TAXI’s Music Industry Glossary
We couldn’t find a great Music Industry Glossary, so we’ve created one for all songwriters, composers and artists who want to know more music business, songwriting, music licensing, and production terms. This is a work in progress and the list will be updated on an ongoing basis.
Administration (aka Admin or Publishing Administration) – The supervision of all financial, copyright and contractual aspects of either an entire catalog, a single song, or an instrumental track. Publishing administration companies typically do not pitch music. Their job is usually limited to royalty collection. Rates vary for administration, but they normally range between 10 to 25%.
Administrator – The person or company that administers the rights to your composition and will only [take]—depending on the terms, from 10 to 25%. They don’t own your composition, you still own the composition. The difference between a publisher and an administrator is that a traditional publisher will require all your rights. They own the composition and, hopefully, they’ve paid you some money for that. A film and TV publisher is sort of in between an administrator and a regular publisher. But an administrator basically handles all the paperwork, the international collections and the registrations. They’re listed as the publisher on any cue sheets, and have 100%. And then when they collect that 100%, they will forward 75% to 90% to you, depending on your agreement. An administrator is very useful for very large commercial artists whose name carries their song. So if they don’t want to hand it over to a publisher to handle their songs—that is, if they haven’t already signed from way back-an administrator is a great for them, because they don’t have to do the leg work or [deal with] getting paid or the international collections. The administrator will handle all that. A good administrator will also pitch your music to film and TV, but their main job is to collect and do all the paperwork for you worldwide.
Advance – The money paid to an artist or songwriter before the recording or release of a song or recorded work. The amount of the advance is typically deducted from future royalties generated by that song or recording and earned by the artist.
AF of M – The abbreviation for American Federation of Musicians, aka, the Musician’s Union.
Air Check – A recording made of a TV show or radio broadcast.
A&R – An abbreviation for Artists and Repertoire; The act of finding new talent, songs and masters. Record labels use A&R people to find new talent, sign artists, find them the best songs for their recording project, and shepherd the process of recording their music.
Arranger – One who adapts a musical work to particular instruments or voices, which can also include the re-arrangement of the song’s structure.
Artist Manager – The person or company in charge of the task of developing an artist's career. The artist manager typically advises the artist on all business decisions and works to promote the artist through any and all available means, including demos, media coverage, and person-to-person networking. Managers also work to exploit any and all of the artist’s work to develop revenue streams for the artist. Typical management deals give 10-25% of the artist’s income to the manager. 15-20% is the most typical range.
Artist – An individual or group of performers (such as a band) under a recording or management contract.
A.S.C.A.P – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (commonly known as ASCAP) is an American performing rights organization that protects the musical copyrights of its members, tracks performances of their music, and collects (and distributes) the fees associated with those performances. ASCAP is not a music publisher.
Assignment – The transfer of rights to a song or catalog from one copyright holder to another.
Association of Independent Music Publishers – The AIMP includes in its membership not only independent music publishers, but those publishers that are affiliated with record labels or motion picture and television production companies. In addition, individuals from other areas of the entertainment community, such as motion picture, television, multimedia and home video producers, the record industry, music licensing and supervision, songwriters, artist managers and members of the legal and accounting professions are active in the Association of Independent Music Publishers.
Author – The creator of any work that can be copyrighted.
Backend (or Back End) – A common term to describe the performance royalties a creator gets from his or her Performance Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC in the United States) when a piece of the creators music is played on radio, TV, etc. A Sync Fee is the money paid upfront to license the music for a TV show (for instance), while the Performance Royalty or backend is paid quarterly after the music has been played publically. It is notable that Performance Royalties or Backend is not paid in the United States when music in a film is played in a movie theater. However, if that same film is broadcast on TV, backend Performance Royalties will be paid for that.
Blanket License – A type of broad license that allows the end user (such as a TV network) to use any or all of the songs in a Performance Rights Organization's repertory as much or as little as they like. Licensees typically pay a large annual fee for the license. The blanket license reduces paperwork, and reduces the effort in finding and negotiating licenses with all of the individual copyright owners of the works that might be used. Music libraries often contract for blanket license deals with a particular show or network for a lump sum, annual fee. The network or show gets a hard drive with thousands of songs and/or instrumental tracks on it, and the music supervisors and/or show’s video and music editors can use as much music from that hard drive as they like during a given year. Some music libraries or publishers pay the composers whose music is on the hard drive by giving them a proportionate amount of the upfront fee, determined by how much their music is ultimately used. Other publishers keep all of the upfront free, and the composers are only compensated through performance royalties when their songs or tracks are listed on the show’s cue sheet(s).
