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Registering Music For Profit & Protection: Glossary of Terms

Those who register for NARIP’s FREE After The Synch Webinar may find this list of definitions useful.  Glossary by Megan Grosz, updated and expanded by Tess Taylor.

Administrator – publishing company that represents another publisher. An administrator is responsible for registering compositions, licensing and negotiating on behalf of, and collecting and tracking royalties for, the publisher(s) with whom it has a contract. An administrator does not own the copyrights, rather it administers and controls them for the term of the administration agreement. In exchange for providing these services, a traditional administrator will generally take a 10-20% administration fee. New model administration services such as CD Baby or TuneCore also charge a setup fee.

Affiliate – entering into a membership agreement with a society to represent rights. Artists who own their copyrights can affiliate as both a writer and a publisher with a PRO. Important distinction: a songwriter is “affiliated with” ASCAP – not “signed to” ASCAP. A songwriter can only be an affiliate of one PRO at a time. A publisher can be a member of all three US societies, since (in nearly all cases) the publisher must be affiliated with the same PRO as the writers it represents.

Aggregator – a distribution service, such as TuneCore or CD Baby, that provides music to online stores and streaming sites.

Alternate Title (AKA) – ‘also known as’ – a different name a song is known by – can also be renamed due to translation. AKAs can be registered with societies to ensure accurate collection.

ASCAP – American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers – a nonprofit US PRO.

Audible Magic – audio identification technology that delivers automatic content recognition (ACR) services.  Founded in 1999, Audible Magic acquired the Muscle Fish LLC in 2000, bringing the core fingerprinting technology in-house. A service in use by many PROs (CMOs) that tracks all productions, where and when they play. BMAT monitors and reports music across television, radio, venues and digital services globally.  BMAT can tell when and where any song is played and provide the metadata that describes who owns the rights to each track.

BMI – Broadcast Music, Inc – a nonprofit US PRO.

CAE/IPI number – a unique international identifying code assigned to a writer or publisher upon affiliating with a PRO. The acronym stands for Composer Author Publisher (CAE) and Interested Parties Information (IPI). The code is assigned by the CISAC international database and is recognized by all international societies. The CAE/IPI number is often confused with the society (or PRO) account number which (unlike the CAE/IPI) is specific to the society in each territory. After affiliation with a PRO is complete, it takes about a week for the CAE/IPI to be issued.

CISAC – International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – organization that sets policies for and supports territory-specific performing and mechanical rights societies. Currently enjoys membership of 230 societies in 120 countries.

Composition/Song – words and melody – in licensing, can be referred to as the publishing side. This copyright is registered as a PA (Work of the Performing Arts) with the Library of Congress.

Copyright Claimant – Individual or company with copyright ownership.

CMO – Collective Management System, the term now in use by CISAC to replace PRO (performing rights organization)

Cue Sheet – a document created by the production company which lists all music used within a television program, special or movie. It includes song title, writer and publisher information, song duration and use type.   It is the production company’s responsibility to file cue sheets, but the rights holder should ensure that the appropriate PRO(s) receives all cue sheets containing his works so that they are properly and timely registered.

CWR – Common Works Registration – a standardized format and protocol developed by CISAC to manage the registration of works between rights holders and rights societies worldwide.

Deposit Copy – record of a work in some fixed medium (CD, digital audio or written) submitted with a Copyright Registration to the Library of Congress.

Dirty Audio: Verance Corporation (formerly Aris) provides watermarking technology for music that is able to detect music  buried beneath voice-overs and sound effects (i.e., ‘dirty’ audio), unlike BDS.

EIDR: Entertainment Identifier Registry, a universal unique identifier system for movie and television assets.  Also in use is the term sub-EIDR, which refer to different episodes in the same production or series.

eSong – access portal to HFA’s repertory database. Members can register compositions through this online service to be licensed via Slingshot.

Fingerprinting is a method of audio recognition by which a computer program identifies an audio track by matching its profile against an existing database.  Fingerprinting enables users to track a piece of music without embedding data into the original audio file prior to delivery. Any piece of music, no matter how old or new, can be fingerprinted from a copy of the original master (as long as source-file integrity has been maintained) and tracked on a going forward basis.

HFA – Harry Fox Agency – for profit US mechanical rights organization.

