Songtrust's Music Publishing Glossary

The definition of a successful artist or songwriter is evolving. To thrive, you have to learn the business to make informed decisions. We know, perhaps better than most, that the music industry is flooded with acronyms and terms, probably a few hundred too many. Sometimes just adding a word to an existing term can create a whole new definition! As a part of our continued mission to help songwriters and rights holders become better business people through expert resources and explanation of the music business and music publishing industry, we’ve curated a collection of music industry, business, and publishing terms. Below are a few of the top ten commonly used industry terms and their definitions. Check out the Songtrust Glossary for our full list of terms and educate yourself on their definitions.

May 24, 2018

ISRC vs ISWC - What's the Difference?

The music industry is full of acronyms - ASCAP, BMI, IP and DSP are just a few. As a songwriter, you probably know about PROs (performance rights organizations) like ASCAP and BMI, but you may not know the terms ISRC or ISWC, or even what they mean – and that these two acronyms can have a major impact on collecting your royalties.  

May 22, 2018

The Truth About Advances

Like any new entrepreneur, songwriters may experience cash flow problems and look for additional financing to keep the lights on. However, unlike businesses that have inventory to put up as collateral, songwriters have only their intellectual property and the royalties that property can earn. This limits the options from traditional banking sources and requires songwriters to seek out alternative funding that’s available as an advance against royalties or from selling some rights in exchange for quick cash.

May 17, 2018

Songwriter Success: Webinar Recap

 Last month we held our first-ever webinar - Songwriters: Setting Yourself Up For Success - for new songwriters and those songwriters looking to refine their process. Hosted by Songtrust's own Elizabeth McBride, Publishing Specialist, and Adam Schwartz, Client Success Manager, we covered topics from the creative process and how to get yourself organized, to understanding publishing, PROs, and royalties. The turnout was tremendous and we were asked a lot of excellent questions from the community that tuned in.

May 16, 2018

Streaming Royalties Explained

Thanks to the internet, streaming has become one of the primary ways people listen to music, whether on their smartphones, at home, on their computers, or elsewhere – but that doesn't mean it's been easy for songwriters to sort out the process of getting paid for all that exposure. Royalty rates are set at a variety of different percentages, usually based on the digital service’s gross revenue for a period of time, and even industry pros and publishing execs who have been in the industry for decades can find themselves confused.

May 10, 2018

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC: The Guide to PROs


Songtrust works globally to collect songwriter's composition royalties from performing rights organizations and mechanical rights societies.

Performing Rights Organizations (aka PROs) are an important part of any songwriter's career – even when a songwriter doesn't realize it. While PROs collect royalties for songwriters when their works are performed publicly, such as played on television and AM/FM airwaves, through internet radio services like Pandora, at a club, inside a restaurant, or at a concert, most organizations don't stop there. Many tackle other issues impacting their members, such as fighting music piracy and keeping up with changes to the industry that have resulted from the advent of digital music. They advocate for artists and writers in their countries or origin, too. We strongly believe that it’s important for songwriters to learn about the PROs in their territory and around the world. Here's a quick overview of just some of the biggest players in the industry:

May 3, 2018

How Your Song Works For You

Understanding how royalties are generated, collected and ultimately deposited in your bank account is as important as songwriting and performing - and it’s not as complicated as you think. The more you know about the business life cycle of a song, the better you’ll be at making smart decisions about your work when it’s released.

May 2, 2018

Songwriters are Business People

When songwriters think of making it big, it usually inspires thoughts of winning an industry award or a beloved artist performing their songs. But a major part of making a career as a songwriter is understanding that the music business is, yes, a business – and that means it's up to every songwriter to seek out education, to learn how to network, and get organized as much as any big CEO would.

Apr 30, 2018

Understanding Split Sheets and Lyric Sheets

Songwriters should know how to show off their work with the best advantage and how to make sure they are paid for their work. While not used by every songwriter, lyric sheets and split sheets are two important documents that may be of use to you as you grow, and something that you need to know how to create and use.

Apr 24, 2018