Music Glossary M

Music Glossary M

Music Glossary M is a collection of music industry terms, words, and phrases, that begin with the letter “M”, from Major Label to Mute.

Music Glossary M

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Music Glossary M Terms

Major Label

Major record labels are the largest members of record industry trade bodies (The RIAA in America and BPI in the UK).


An object used to strike a percussion instrument. Mallets can have woolen or synthetic tips to create different sounds. Mallets for use with chimes can have a hammer style shape used for chimes.


The “Manager” is the business manager for a band. Their responsibilities vary greatly from one manager to the next, with the differences in their responsibilities depending, in part, on what level the band is at.

They are the primary contact for anyone who wants to work with the band. This includes record labels, agents, music publishers, writers, and promoters.

It is up to a band’s manager to find, assess and exploit new opportunities for the band. Setting up gigs and tours, support slots, sponsorship deals, engaging marketing agencies, engaging experts and agencies covering many supporting music-related roles.

The manager deals with the organization, structure, finance, lawyers, and contracts for the band. They coordinate any and all business affairs concerning their artist.

Typically, band managers are paid in the region of 15%–25% of total earnings.


A percussion instrument set up in the form of a keyboard whose bars are made of wood. A Marimba is played using mallets. A foot pedal is used to control resonators below.


Music marketing aims to increase artist popularity, raise the artist’s profile, and increase the sales of their products.

A range of strategies and tactics are used to create and grow interest in the artist’s music. Strategies include engaging with both the general public and existing fans by increasing exposure across:

  • print
  • radio
  • television
  • the internet.

Some music marketing tasks may be carried out in-house, but record labels will often hire independent marketing companies to carry out large parts of their music marketing strategy.

For example, record labels often out-source the task of persuading retail outlets to place or display products in prominent in-store locations.

Master Use License

A master use license is a phonographic copyright license agreement that covers permissions and payments to the owners of recordings, for the use of their music in film, video, or TV. Owners of recordings will set or negotiate their own fee, instead of the agreement being based on a standard fee, when granting a master use license.

A master use license is similar to a synchronization license, with the exception that it covers the rights to reproduce and distribute a sound recording, not a song.

For most recording agreements, 50% of the record label’s net receipts governed by a master use license are considered as “all-in” artist royalties.


Mastering is the final engineering stage in audio production, before manufacture and distribution or broadcast. Mastering is often carried out by a specialist mastering engineer.

The process involves:

  • Tweaking EQ to give a consistent sound
  • Tweaking track level to be in-keeping across the release
  • Tweaking track level to meet standards of the current market
  • Add volume fade-ins and fade-outs
  • Changes to track order

The resulting recordings are commonly called “masters”.

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Masters and master recordings are common items to be specified in a number of different music industry contracts. Masters are final versions of both audio and audiovisual recordings.

“Masters” also refers to the source phonorecords in the record manufacturing process and the source recordings to be used for digital delivery.

Matching Folio

A book of sheet music for the songs of a specific album. Matching folios usually include album artwork, photos and biographical information for the particular album. Matching Right When one of the parties involved in an agreement is entitled to match the terms of an offer by any third party, they are said to have a “matching right”.

For example, artists use demo recordings to interest record labels in signing them to a Recording Contract. When a record label initially paid for the demo recordings it tends to be governed by a Demo Deal. The demo deal terms often specify that the record label, that originally funded the demo recordings, must be given the opportunity to match the terms of any and all acceptable third party offers received by the artist from other record labels.

The right for the original record label to match the offer is time-limited.

The net effect of the clause is that the artist can only sign a record contract with the third party if the core terms of the third party’s offer aren’t matched by the original record label within the specified time period.

Mechanical Copyright Protection Society/MCPS

The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society issues Mechanical Licenses in the U.K. (for copying recordings) and they collect any related royalties.

PRS For Music is an umbrella organization that includes both PRS and MCPS.

Mechanical License

A mechanical license is a publishing license governing payments to  writers for any copies of music that play mechanically.

Mechanical Licenses were originally intended to cover automatic player piano, punched sheet piano rolls, as compensation0 for lost sheet music royalties.

A mechanical license provided by a music publisher or songwriter to an artist, authorises them to record and distribute a song.

A mechanical license provided by a publisher (or it can be provided by an agent working for the publisher) to a record label, authorizing the record label (grants the label the rights) to reproduce and distribute (physical or digital distribution) the recordings of a specified song in exchange for an agreed fee.

