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Dictionary of Music Business Terminology

Compiled way back in the last century but perhaps still relevant, here are some helpful definitions for up and coming musicians and performers.  They are the sort of thing you might hear coming out of the mouths of record company executives,  club owners,  agents, managers and record producers.  We have found it helpful during our long career to be able to understand what people are really saying in a business context.  We offer these to everyone who has the inclination to venture into the field of music.

On the left is the actual phrase that comes out of the person's mouth.  On the right is the meaning of that phrase.

Actual Phrase


Have fun with it! Come up with something I like.
In a couple of weeks Never.
I'm not in it for the money. I make a lot of money.
It's up to you, anything you want. It's up to me, anything I want.
Complete creative control. Total obscurity.
You sold 40,000 copies. You sold 11,000 copies.
You sold 11,000 copies. You sold 40,000 copies.
Unlimited funds. $5,000.
Custom label. Term for non-existent record label.
I love what you do. I will do anything in my power to change what you do into something else.
I only work with acts I believe in. I'm desperately looking for someone to exploit.
I love your music. I hate your music.
Be at the festival site for soundcheck at 7:30am. You might as well sleep in tomorrow, there's no sound check.
You were 100 tickets short of a sellout. You sold out but we don't want to pay you.
We've hired the best sound company in the state. There will be a loud buzz from the sound system throughout your show.
There are plenty of places to eat after the show. You will starve.
It's a 3 hour drive. It's a 12 hour drive.
There's a toilet in the dressing room. The dressing room is a toilet.
We will hire an RV for your dressing room. Someone will hold up a curtain by the side of the stage for you to pee behind.
There will be heat in the dressing room. Dress for Siberian backpacking.
The promoter is a real nice guy. You'll love him. The promoter is a real scumbag who would sell his own mother to make a buck.
The nicest venue in North America. This indicates that any number of bizarre catastrophes may arise.
You haven't put out a record in awhile. We haven't done any advertising.
We lost money on the show. We don't want to pay you.
Last week's act sold out. You stink.
I could never do such a thing! Why didn't I think of that?
The reason the record wasn't a hit was because you didn't do it like it was on the demo. I couldn't get Lenny Waronker to answer my phonecalls.
You'll be the biggest thing since the Beatles. You'll be playing at Toad's Place till you're 90.
Business is soft right now. You are on tour.
We'll make a lot of money and have a lot of fun. I wish I was in Australia.
I'm sure it won't be a problem.  It will be a problem.