all rights expired and the music that never had copyright (folk songs, author unknown). However, even if the musical work itself is in public domain, the audio recording of that work may still be under copyright.
Royalty Free License
Royalty free license grants the licensee the right to use copyrighted music without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each public performance or per volume sold. Learn more about royalty free licensing
Synchronization (Sync) License
Sync license grants the right to use a music composition (however, NOT the recording of the composition) in a video or a movie. “Synchronization” in this context means using the composition in synchronization with the picture on screen.
Audio / Video Production Glossary
Audio Codec / Encoding
Encoding is the process of changing digital audio from one format to another, typically from uncompressed audio to one of the compressed formats. The compressed formats have two broad categories – lossless and lossy. Lossless audio can be decoded back into the exact uncompressed audio, while lossy formats may remove up to 90% of original digital data for maximum space reduction. The two most common lossy formats are AAS and MP3.
BPM / Tempo
The speed or pace of a music track measured in beats per minute (BPM). Thus, 120 BPM means 120 beats per minute.
Bumper / Intro / Outro
A short piece of music you usually hear in the beginning or the end of a video intended to highlight a transition point in the video. In marketing videos, bumpers are normally used to emphasize the business name, logo, or marketing tagline.
Metronome pulse which assists musicians in playing in time. When you see that a particular music track was “recorded to a click track” it basically means it was recorded with steady tempo that does not change throughout the track.
Distortion that occurs when audio signal attempts to exceed the maximum level which the recording equipment can handle.
YouTube employs a robust system called Content ID that allows copyright owners to identify and to manage how their content is used on YouTube. Every video uploaded to YouTube is scanned against the Content ID database to detect if it contains any copyrighted music or video. If there is a match, the user who uploaded the video receives a copyright claim. Learn more about claims and using copyrighted music on YouTube
A digital fingerprint is a digital summary generated from an audio file. Fingerprinting is used to identify songs and sound effects and to monitor their usage. YouTube uses digital fingerprinting system called Content ID to prevent copyright violations.
Dubbing / Overdubbing / Voiceover
Adding additional audio material to an existing recording. Voiceover generally refers to adding spoken narration to the video soundtrack.
Short for Sound Effects.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI is a technical standard that allows different electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to communicate with each another.
The number of times an A/D converter samples the incoming analog waveform each second measured in Hz or kHz. For example, 44 100 samples per second can be expressed as 44.1 kHz for a CD quality WAV file.
When mixing a music recording, stems can represent, for example individual sub-mixes for a rhythm section, all lead instruments, backing vocals, lead vocals — or any other combination that suits the particular project.
Stems help video producers to create customized audio soundtracks by adding or removing individual musical elements as needed. For instance, you might want to remove the lead instruments from the mix to leave more sonic space for the dialogue.
Waveform Audio File (WAV) is the standard file format for uncompressed audio in Windows based systems.
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