Napster was a file sharing program created by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker that ran from June 1999 until July 2001.

With this brief quotation we want to underline the importance as well as the turning point of digitally distributed music, first illegally and subsequently regulated also thanks to the arrival of giants such as iTunes and YouTube (just to name a couple).

If physical distribution was once complex, with its rules, high costs and strategies, digital distribution is much simpler but at the same time full of terms and processes that physical distribution could not even dream of.

This article aims to clarify the terminology used by digital distribution professionals, by Labels, by Artists, by Press Offices and even more generally by those involved in the “behind the scenes of Music”.


Digital Music Store or Digital Service Providers, are the two acronyms used to indicate one or more digital stores such as iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Beatport, Traxsource and many others. E.g. “product x not present on the following DMS…” rather than “product y needs a price change on the following DSP…

Product or Release

By product we mean the “container” that includes several tracks. The product is identified by the UPC/Barcode. The product can be a Single, a Compilation, an EP, an Album or a Double Album.


By track we mean the track “contained” in a product; it is identified by the ISRC code.


The UPC (Universal Product Code) or Barcode is the product identification code; it is identified by a 13-digit alphanumeric code.


The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the code that identifies an audio and video recording internationally and guarantees its uniqueness. This code is a unique and permanent identifier that recognizes each specific recording, regardless of the support it is on (be it CD, mp3 file or other).

Sales Date

It is the date on which the product was put on sale on the DMS. It can be different from the Release Date.

Release Date

This is usually the original release date. Let’s assume we load a back catalog of products released in recent years; in the loading phase they will have the Sales Date almost immediate but the Release Date must correspond to the original release date. Es. “Today, July 10, 2021, I upload a product released in DMS or physical for the first time on January 2, 2004. As Sales Date set as July 20, 2021, as Release Date set as January 2, 2004.

Back Catalogue

It is nothing more than a catalog of past releases compared to the current date. If an Artist or a Label has several releases in the last few years, these releases are part of their back catalogue.


Term used to indicate a Record Label


The P-Line is the phonographic copyright property; the person or company (in the case of a Publisher) who owns the final audio recording asset and excludes any samples, melodies, lyrics or compositions used to produce the music.


The C-line is the copyright ownership of the composition: the person or persons who created the music, i.e. the melody, lyrics, structure etc.


The pre-order is nothing more than the possibility of giving the end user (who buys the product) the right to purchase the product in question before the sales date. The pre-order is a function available automatically for some “club oriented” stores such as Beatport and Traxsource.


It is the possibility of saving the product not yet released on the DMS in the library of your favorite store. As Music Rails we are able to offer multi-link pre-save for all products we distribute.


It is the possibility of having a link that brings together different stores. Solitamente vengono utilizzati servizi a pagamento come Linktree o Songlink by Odesli; con Music Rails questo link viene generato gratuitamente su richiesta della Label o dell’Artista da noi distribuito.
here a couple of example:,


You will certainly have seen on some stores (the Bundle is not supported by all DMS) the item “only with the album” instead of the price of the song. The Bundle is in fact the obligation imposed by the Label and/or Artist during the distribution phase to oblige the final user (the customer who is buying) to purchase the entire product in order to have that song too, precisely in a Bundle. Out of 10 tracks contained in a compilation it is possible to have up to 30% of tracks (therefore 3 in this example) which cannot be purchased individually but only thanks to the purchase of the entire product. It is usually used for Compilations and for related songs contained within them under license.

Instant Gratification

It is a feature that gives the buyer the possibility of having a song before his Sales Date. Let’s assume we have a 7-track EP with a Sales Date of July 10th but which is available on the stores for pre-order on July 3rd. Once purchased in pre-order, a track of these 7 is available for immediate download; this track is instant gratification, a sort of “immediate gratification” for having purchased a pre-order.

Tier Price

By Tier Price we mean the selling price of the track and of the product. Usually each store – in its own way – tries to entice the purchase of a product rather than a song contained in it. If we take iTunes as an example, it is easy to find a 7-track EP with each track on sale for €0.99, but if purchased entirely, the EP costs only €3.99.


Multi-Channel Networks (“MCN” or “Networks”) are third-party service providers who are affiliated with multiple YouTube channels to offer services, which may include audience building, content scheduling, collaboration with creators , digital rights management, monetization and/or sales.

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