BMI – Broadcast Music Incorporated (commonly referred to as BMI) is an American performing rights organization that protects the musical copyrights of its members, tracks performances of their music, and collects (and distributes) the fees associated with those performances. BMI is not a music publisher.
Booking Agent – A person who finds employment for artists or performers in return for a percentage of the income from that employment, usually ranging from 10 to 15%. They can also be known as talent agents.
BPM – Beats Per Minute. A measure of a song or instrumental track’s tempo.
Broadcast Quality – Being sonically good enough to be broadcast in its current state. In other words, not a demo recording. Broadcast Quality is a subjective measure of audio quality, and the quality of the musical performance to some degree. The term is most often thought of in regard to the recording or audio quality, but if the audio is high quality but the musicianship or performance is less than wonderful, a piece of music might still not be considered Broadcast Quality. Conversely, if the style of music is typically ragged, distorted, or “under-performed,” it could have a less than stellar audio and performance quality, but still be Broadcast Quality in the context of that style or genre.
Business Manager – A person (or company) that manages the income, expenses, and investments of a performer or artist. A business manager usually charges an artist 2-5% of his or her income for the services rendered.
Catalog – All the songs owned by a music publisher considered as one collection. If a songwriter has not assigned or licensed his or her own works, they are considered to be the songwriter’s catalog.
Clearance (Music Clearance) – The right of a radio station, TV network, or film production to play a song. To say that a song has been “cleared,” means that there is nothing to prevent a song or track from being used. Undisclosed copyright holders, or lack of signed work-for-hire agreements could be obstacles that prevent a song or track from being “cleared.” Music supervisors will not license a song for a film or TV placement if it doesn’t “clear.”
Collaborator – One of two or more partners in the writing of a song or instrumental track.
Commission – Percentage of income paid by musical artists or actors to their representative. If it is an agent, the amount cannot be over 10% for a union contract; if it is a manager, the percentage is unregulated, but is traditionally 15-20%.
Common-Law (or “Poor Man’s”) Copyright – The natural protection of a song based on common laws of the various states. Was superseded by a single national system effective January 1, 1978.
Composer – One who writes the music to a song or for an instrumental track.
Composition – A musical work; the art of writing music.
Compulsory License – The statutory mandate given to a copyright owner to permit third parties to make sound recordings of the copyright owner's song after it once has been recorded.
Co-Publishing – The joint publication of one copyrighted work by two publishers. When a songwriter or composer assigns half of his or her publisher’s share of a copyright to another entity—typically a music publishing company—they are said to have entered into a co-publishing deal.
Copyright – The exclusive rights granted to authors of copyrightable song, allowing the author to have control over that song and how it is (or is not) exploited for financial gain.
Copyright Infringement – The unauthorized use of a copyrighted work. Copyright law calls for the plaintiff to prove the defendant infringed their copyright through a three-part test: 1) Did the defendant have access to the copyrighted work? 2) Did the defendant copy, directly from the copyrighted work, a part of the song that is protected by copyright (some parts of songs or musical compositions are not protected by copyright, such as titles; themes and ideas; and stock chord progressions, such as a I-IV-V blues progression.) 3) Is the defendant’s composition substantially similar to that of the plaintiff’s composition?
Copyright Notice – Used on a published work to give notice that a copyright owner is claiming possession. A copyright notice includes the following: 1) the word “copyright,” or the “©” symbol 2) the year of first publication, 3) the name of the copyright holder/owner.
Copyright Office – The Copyright Office is part of the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington D.C., where copyrights are registered and filed in both physical and electronic files.
Cover – Another artist's version of a song that has already been recorded by a previous artist.
Co-Writing – Joint authorship of one work by two or more writers.
Cross Collateralization – A means of recouping the money spent on one song or recording against the earnings of another song or recording.
Crossover – A song that receives airplay in more than one market, chart, radio format, or genre.