Mechanical Rights

Mechanical rights govern the mass reproduction of music recordings on vinyl, CDs, minidisc, tapes, and all other forms of physical media.

Mechanical Royalties/Mechanicals

Mechanical Royalties are the royalties due under a Mechanical License, paid by a Record Label to the Publisher, or Publishers, for the reproduction and distribution of a song recorded in a Phonorecord or Digital Phonorecord Delivery.

Mechanical royalties are then split, with the publisher keeping it’s share of Mechanical Royalties and then paying the songwriter’s share to songwriters.

In the absence of a Music Publisher, such as when a songwriter carries out their own publishing activities, the entire Mechanical Royalty is paid to the Songwriter.

Depending on the deal the amount is based on the number of albums pressed or sold.

A set rate per song is paid in the USA and Canada.

The current statutory mechanical royalty rates (Statutory Rate) for Compulsory Licenses as outlined in Section 115 of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act.:

Physical Recordings (such as CDs) and Permanent Digital Downloads

  • 9.1¢ for song recordings of 5 minutes or shorter
  • 1.75¢ per minute or fraction thereof for song recordings longer than 5 minutes

Streaming Platforms

  • Range from roughly 4% to 6.75% of revenue

Outside of the USA and Canada, a percentage of the wholesale price is paid.

Today’s mechanicals includes:

  • CDs
  • Downloads
  • Ringtones
  • Musical toys
  • MIDI files

All are collected in the USA by the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), and in the UK by MCPS.


Merchandise is a common term for abroad range of artist-related goods other than the artist’s music. For example:

  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Caps
  • Wristbands
  • Posters

Some products can be both merch and promo, artist-branded products, such as:

  • USB sticks
  • Ear Buds
  • Bags
  • Lanyard
  • Can Cooler.

Merchandising Agreement

A Merchandising Agreement grants Merchandising Rights. Such agreements can be varied. They can cover:

    • A general distribution channel
    • A limited distribution channel
      • Retail
      • Touring
    • All products
    • One or more specific products
      • An agreement for solely for posters

The merchandiser normally pays the artist royalties based on merchandise sales. The agreement also stipulates if an advance is to be paid, and just how much.

Merchandising Rights

Merchandising rights cover the reproduction and distribution of merchandise.  Merchandise includes:

  • Posters
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Caps/Hats
  • Belt buckles
  • Books
  • Other apparel

Merchandise typically uses artist related imaging and branding such as:

  • Artist name
  • Artist logo
  • Artist photographs/Artist likenesses
  • Biography and related materials


Most music software programs, and other software, use Metadata to provide information to the program when a CD is inserted into a computer. The Metadata is provided to the software program by a separate Metadatabase application.

Typical Metadata includes:

  • Artist Name
  • Album/E.P. Name
  • Track Titles


(1) A device known as a VU Meter is used to monitor loudness on audio equipment, especially audio recording equipment.

(2) The rhythm of speech or singing, including intonation and stresses as applied to speech and singing, poetry and lyrics

Mic Level (Mike Level or Microphone Level)

This is the nominal signal level, in terms of dBv, dBV, dBm or voltage of a microphone.

Typically this is in the range of  0.001 volts to about 0.003 volts (-50 dBv to -60 dBv).

Loud sounds can produce an output a signal of up to +4 dBv in some microphones.


This is a device for converting acoustic sound waves into an electrical representation of the sound wave. Microphones are categorized according to several different attributes. For example:

  • Sensitivity Pattern (Polar Pattern)
  • How they convert acoustic to electric waves
  • Frequency Response

Microphone Proximity Effect

This is the change in the low frequency response of a directional (figure-8 polar pattern) or cardioid microphone in relation to the distance between the microphone and the source sound. The effect is most noticeable on figure-8 microphones, noticeable but reduced on cardioid microphones and not present at all in omnidirectional microphones.

The closer you get to the microphone, the greater the bass boost.

The proximity effect can create problems, but at the same time it provides an opportunity for creative ways to shape the sound.

Mid-Price Record

A Mid-Price Record is a Record that is sold by a Distributor at a price that is below the Distributor’s prevailing price for Records, at that moment, sold as Top-Line Records, but above the price for Budget Records of the same format. Typically, this lower price is between 66.67% and 80% of the price for Top-Line Records.


The mid-weeks are provisional sales figures for Records issued to the industry in the middle of the week.


