Music Glossary

An introduction to music terms and music industry terminology. There are many aspects of the music business between recording, marketing, licensing, publishing, and touring. This music glossary breaks down the most-used vocabulary in various aspects of the industry. Here are terms that every musician needs to know.

AJAX progress indicator
  • A cappella
    Vocal performance with musical accompaniment.
  • Backing Track
    An audio recording of synthesized instruments, a purely rhythmic accompaniment, or other accompaniment parts that live musicians play along with or sing along to.
  • Binaural Recording
    Binaural recording uses two microphones to create a three-dimensional sound experience for the listener. Binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and does not produce the desired effect over loudspeakers.
  • Dynamic Range
    The difference between the quietest and loudest volume of an instrument or piece of music.
  • Hospitality Rider
    A list of requests for the comfort of the artist while at the venue prior to a live performance.
  • Master
    The first recording of a song or other sound, from which all the later copies are made.
  • Persona
    A character or alter-ego assumed by an artist. Many performers assume a role that matches the music they perform on stage.
  • Press Kit
    A press kit is a pre-packaged set of documents, photographs, and other relevant materials about a film designed to generate interest in and acquaint professionals and media with the project. It is primarily aimed at media representatives, festival selectors, and buyers and is sent to festival organizing committees as part of an application. An increasingly common format, an EPK is a press kit in an electronic form, which can include trailers and other video material.
  • Programmatic Music
    The term that is roughly defined as a composition which reflects a story, event, or series of events within the composition.
  • Progressive Rock
    Also known as "Prog Rock", this is a broad genre of rock music that was developed in the United Kingdom and the U.S. in the 1960s.
  • Royalty
    A payment owed to composers, songwriters, and recording artists when their music is licensed.
  • Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Aftra
    SAG-AFTRA represents a wide range of entertainment jobs: broadcasting, dancing, acting, singers, stunt coordinators, puppeteers, DJs, and many other media professionals. Originally SAG- AFTRA was two separate labor unions (Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).
  • Spotting
    Spotting refers to sessions during which the director, editor, composer, and other relevant specialists to determine what kind of music is needed for the film's tone and narrative and where that score and sound effects will be located.
  • Swing
    A popular form of jazz music that dominated the 30s and 40s.
  • Technical Rider
    The information a venue needs to help you put on a winning performance. It tells them info like, who will be performing, what instruments each person plays, how big the stage needs to be, and what setup you need onstage and backstage.
  • The Set List
    The list of the songs a band or artist plays during a concert or other performance.
  • Venue
    The location of an organized event such as sporting events and concerts.



How to Become a Music Editor

A music editor works for a print or online publication and oversees music related coverage.


Stay up to date on the latest in design, technology, fashion, sports, and more by signing up for the Yellowbrick mailing list.