Cue – While the word “cue” has many meanings depending on the context, the most common meaning for TV and film music is; a musical work created to fill a spot in a TV show or film. An instrumental cue would play in the background or under dialogue in a reality TV show, for instance. A cue could also mean a “spot” in which a piece of music is needed and will be inserted in a film or TV show.
Cue Sheet – A log or spreadsheet of all music used in a TV show or film, listing each individual use, where in the show or film it is used, the duration of the use, the type of use (ie. background, feature, etc.), and the composer(s) and the publisher(s). The cue sheet is often filled out by the TV show’s editor or assistant editor, then given to the show’s producer, and/or network, and ultimately to the appropriate performing rights organization, which in turn collects and distributes the money to the composers and publishers. Here is an example of a cue sheet.
DAW – Digital Audio Workstation. The computer used to run recording and music creation software.
Demo – A recording that demonstrates the talent and music of an artist to potentially interested parties, such as booking agents, or A&R representatives. As the cost of a professional-grade recording has dramatically decreased as home recording equipment and technology has improved, the recording and production standards applied to demos have generally been raised.
Digital Distribution – A distribution method in which the consumer logs in to an approved website that offers preview samples, singles or full albums online for "download" (transfer from the Internet Web server to the individual user's computer hard drive or mobile device).
Discography – A catalog or list of recordings made by a particular band or artist as well as the related information such as the playing time, recording date and label.
Distributor – A company that handles the sales and shipment of a record company's product to retail outlets and one-stops for a certain territory defines what a distributor is in the physical media realm. A company that distributes music via electronic means using digitally encoded files is considered to be a digital distributor.
Dynamic Range – The range between the loudest and softest sounds or passages on a soundtrack and/or sound system can reproduce properly.
Exclusive Publishing Agreement – A written agreement allowing a specific music publisher to publish some or all of the works by a songwriter or composer for a certain period of time. The publisher is allowed to oversee management and collection of royalties for any commercial use of these songs. In exchange for the right to publish the songwriter’s works, the publisher agrees to pay the songwriter a specified percentage of revenue from the commercial use of the songs, often paid as an advance against future income. In the music library market, advances may or may not be paid, and both types of deals are common.
Entertainment Law – A specialty area of commercial law that looks after the needs pertaining to music, theatre, sports, dance, literature, architecture, visual arts, Internet and television industries.
EQ – The abbreviation for the word Equalization. Electronically boosting or cutting the level in certain frequency ranges relative to other frequencies from the same source is commonly referred to as EQing. Equalizers are processing units that adjust the individual levels of specific frequencies within the EQ spectrum.
Exclusive Songwriting Contract – Also known as an Exclusive Publishing deal. A contract which prohibits the songwriter from writing for more than one publisher. An exclusive deal is an agreement that you sign with a film and TV rep, a music publishing company, or a record label, whereby they are the only people that have the right to pitch your music for you. You cannot work with anybody else; you are depending on them to pitch your music and make money for you. A non-exclusive publishing deal means that somebody is pitching your music, you have an agreement in place, but you also have an agreement with somebody else to allow them to pitch your music as well. You can also pitch your own music as well.
Finder's Fee – A finder's fee is any compensation in cash, cash equivalents, or anything of value that a third party is paid for any services in connection with a deal made between an artist or songwriter, and a record company or a music publishing company.
Groove – Rhythm or tempo that helps create the "feel" of the song.
Harry Fox Agency – The Harry Fox Agency represents music publishers for their mechanical and digital licensing needs. The agency issue mechanical licenses and collects and distributes royalties on their affiliated publisher's behalf. This includes licensing for the recording and reproduction of CDs, ringtones, and Internet downloads. HFA no longer issues synchronization (or synch) licenses for the use of music in advertising, movies, music videos, and television programs, but they do collect and distribute on synch licenses that were granted prior to our discontinuation of the synch service in 2002. HFA also conducts royalty examinations, investigates and negotiates new business opportunities, and pursues piracy claims.
HFA delivers a diversified suite of copyright, licensing, royalty distribution, technology and consulting services to key music industry participants.
HFA does not:
- Issue synchronization (aka "synch") licenses for the use of music in advertising, movies, music videos and television programs.
- Represent songwriters and publishers for the placement of their music in films and for use by other performers.
- Administer performance rights that permit the play or performance of the music in a public setting such as a restaurant, concert hall, radio station, or nightclub.
- Issue print rights that are required to change the lyrics, or to publish them in printed form.