International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN) – a unique identifier for audiovisual works and related versions, similar to ISBN for books. The ISAN is recommended or required as the audiovisual identifier of choice for producers, studios, broadcasters, Internet media providers and video games publishers who need to encode, track, and distribute video in a variety of formats. It provides a unique, internationally recognized and permanent reference number for each audiovisual work and related versions registered in the ISAN system. ISAN identifies works throughout their entire life cycle and can be incorporated in digital and physical media, such as theatrical release prints, DVDs, publications, advertising, marketing materials and packaging, as well as licensing contracts to uniquely identify works. An ISAN is a centrally registered and permanently assigned reference number.  This metadata applies to all types of audiovisual works, including their related versions of trailers, excerpts, videos and broadcasts.

International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) – a 16-digit identifier to identify public identities of contributors to media content such as books, TV programs, and newspaper articles.   ISNI can be used to disambiguate names that might otherwise be confused, and links the data about names that are collected and used in all sectors of the media industries.   ISNI allows a single identity (such as an author’s pseudonym or the imprint used by a publisher) to be identified using a unique number.  An example of the use of such a number is the identification of a musical performer who is also a writer both of music and of poems.  Where he or she might currently be identified in many different databases using numerous private and public identification systems, under the ISNI system, he or she would have a single linked ISNI record. Enables more precise searching for information online and in databases, and can aid management of rights across national borders and in the digital environment.

ISRC – International Standard Recording Code is a unique identifying code assigned to sound recordings (and music video recordings) by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the U.S. ISRCs are 12 characters long beginning with letters. Although it is associated with the master recording, it is referenced by publishers in mechanical licensing, streaming and royalty reporting.

ISWC – International Standard Work Code – this code is assigned to compositions by the ISWC agency as part of a standardization initiative by CISAC. It is unique for each composition, and remains the same across all societies internationally. An ISWC is a 9-digit number beginning with the letter T. After a work is registered with a PRO, the ISWC will be automatically assigned. ISWCs (if assigned) can be found on the song level in your PRO online account.

Landmark Digital Services designs and develops software, systems, and technology for recognizing content and collecting licensing fees for artists. The company operates as a subsidiary of Broadcast Music, Inc.

LyricFind offers lyrics search, display and synchronization services for all types of platforms, uses, and budgets.  Its licenses with over 4,000 music publishers allow for a variety of licensing and integration models.

Master/Sound Recording – audio recording of a specific performance (of a composition) – often controlled by a record label. This copyright is registered as SR (Sound Recording) with the Library of Congress.

Mechanical Rights Society – a society representing copyright owners which licenses mechanical rights and collects when music is reproduced or made available as a physical product, digital downloads or streams. HFA and AMRA are mechanical societies in the United States.

Mediaguide – provides airplay data products. The company’s information products, which span all media types, provide performers, publishers and the recording, advertising, radio, and television industries insight into what is being broadcast across America. Mediaguide, based in Berwyn, PA, is a joint venture of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and ConneXus Corporation.

Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, better known as BDS, is a service that tracks monitored radio, television and internet airplay of songs based on the number of spins and detections.

Non-Interactive Streaming – Internet radio – generates performance royalties paid to PROs only. On-Demand Streaming – also known as Interactive Streaming – facilitated by sites such as Spotify, where listeners choose music. On-Demand Streaming generates both a streaming mechanical (paid to mechanical collection organizations) and streaming performance royalty (paid to PROs).

On-Demand Streaming – also known as Interactive Streaming – facilitated by sites such as Spotify, where listeners choose music. On-Demand Streaming generates both a streaming mechanical (paid to mechanical collection organizations) and streaming performance royalty (paid to PROs).

PRO – Performing Rights Organization – a society representing songwriters and publishers which licenses performing rights and collects royalties from radio stations, TV networks, venues and streaming services. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are PROs in the United States.

Pseudonym (PKA) – ‘professionally known as’ – a person’s stage or artist name. This information can be included on copyright registrations.

Published Work – with respect to music copyright – a work that has been commercially released to the public, whether by a label or online distribution service. A published work is registered as a SR or PA with the Library of Congress.

Publisher – owner of the copyright of a composition. Songwriters own and control this right automatically unless they have transferred it via a publishing or administration deal, respectively.

Publishing entity / publisher designee – the publishing company name chosen by a songwriter or music publisher.

Qwire makes software the streamlines production workflow.  Used by music supervisors, composers, music departments,  picture and music editors and others to submit cue sheets electronically to PROs for attribution and public performance royalty payment.

Register – create a record of writer, publisher and/or claimant information – e.g. register a copyright with the Library of Congress or register a composition at ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (U.S. performing rights organizations, or PROs).

Repertory – catalog of works of an individual or organization.

Rights Holder.  A right holder refers to a legal entity or person with exclusive rights to a protected copyright, trademark or patent, and the related rights of producers, performers, producers and broadcasters. A right holder may license a portion or all of a protected work through international legal and licensing provisions.

