Glossary of Terms for Licensing Royalty Free Music and Audio / Video Production

These are some of the  most common terms in music licensing or when dealing with the legalities of using music in multimedia projects such as videos, films, movie, websites and podcasts.

Adrev (Advertisement Revenue) is a partner company of YouTube. Adrev is California based company that enables music publisher, record labels, and independent music producers to collect advertisement revenue when their music is used in YouTube videos. They register our music to Content ID in order that we maintain control of the copyrights of the music.

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.

Audio Bandwidth
The range of audio* frequencies which directly influence the fidelity of a sound. The higher the audio bandwidth, the better the sound fidelity. The highest practical frequency which the human ear can normally hear is 20 kHz. An audio amplifier which processes all frequencies.

Audio Dub
Result of recording over prerecorded videotape soundtrack, or a portion, without affecting prerecorded images.

Audio Frequency Modulation
(AFM) Method of recording hi-fi audio on videotape along with video signals.

During video recording, the video signal is usually accompanied by an audio signal. Sometimes, during video editing*, it is often necessary to separate the audio from the video signal. Audio-follow-video mixers allow accompanying audio to "follow" the video when switching video sources or not. The Digital Video Mixer provides either function.

Audio Mixer
Device with user-adjustable controls to blend multiple sound inputs into desired composite output.

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.

Buy Out
Music or music libraries in which a one-time fee enables the buyer to legally use the music in many productions without paying additional licensing or "needle drop" fees.

The process of obtaining the licenses to every piece of music that appears in a video, film 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.

Click Track
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.

Content ID
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.

Copyright is a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of “original works of authorship, 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.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a new system, built upon current copyright law, that allows you to legally use “some rights reserved” music. 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 . 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
Cue sheets are used by TV and Radio broadcasters to report usage of music to the performance rights organizations (PRO).

Copyright-Free Music
‘Copyright free music’ is a term that is mistakenly used in describing royalty free music and production music. There basically is no such thing as copyright free music. A creator of a peice of music automatically owns the copyright to that music (there is no registration requirement) for the lifetime use.

Measure of audio signal strength based on a logarithmic scale. Also the unit of measure for sound pressure level

Digital Fingerprinting
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.

Personal sound effects, like footsteps, breathing or punches used to heighten realism.

Number of vibrations produced by a signal or sound, usually expressed as cycles per second, or hertz (Hz).

Short for Sound Effects.

A music loop is a section of a piece of music cut in such a way that it can be seamlessly repeated indefinitely by technical means. Loops can range from a few seconds to many minutes in length.

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.

Mechanical License
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.

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.

Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction (often shortened to mono) is intended to be heard as if it were a single channel of sound perceived as coming from one position (unlike stereo, which uses two channels to convey the impression of sound coming from different places from left, middle, and right).

"Mit Out Sound" a slang term for silent shooting actually from the German "mit out sprechen" (without talking).

MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is an audio coding format for digital audio which uses a form of lossy data compression.

Performance Royalties
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).

Post production
(post) Any video production activity following initial recording. Typically involves editing, addition of background music, voiceover, sound effects, titles, and/or various electronic visual effects. Results in completed production.

Production Music
Production music can be heard in videos, movies, commercials, radio broadcasts, television shows, soundtracks, presentations, games, applications, web sites and many other audio visual presentations. Production music sets the mood of a particular scene or segment in a production, adds mood to a product’s promotion, and highlights a certain point or action in a presentation or scene.

Performance Rights Organizations collect performance royalties on behalf of songwriters, composers, and publishers for public performance of their music.

Public Domain
Refers to the copyright status of a piece of music or any type of creative work. Copyrights do expire after some time, and when this happens, music and other works fall into the public domain. If the music already belongs to the public domain, the author or the publisher technically does not have the exclusive rights to the work anymore. The music can be freely used for any purpose, anytime without paying any fees or royalties. However, even when a piece is currently in public domain the recording, arrangement, performance or any of a number of other specifics pertaining to that work will still be protected under copyright law.

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.

Sound bite
Any recorded video or audio-only segment salvageable for use in edited program -- usually a highlight phrase or event. Common component of broadcast news.

The audio portion of a video recording, often multifaceted with voiceover, background music, sound effects, etc. In film industry, refers more strictly to musical score

Stereo (or Stereophonic sound) is the reproduction of sound using two or more independent audio channels in a way that creates the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing.

Stock Music
Stock music is usually ready made for use in any multimedia productions or applications. However, there are some especially composed for a particular purpose. Stock music is usually found in online music libraries that offer them for a one-time charge. This makes searching a specific music a lot easier than going through each CD and look for the desired music.

Audio postproduction where audio is corrected and enhanced. Music, narration and sound effects are mixed with original sound elements.

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.

Sample Rate
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.

An audio watermark is a unique electronic identifier embedded in an audio signal, typically used to identify ownership of copyright.

Waveform Audio File (WAV) is the standard file format for uncompressed audio in Windows based systems.

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