- Issue master use rights that permit the use of an original artist recording.
- Provide clearance for the use of samples.
HFA is often confused with the performing rights societies, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Performing rights are separate and apart from mechanical rights, and are necessary to obtain for public performance of copyrighted music, such as at concerts, radio and television broadcasts, and the like. We suggest you contact these companies if you are interested in any performance rights or synch licenses. These companies also represent songwriters and publishers for the placement of their music in films and for use by other performers. We suggest you contact these companies if you are interested in only performance rights, synch licenses, or clearance for the use of samples. HFA does not provide any of these services.
- Neither HFA nor the performing rights companies issue the rights for printed lyric reproduction.
- For "master use" or sampling rights, you will also need to contact the owner of the master recording, usually the record company that issued the original recording.
Hook – A phrase or melody line that repeats itself in a song; the catchy part of a song, often the song’s chorus.
Hybrid – The musical combination or fusion of two—or sometimes more— music styles or genres. Electro/Orchestral is a good example of a hybrid style.
Indie – Music industry slang for "independent." The term is vague and is used to variously to refer to small record labels, small publishing companies, artists signed to these labels and publishers, and unsigned artists who act as their own labels and publishers.
In the Box – Refers to the way music is created. If the entire piece was created using computers and software, musicians would commonly say it was created “in the box.”
License – When used as a noun, it means a legal permit. When used as a verb, it is to authorize by legal permit. In the music industry context, it means to grant permission for one person or company to use or perform another person’s song or instrumental track.
Licensor – The owner of the licensed musical work. The songwriter or composer who creates the song or track is often the licensor. A publisher who has acquired the rights to the song or composition can also be the licensor.
Licensee – The person or entity to whom the work is licensed. The end user, such as a TV show or feature film that licenses a song or composition is a licensee because they have licensed the right to use that musical work.
Loop – Typically, one to four bars of music that are edited to repeat over and over.
Lyrics – The words to a song.
Lyric Theme – The general idea or broad concept that underlies a lyric. Introspective, emotionally upbeat, or romantic are good examples of lyric themes. A lyric theme can also be more specific, such as NASCAR-related, summer fun, road trip, etc.
Manager – The person or organization responsible for developing an artist's career. The manager typically advises the artist on all business decisions and attempts to promote the artist through all available means, including demos, media coverage, and person-to-person networking. In return for their services, personal managers usually takes 15-20% of the performer’s gross income.
Marketing – The process of increasing product sales by generating public interest in an artist's music through various promotional means, including exposure in print media, television broadcasts, radio broadcasts, and especially in modern times, the Internet.
Master – The original master recording. The original media type or form, from which dubs or copies are made. It also refers to a finished recording of the song from which records are pressed and distributed to radio stations and record stores.
Mastering – The preparation of a recording for mass distribution, whether as a performance or to be sold on physical or digital media . This includes the evening out audio levels (so that loudness is consistent throughout the album) and polishing the audio quality of the recording through the use of equalization adjustments by a trained specialist, known as a mastering engineer. The mastering engineer does not mix the music, but applies his expertise to the already finished 2 track or stereo master mix.
Master Use License – A license that grants permission to use existing recorded material (master recordings), including, but not limited to: vocals, music, TV or film dialog, speeches, and sound effects. For sampled material, a Master Use License is required regardless of the length or amount of material that is used.
Mechanical Rights – A right given, allowing the mass reproduction of a song on CDs, tapes, records or other forms of physical media.
Mechanical Royalties – The payment from a record company to a songwriter or publisher for use of a song on a CD or other physical media. These payments are referred to as “mechanicals.” The statutory mechanical royalty rate of 9.10 cents per song/per unit sold took effect January 1, 2006. If a song is more than five minutes long, the rate paid will be increased to 1.75 cents per minute. See also – The Harry Fox Agency.
Meta Data – In the context of music, Meta Data is the information embedded in a musical file (such as an MP3) that typically identifies things like (but not limited to) the creator(s), the publisher(s), the song title, the date created, email address, phone number, etc.
MIDI – The abbreviation for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI is a standard digital language/interface that enables electronic instruments and editing devices (synthesizers, computers, drums machines, etc.) to communicate with each other.