SESAC – Society of European Stage Authors and Composers – smallest of the US PROs – for profit and invite only.  With an established repertory of European classical music, SESAC began to turn its attention to American music in the 1930s.

Shazam is a mobile app that recognizes music and TV around you.

Slingshot – HFA’s licensing service used by music download sites, streaming services (such as Spotify and Rhapsody) and digital jukeboxes.

SoundCloud is an audio platform that lets users listen to music and share the sounds he or she creates.

SoundExchange – a digital performance rights organization representing sound recording copyright owners that collects and pays on non-interactive digital performances such as satellite, internet radio, and cable television music channels in the US.  Payments go to the featured artist(s) (45%), non-featured artists such as background singers (5%) and copyright owners of the sound recordings (50%) typically record labels.

SoundHound is an app used to identify songs you sing or hum.  Music recognition for music playing around you.  Their motto is “Say it.  Get it.”  Enabling a hands-free way to quickly and intuitively get what you want.   Performs simultaneous Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding.

Soundmouse is a music cue sheet platform, now the broadcast industry standard for the management of music usage data for networks, producers, performing rights and other music copyright  organizations.  Soundmouse processes legacy and ongoing metadata, and  is used to create, manage, distribute and report cue sheets to Performing Rights Organizations.

Sub-publisher – administrator that represents a publisher or administrator in another territory. A sub-publisher can have many functions, from registering the client’s compositions with the societies in that territory, to exploiting and licensing the compositions in that territory.

Tag or tagging refers to a keyword or term assigned to – and/or embedded in – a piece of information (such a digital image, Web site, music or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and enables it to be found again by browsing or searching.

Tunesat – audio recognition technology that scans TV channels and websites around the globe to discover where music is being played—so rights holders can get paid.

UN/LOCODE  – The United Nations Code for Trade and Transport Locations is based on a code structure and a list of locations.  Each code element consists of a five characters, where the two first indicate the country and the three following represent the place name (i.e., CHGVA, FRPAR, GBLON, JPTYO and USNYC).

Unpublished Work – a work that has been fixed in some medium, such as in writing or an audio recording, but has not yet been released to the public. An unpublished work is registered as SRu or Pau with the Library of Congress.

Watermarking enables users to embed specific information about a piece of music, or even about the end user of that music. This provides tremendous benefits for discerning entitlement changes on different uses of the same piece of music (i.e., in lieu of re-titling), or for forensically tracing the source of unauthorized file sharing.

Work Number/Work ID – Number assigned by a performing or mechanical rights society to each composition. It is specific to the society where the composition is being registered, such as ASCAP Work ID or HFA Song Code.

Writer – creator of the composition – can be Composer (creator of music), Author (creator of lyrics) or both.

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A graduate of McNally Smith College of Music in St Paul, MN with degrees in Music Business and Music Production, Megan made Los Angeles home in 2007. She was introduced to music publishing and mechanical licensing at CMH Records, researching copyright information and engaging with music publishers. This led to a position as assistant to percussionist Sheila E. and her then-manager, Lynn Mabry. Megan managed the office and provided support during performances, recording sessions, productions, and the 2007 Latin Grammys. She volunteered with their non-profit organization, Elevate Hope Foundation, which provides music therapy to children with a history of abuse. In 2008 Megan joined indie publisher Bug Music (now part of BMG Chrysalis) where she monitored the collection process from registration to royalties, and helped test and implement a proprietary income tracking system. In 2011, Megan became one of the first members of the TuneCore Publishing Administration team–with a hand in setting up one of the first publishing administration services available to all creators. Establishing direct affiliations with international performance and mechanical rights societies and working with executives and web developers at TuneCore and programmers at Counterpoint Systems, Megan helped glue these pieces together. The result was a more artist-friendly customer experience, translating into a custom fit registration and royalty system. Moving on to Reach Music in 2012, Megan served as Manager of Copyright Administration. She set up CWR (common works registration) protocol with all US societies, in addition to APRA, CMRRA/SOCAN, GEMA, SACEM, STIM and PRS/ICE. As a consultant, Megan has worked with companies and creative individuals–producers, labels, artists and music libraries. She provides copyright and PRO registration training, organization and research, catalog management and other publishing services. A musician herself, Megan’s current creative focus is as vocalist and lyricist of dance and disco duo, Flower and the Snake. She is also works with creatives as a Reiki Master and is passionate about vegan cooking.



Harry Fox Agency (HFA)
International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)
American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers  (ASCAP)
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, Inc (SESAC)
Library of Congress