A Middle-Eight is a specialist type of bridge section. In music theory, middle eight refers to the B section of a 32-Bar Song Form song, which is 8 Bars in length (hence the middle eight). It has a significantly different melody, rhythm, and harmony from the “A” section specifically, and the more general, the whole song. It is the B in an AABA song, in an AB (Verse / Chorus) song the middle eight is usually placed after the second chorus.

Middle Eight sections usually use new chord progressions. It is called a middle 8 because it happens in the middle of the song and the length is generally 8 bars.

A Middle Eight introduces a contrast with the rest of the song. Many early solos were played during the middle eight.


Launched in 1967, MIDEM is an annual trade fair dedicated to helping the music industry develop business, strategy and creativity. It brings together key players of the music industry and it’s broader ecosystem, both online and in Cannes, France. This includes:

  • Artists
  • Labels
  • Managers
  • Publishers
  • Distributors
  • Streaming services
  • Rights collecting societies
  • High-tech companies
  • Startups
  • Brands
  • Communications agencies
  • Booking agencies
  • Promoters

It has become widely known recently for music business panels and discussions.


Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This is a communications system (hardware and protocol) that allows MIDI-compatible systems to send primarily control information from one system to another. See our article on MIDI by following the link below.

Songstuff Midi Article

MIDI Clock A MIDI clock is a serial stream of timing code that is used to synchronize MIDI equipment. MIDI Clock messages convey tempo to other equipment and work in conjunction with other MIDI messages, like Start, Stop, Continue, and the Song Position Pointer. See our article on MIDI by following the link below.

Songstuff Midi Article

MIDI Machine Control (MMC)

This is the use of MIDI Messages to control the basic features of a recording device. This includes Start Recording, Stop Recording, and Track Arming. MMC does not contain any timing information.

The Midi Interface (article)

MIDI Time Control (MTC)

This is the use of MIDI Messages to synchronize MIDI compatible audio devices in absolute time. This is similar to SMPTE in that MTC can utilize different frame rates for synchronization.

The Midi Interface (article)

Middle Of The Road Radio/MOR Radio

MOR is a genre of music that includes:

  • easy listening
  • pre-rock & roll era traditional pop music
  • orchestral ballads
  • musical theater songs
  • smooth jazz
  • soft rock


Noun: The Mix. The resulting sound when combining multi-track audio into a finished format, such as mono, stereo or a number of surround sound options.

Verb: To Mix. See Mixdown/Mix.


In a multitrack recording, ‘mixdown’ is the name given to the process of mixing multiple pre-recorded audio tracks into a combined output recording.

This is the process of combining two or more audio sources of any kind to achieve a desired balance between the input signals within a combined output signal. This is usually combining audio tracks in a multitrack environment.

The act of “mixing”, preparing to mixdown, includes audio processing and the application of audio effects (fx) to the individual audio tracks and to the combined output audio tracks.

Mixed Folio

A printed book containing sheet music of songs by different songwriters.


In the past, Sound Recordings were recorded on large, multi-track tapes (for example, a 48 track tape) with each sound (e.g., an instrument or vocal) on a separate track. Now, the tracks are generally digitally recorded, but the concept is the same. The “mixer” is the person at the end of the recording process who determines the mixture of these various tracks (for example, the volume of each track in relation to the other tracks). Mixers are usually paid a flat fee for their services, but in some cases, they may have negotiated a royalty as well as a fee.


(1) A key change mid-song.

(2) Varying the strength, tone, or pitch of the voice

(3) To mix an electrical signal containing sound or images with a radio frequency in preparation for broadcast


The process of varying one or more properties of a carrier signal, with a separate waveform called the modulation signal.

In Amplitude Modulation (AM) the amplitude of the carrier wave is varied by a modulation waveform.

In Frequency Modulation (FM) the frequency of the carrier wave is varied by a modulation waveform.

In Music Production, modulation is used to gradually change properties of a sound. It can be used to create a sense of depth and movement within an audio recording.

The source signal (modulator) controls a second signal (carrier) through sound effects and synthesis.

Monthly Statement of Account

In the USA, a Compulsory Mechanical License places a requirement on the license holder to account to the copyright owner on a monthly basis. The statement tells the copyright holders that a work is being distributed under the provisions of a compulsory mechanical license.

Compulsory mechanicals licenses place a limit on the reserves the license holder can withhold. They also require that reserves must be sold and the account paid out at specified intervals.

Royalties are due on every copy made and distributed not simply every copy made and sold. In other words, royalties are paid on promotional copies etc. handed out by the license holder.