Mix – The final audio product combining all of the separate music elements and instruments into one composite soundtrack. "Mix" also applies to the act of creating the mix. This is sometimes referred to as the "mixdown."
Modulate – To change from one key to another during a song.
Motif – The shortest, thematically significant melody of a song.
MP3 – Abbreviation for MPEG Audio Layer-3, it is a compression system for digital audio. The MP3 format is one of three compression systems derived from MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) technology. The MP3 format compresses digitized audio data. The MP3 reduces the number of "bytes" (unit amount of digital data) in an audio file by a factor of 12. This reduces the file size of an audio file (to 1/12 its original size) so that it can be quickly and efficiently transmitted over the Internet. An MP3 may be downloaded in minutes rather than an uncompressed CD audio file, which could take hours.
Music Catalog – A collection of musical works.
Music Licensing – The act of licensing a musical work for placement in various forms of media. Wikipedia defines Music Licensing as follows: Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. Music licensing is intended to ensure that the owners of copyrights on musical works are compensated for certain uses of their work. A purchaser has limited rights to use the work without a separate agreement.
Music Placement – When used as a verb, it is the act of placing (or licensing) a musical work (song or instrumental) in a form of media, typically visual media like TV shows, films, advertising/TV commercials, video games, etc. When used as a noun, Music Placement refers to a specific placement of a musical work.
Music Promotion – An often misunderstood and misused term. The true meaning is the act of promoting an artist’s music, typically to radio stations in order to garner airplay. Promotion can also be used in the context of promoting an artist’s upcoming concert or performance. The more generic use of the term music promotion has morphed into any act performed to promote an artist’s music via marketing, word of mouth or advertising. The Internet has become an integral part of modern artist marketing and music promotion.
Music Publisher – Music publishers exploit the licensing and commercial use of copyrighted songs, and also collect the payments for the use of those songs. The copyrights must be assigned to the music publisher or by the songwriters in a written contract in return for a percentage of royalties generated by the song. Here is a list of music publishing companies.
Music Publishing Companies – Companies that exploit copyrights of songs to generate income for the songwriter or composer and the publishing company as well. See above.
Music Supervisor – A music supervisor pairs music with visual media of all types. According to The Guild of Music Supervisors, a music supervisor is “a qualified professional who oversees all music related aspects of film, television, advertising, video games and other existing or emerging visual media platforms as required.”
Performing Rights Organization – Organizations that collect the payment for licensed public performances of songs on behalf of the copyright owners, and pays royalties to the songwriters and publishers of the performed works. There are three organizations in the U.S. (among many others worldwide) that do this: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
Performance Royalties – The income earned from use of one's song on radio, television, concerts, and other public performances of music.
Platinum Album – The certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that an album has sold a minimum of one million units.
Platinum Single – The certification by the Recording Industry Association of America that a single has sold a minimum of one million units.
Points – percentage points -- the money producers and artists earn on the retail list price of 90 percent of all records sold. The term can broadly apply to any percentage earned in the music industry. “The producer got two points (2% of sales) on that record.”
Post – A short form of "post production." This is the term applied to all the work that goes into a production after the talent has left the studio. This includes such processes as overdubbing, editing, adding special effects and mixing.
Press Kit – A printed or electronic presentation news clippings, reviews, a biography, headshot and resume given to the media and interested industry professionals. Also called an electronic press kit or E.P.K.
Producer – Also known as a record producer. The individual who oversees the overall process of making a recording. The producer can be involved in the engineering, mixing, arranging, songwriting, and business practices and management of the recording budget.
Prosody – The marriage of words and music.
Professional Manager – The person in charge of screening new material for music publishers and of obtaining commercial recordings of songs in his publishing company's catalog. Not to be confused with artist manager.
Public Domain – A recording or composition that is free of copyright protection, and available for unrestricted use by anyone. The U.S. copyright statute gives an author control over a copyrighted work for a certain period of time, aka life of the copyright. After that time is up, the work is considered to be public domain. A musical work no longer protected by copyright due to an expired copyright or caused by an invalid copyright notice.
Publicist – The person(s) hired to create awareness of a person or project. A publicist is generally responsible for getting articles about the project into various forms of media, including, print magazines and newspapers, Internet articles, blogs, TV, radio, etc.
