Music industry glossary: ​​The Acronyms You Should Know

The music industry is a hive of organizations, institutions and platforms. A mix of different acronyms that you have surely had to face on more than one occasion.

In order to avoid future headaches, and more importantly, from trampling on your rights as an artist, we have put together this music industry glossary. Here you will find the acronyms you should know and discover what they do for you and your music.



It stands for Performing Right Organization. It is the organization responsible for performance rights. There isn’t a unique international PRO, each country has its own. In fact, there may be several within the same territory.


Why should you care?

The function of a PRO is to collect the royalties that are derived from performance rights.

Remember that when an item you own the copyright to is broadcasted in a public environment, you are entitled to a percentage. Most businesses that use music and operate in this way have general license agreements with a PRO.

They are in charge, therefore, of managing the licenses, checking that they are complied with, and collecting and distributing the profits according to and to whom it corresponds.




It stands for Mechanical Rights Organization and is the organization responsible for mechanical rights.


Why should you care? 

It works exactly the same way as in the case of the PRO, but with mechanical royalties.

Remember that when an element which you hold copyright to is reproduced mechanically without interpreters, you are entitled to a percentage. This situation refers to every time your creation is captured in a physical format, downloaded or streamed.

Some known MROs are MCPS, Harry Fox Agency, MLC, SODRAC, SACEM or GEMA*.

*Note: as you will see, some PROs are also MROs. These are known as CMOs, Collective Management Organizations. This is the case of SGAE or SACEM, for example.



It stands for Mechanical Licensing Collective and is the organization responsible for mechanical rights.


Why should you care? 

This non-profit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office manages mechanical licenses for DSPs. And it is, therefore, also responsible for the collection of the corresponding royalties for such licenses and the subsequent payment to their owners.



It stands for Digital Service Provider and refers to the different online stores and streaming music services that exist. Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal…they are all DSPs.


Why should you care? 

Because you will want your music, in all likelihood, to be present on more than one of these services.



It stands for Interested Party Information, also known as CAE. It consists of a multi-digit number used to uniquely and permanently identify each songwriter.


Why should you care? 

This number is international and is used all over the world. When a composer joins a PRO, he is given this code. Each IPI is associated with a single composer, but a composer can have multiple IPIs. Its function is to identify the artist within the PRO database to avoid possible confusion in the distribution of royalties.



It stands for International Standard Work Code. Again a code, but this time exclusively and permanently identifies the compositions.


Why should you care? 

As was the case with the IPI, it is international. It is used all over the world and is generated by PROs. Its function is, therefore, the same: to identify the composition within the PRO database to avoid possible confusion in the distribution of royalties.



It stands for International Standard Recording Code. Once again it is a code, but it does not identify artists or compositions, but rather recordings.


Why should you care? 

Because a composition has a single ISWC but can have multiple ISRCs, since there can be multiple recordings. In fact, it is recommended that each recording be registered to obtain its own ISRC. Spotify, Apple Music, or iTunes use the ISRC to track streams and downloads.



It stands for Universal Product Code / European Article Number and refers to barcodes. The former is used only in the United States and Canada, the latter worldwide.


Why should you care? 

Just as a song has only one ISWC and can have multiple ISRCs, each album, EP or single has only one UPC. Its function is none other than to exclusively identify and control the sales of a certain product.



It stands for Multi-channel Network.


Why should you care? 

This name is used for companies that have the ability to manage multiple YouTube channels from a CMS, as is the case with Republic Network.



It stands for Content Management System and it is the tool that MCNs like Republic Network use to control the entire YouTube ecosystem.


Why should you care? 

Republic Network makes use of two CMS of its own: the sound recording CMS and the publishing CMS. The first one has Content ID technology, which allows us to identify videos that include content for which we manage the copyright. We send YouTube a reference copy of the content, so that when a match is detected we can monetize, block or track the video in question.

From the publishing CMS we can claim performance, mechanical, synchronization or lyrics royalties collected on YouTube.



It stands for Global Release Identifier. It is a system for identifying digital sound recording releases, as well as other data, for digital distribution.


Why should you care? 

GRID is designed to integrate with identification systems implemented by key stakeholders across the music industry.



It is a unique and global identification system for a wide range of audiovisual products, from television and movies to radio programs.


Why should you care? 

This identification system resolves an identifier to a metadata record that is associated with titles, edits, DVDs, encodings, clips, and mash-ups. In addition, it also provides identifiers for video service providers such as broadcast and cable networks.

Pic ©zoutedrop