Music Publishing Terms – A Glossary

Getting into the world of music publishing? Here are the definitions to the most common terms used in music publishing so that you’re never lost whether you’re looking at sync licenses, the many types of royalties, or beyond.

For a more in-depth look at how music publishing works, check out our quick guide where we walk through the most important things to know and understand before entering the world of music publishing.


An advance is essentially a loan, it is a lump sum of money that can be paid across by a publisher in order to enable a songwriter to compose as much as possible. This money is often used on equipment, travel and self promotion. An advance is recoup-able by a publisher, and will be paid back by the songwriter through the royalties that are earned from the compositions. The songwriter may not earn from these royalties until the advance is paid back in full.

Composition Royalties

Royalties that are generated through use of a songs composition, including but not limited to; downloads, online streaming, duplication and synchronization.


UK based mechanical rights society who collect mechanical royalties for the duplication/reproduction of compositions.

Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are generated anytime a composition is reproduced in some form, this can be physically in the form of a CD/Vinyl/Tape etc or digitally in the form of streaming or digital downloads.

Music Publisher

A music publisher manages compositions on behalf of songwriters, this includes the licensing of catalogues, promotion of the songwriter, their tracks and collection and payment of royalties etc.

Music Publishing

This refers to music licensing and the collection of royalties that are associated with the use of a songs composition. These are different to the royalties that most distributors currently collect, which are associated with the use of the songs sound recording.

Performance Royalties

Performance royalties are generated every time a song is broadcast in public. This includes but is not limited to radio plays, a performance on TV, a live show or background music played in a cafe. (RouteNote aim to be able to collect these in the near future for our users)


UK based neighbouring rights society who collect royalties for the public performance of a sound recording.


UK based performing rights society who collect performance royalties for the performance of compositions.

PRS for Music

A joint venture by MCPS and PRS to create a royalty collection society that streamlines mechanical and performance royalties into one place for songwriters.

Publishing Administrator

An administrator will register, audit, claim and dispute your royalties for you.

YouTube Royalties

YouTube generates different types of royalties for songwriters: Performance royalties for the public broadcast of your composition, Mechanical royalties for the interactive stream (reproduction) of your composition & Sync royalties for the use of your composition against a moving image (US only).

YouTube Sync royalties

Royalties that are generated on YouTube through the use of a composition and moving image put together. Standard YouTube Content ID collects royalties associated with the sound recording, not the composition. Whilst these work in a very similar way to normal Sync royalties, these are referred to as micro-sync royalties as they’re generated on a per-stream basis on publicly available content. Artists can apply to collect these with RouteNote.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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