Publisher – The person(s) or company, who on behalf of a songwriter or composer, seeks out people to use the artist's music, issues licenses to them, collects all licensing fees and royalties generated, pays the songwriter, and splits the proceeds. The publishing contract assigns the administration rights to the publisher as well as all the rights of the copyright owner.
Record Label – A record company. The company that invests in an artist’s career in exchange for a percentage of the income generated by record sales. In the last decade, record companies have begun to enter into what are called 360 deals—meaning that they participate in the income of touring, merchandising, and other income streams in exchange for their investment to launch the artist’s career.
Recording Contracts – The legal documents detailing an agreement between a record label and recording artist, whether on a major record label or independent label.
Red Book Standard – The digital format standard for the audio CD that allows universal compatibility with any Compact Disc or any CD player. The format stipulates that the audio be recorded in stereo at 44.1kHz sample rate with a 16 bit word, among other things.
Retitling – A common practice among non-exclusive music libraries in which they re-title songs or instrumental works to avoid confusion or conflicts regarding music that may be in more than one catalog.
Reversion Clause – The contractual agreement in which a music publisher agrees to secure a recording and public release (marketing) for a songwriter's material within a specified period of time—usually one to five years. Failure to secure a recording and release triggers a reversion of the song’s rights back to the songwriter.
Royalty – The income earned from the sales of the record or song.
Sample Clearance – The authorized use of a copyrighted sound recording to be incorporated into a new composition.
Scoring – The process of composing and recording the instrumental music added to help fill scenes or dialogue in a movie, TV show, or Broadway play.
S.E.S.A.C. – (commonly referred to as SESAC) is a performing rights organization that protects the musical copyrights of its members, tracks performances of their music, and collects (and distributes) the fees associated with those performances. SESAC is not a music publishing company.
Song Plugger – The person who is charged with getting meetings with executives at record labels and with record producers for the purpose of pitching the songs written by the songwriters he or she represents.
Song Shark – An unscrupulous person who profits from dealing with songwriters using deceptive methods that may not be illegal, but are at the least, unethical.
Songwriting – The process of writing the words and melody that make up a song. Song structure and the arrangement are also part of the process.
Subpublisher – The company that publishes a song or catalog in a territory other than that under the domain of the original publisher.
Synch (Synchronization) Rights – The right granted by copyright owners that allow for a song to be recorded on a soundtrack for TV or Films, or to be used as background music within a TV show or movie. The on-screen images are often synchronized with the song, thus the phrase synchronization rights.
TAXI – TAXI.com is the world’s leading independent A&R company. The company was founded by Michael Laskow in 1992, and specializes in connecting independent songwriters, artists, and composers with major and independent record labels, music publishing companies, production music libraries, film and TV music supervisors, ad agencies that need music, and video game companies who are looking for songs or scores for their games. TAXI is sometimes referred to as TAXI A&R, TAXI music, and TAXI music licensing.
Term of Copyright – The amount of time that a copyright is in effect. For songs created after December 31, 1977, the term lasts from the moment a song is written until the death of the songwriter, plus 50 years (in the United States). If more than one person is involved in writing a song, the copyright on that song will last until 50 years after the death of the last living songwriter. If a song is written as work-for-hire, anonymously, or under a fictitious name, the copyright will last 100 years from the date the song was written, or 75 years after the date it is first published. Copyright owners also have the right to assign their copyrights to their heirs or any other person or business. It is the right and responsibility of those parties to find ways to exploit the song, should the previous publishing contracts or licensing agreements expire.
Verse – The section of a song or instrumental that precedes the chorus. Typically, it is the A section of a song using the AABA arrangement. The Verse follows the song’s intro and is usually the first part of the song to have a vocal in it. The first Verse’s lyric often sets up the song’s story line. The second Verse lyric often completes the story.
Wet – A voice, sound, or instrument with reverb added to it.
Work-For-Hire – A form of copyright that removes ownership from the actual author of a work. According to the Copyright Act, in the case of work-for-hire, the work belongs to the employer of the actual author, since the work was done within the scope of his/her job. Copyright cannot be legally assigned to the employer without a signed, written contract stating that the author relinquishes the copyright; verbal agreements will not hold up in court. The work-for-hire clause often refers to advertising jingle writers more than songwriters, although, it is often used in contracts by production music libraries that do “Buy Out” deals with composers and songwriters.
Work – Any product that can be copyrighted – musical, dramatic, visual art, or literary.