The compulsory mechanical license lay out a framework for standard mechanical licenses, particularly the statutory rate. The statutory rate is the de facto ceiling price for a mechanical license. No one pays above the statutory rate. Many record labels pay at a level below the statutory rate to their artists.

Moral Rights/Droit Moral

In some European territories, a moral right is a right retained by an author to prevent their works from being “mutilated”. This applies even if the author has sold the work or the copyright in the work.

In the United States, Moral rights are only recognized for visual works.

Most Favored Nation/MFN Clause

This is a contractual clause that stipulates that the “Giver” agrees to give the “Recipient” the benefit of ANY terms given by the Giver in ANY other contract with ANY other person relating to the same project where the corresponding terms would be more favorable to the Recipient.

An example would be where a Synchronization License states that the fee payable to the Publisher (i.e., the Licensor) by the Licensee shall not be less than the fee paid to any Publisher by the Licensee for the right to synchronize any other song in the same motion picture.


A dominant or recurring idea in an artistic work, typically a thematically significant melody in a creative work.


Short for “MPEG Audio Layer-3”, MP3 is a popular audio file format used for music downloads and for digital music players. MPEG itself is an abbreviation of Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

MP3 files sound very similar to the original audio, but they need much less disk space. As a compressed audio file, file sizes are approximately 10% of the original audio file size.


A muffle is generally a solid-foam material used on drums and drum heads as a way of reducing undesired resonance and overtones.

Multiple Album

Originally this was an album package that included more than one vinyl disc for a single price. The term now includes compact disc packages with more than one compact disc.

A “box set” is typically a multiple album that contains recordings over the artist’s entire career.

The definition of a “multiple album” under a recording agreement now includes Digital Phonorecord Deliveries based on the number of tracks or the playing time of all of the tracks being sold as part of the album package, even though the concept of separate discs is not applicable to Digital Phonorecord Deliveries.

The reasons multiple albums are referred to in recording agreements are two-fold.

  1. Labels generally do not want the artist to Deliver a multiple album, because multiple albums, which bear a higher price in order to offset the higher manufacturing costs, do not usually sell as many units as a single-disc album. Therefore, in most recording agreements, a multiple album can only be Delivered by the artist with the consent of the recording company.
  2. Recording agreements typically contain the following reduced Artist Royalty rate formula for multiple albums:
    • The artist’s album royalty rate is reduced by a fraction
      • The numerator of which will be the price of the multiple album
      • The denominator of which will be the Label’s standard price for a single-disc album sold as a Top-Line Record multiplied by the number of discs (or the equivalent thereof) in the multiple album package.
      • For example, if the SRLP of a two-disc multiple album is $24.98 and the Label’s standard price for a single-disc album is $16.98, then the Artist Royalty rate for the multiple album will be reduced to equal 73.6% of the Artist Royalty rate otherwise payable to the artist (i.e., $24.98 divided by $33.96 (i.e., $16.98 x 2)).

Music Catalog

A Music Catalog is a collection of musical works. Often owned and/or administered by a Music Publisher.

Music Cue

A Music Cue tends to be a relatively short piece of music within a soundtrack.

Music Director

Musical director is someone responsible for the musical aspects of a performance, production, or organization, for both recording sessions or live work.

Examples include:

  • artistic director
  • orchestral conductor
  • director of music for a movie
  • director of music at a radio station
  • person in charge of music for a school, university, college, or other institution

Music Library/Production Music Library

Music Libraries are specialist music publishers, focused on licensing music to media production companies involved in producing:

  • Television shows
  • Movies/films
  • Television commercials
  • Corporate videos
  • Streaming videos

Music Licensing

Music licensing is the licensed placement of copyrighted music in a variety of types of media. Music licensing ensures that the music license holders for musical works are compensated when their work is used in any of the ways covered by the governing music license.

Music Promoter/Promoter

See Promoter.

Music Promotion

The act of promoting an artist’s music via marketing, word of mouth or advertising.

This includes:

  • promotion to radio stations to get airplay
  • promotion of an artist’s upcoming concert or performance
  • any act performed to promote an artist’s music.

Music Supervisor

Someone hired by a motion picture or television program producer to consult with both the producer and the director and propose the music to be used in the soundtrack, to be added to any music created from the film composer.

As an example: the music supervisor might suggest a specific artist to record new music for a film project and they might suggest using a previously released Record for the project.

It’s pretty common for Music supervisors to be involved with negotiating the terms for the use for the music within their project.


This is effectively turning an audio signal off, i.e. full attenuation.

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