Working towards a fairer music industry

Industry Jargon
Part One

In the first of a new series on Route, experts across the fields of journalism, live music, marketing and more talk through the terms they wish they knew before they started the job. From ‘advances’ to ‘riders’ to ‘above the line’ - Industry Jargon Explained will help to demystify the language of the music industry.

Photo credit Chiara Gambuto


EOP/EOD: End of play/end of day. Seems pretty straightforward but it’s used everywhere as a simple hard deadline. Used frequently by marketing teams when requesting assets or copy for digital or print campaigns, for example.

ROAS: Return on ad spend. A big one for any marketing team. It’s a performance measure that tracks how much revenue you are making off your paid advertising campaigns. It basically tells you how effective the advertisements you are running are. The higher the ROAS, the better - proof that your messages are connecting with your audience and generating strong sales. If you can achieve a decent average ROAS from your platforms, it’s great leverage for attracting potential marketing partners and amplifying your product even more.

Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4: Denotes a quarter of a year. Largely used by big record labels, it’s a way to divide an annual release schedule and track, plan and execute album campaigns accordingly. Traditionally Q4 (Oct-Dec) is the busiest period of the year for music, with many labels and retailers looking to capitalise on the commercial benefits of the pre-Christmas period. If you land a job at a major label, you won’t be there a week without hearing some reference to it. I personally spent a good few days wondering why question 4 was such a big deal to everyone...


Versus Deal: Took me a little while to get the hang of this but this is a type of deal that is done between an agent and a promoter where the band gets a basic fee (called a guarantee) and then gets a percentage (normally 80-85%) of the profit made from ticket sales - after all the costs of putting on the show are taken off the total profit. You'll see the offer written for example as £400 vs 80%. This means the minimum fee will be £400 and you will walk out with 80% of the profit after costs are deducted from the total made.

Avails: Short for availability. Specifically in regards to venues. An agent will ask the venue or promoter to "send the avails for 16-25th June please" and that means they are asking what nights the venues are free and not booked!

Pencils: Linked to avails. Pencils is a queue system venues use to denote availability. If you are the 1p, that means you are the first person holding that venue for a specific day. If you are the 2p, it means someone else is holding that venue ahead of you but they haven't fully confirmed it. Agents will hold a few nights at a time at each venue whilst they piece together a tour. If you want to confirm a show and you are 2p or 3p or even 4p, you put in a challenge. You don't have to physically fight anyone but it is psychological warfare! The person ahead of you in the queue then has 24 hours to confirm their show or else the challenger gets the date. Agents hate nothing more than to be challenged by someone on a venue when you haven't finished organising a tour.

Routing: This refers to the way multiple shows are looped together by an agent or promoter to make geographical sense. You don't want to be doing a show in Glasgow and then one in Brighton on the next day so routing is really important to get right. If you get it wrong - it will lose you time and money my friend. An agent's job is to book the venues in a good order to make a tour work. You'll often hear agents get frustrated when you can't get the venues to work in order aka "oh god there are no avails that work - this is messing up my routing" as they pour over a map of the UK & Europe trying to make it all fit!

Sammy Clarke : Promoter, Awkwardness Happening

Overage: In relation to a versus deal, the overage is the amount of profit that has been made on a sell out show or a show that far exceeds its break even point.

Show costs might include your marketing budget, PRS, sound engineer fee, security costs, box office, support band fee, event rep, rider and buy out. Some of these costs, such as the personnel who help a show happen (sound person/security) might already be covered in your venue hire fee.

In the event of a sell out show, an agent will enquire about a show's overage so as to determine precisely how much of a fee an artist is owed once show costs sans the original agreed guarantee are deducted from the overall sum of monies made thus determining the settlement fee.

Riders: There are two types of rider in this world. A Hospitality Rider and a Tech Rider. Both of which are provided by an artists tour manager, agent or manager ahead of the show.

A Hospitality Rider usually consists of an assortment of snacks, water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages that are requested by a touring band to be made available upon said artists arrival to a venue. As well as these snacks and drinks, a promoter is usually expected to provide a hot meal per touring member or a buy out of £10 per head as per the agreement made between promoter and agent during the negotiation of a show.

A Tech Rider is a list of equipment that an artist requires in order to perform their set. In some cases a promoter/venue will be required to provide some/all of the backline equipment. This is something that is usually agreed between the promoter and agent during negotiation of the show conditions. A stage plot is also provided so as to inform the sound engineer/s of how the stage needs to be set up prior to soundcheck.

The thing to remember with riders is that they are not as rigid or as scary as they appear to be on paper and are often based on ideal/ best case scenarios. Therefore in instances where not all requests can be feasibly honoured, honest and transparent communication between yourself (The Promoter) and the artist, the artist's representatives and sound engineers are key to finding a happy medium for all involved parties on the night.

Nat Ads: In hindsight it's really simple. This stands for 'National Advertising'. Sometimes an agent will ask for you to make an offer with a contribution towards national advertising for the overall tour campaign included in your show budget. The cumulative marketing fees coming from each promoter means that word will get out far and wide. Meaning that everybody promoting a show on the tour should benefit from the exposure. Especially that biggest show to date at the Kentish Town Forum ;-)


Flatplan: The page-by-page breakdown of what's set to go in each issue of a magazine; a template to be filled in, ticked off and stressed about each day.

Advertorial: Paid-for content that's still fundamentally an advert, but takes a format closer to traditional editorial (hence the name). Advertorial content is normally flagged as such for transparency, so readers know there's a monetary agenda behind the nice words.

Written Through: Essentially just prose. Sometimes you'll be asked to file copy as a Q&A, sometimes you'll be asked for it written through, which basically means 'transcribe your interview and integrate it into the piece as one flowing, delightful body of words'.

Subbing: Aka sub-editing, aka going through a writer's raw (unedited) copy and making all the necessary grammatical changes, fact checks and tweaks to make sure no-one gets shouted at on Twitter.

Pitch: An obvious one, but one that many people do not do properly! A pitch should NOT be you emailing an editor and asking to review Glastonbury because you love going to the festival! A pitch should be a concise paragraph detailing the piece you want to write, the angle you want to give it that makes it interesting and the expertise that makes you the best person for it. Be smart about it!


Phoner, Emailer, F2F: Common terms for different types of interviews with an act – phoner is over the phone, Zoom, Skype etc., emailer is over email and F2F is face to face.

Pull Quote: A brief line from the interview that’s particularly good / attention grabbing, used as a subheading or put in larger font over a picture.

Lead Time: The amount of time between confirming a feature / review and submitting the final piece.

Lede / Standfirst: The opening line or paragraph of a feature, often in bold or a different font so it stands out.

Sidebar / Boxout: A design element in a feature with separate, but related content to the main article. E.g. main article: “We spoke to the inventor of the mullet”, sidebar: “5 of the best celebrity mullets”.

Word Rep: Editorial note, just short for “word repetition”. Used when a feature has the same word twice in a short space of time.

Franchise Feature / Regular: A recurring feature in a magazine, e.g. a feature where a different popstar each month explains how to make their favourite sandwich.


IEC: When someone first asked me to ‘pass [them] an IEC’, and I wasn’t sure what they meant, I was met with an incredulous look. What they were actually referring to was a Kettle Lead. A universal term known by practically everyone, but some people will always love making themselves look clever by referring to component codes. I tend to save that talk for electronics specialists if I’m buying specific parts. In any other situation, the everyday term is just fine. So now, if someone is trying to show you how technical they are requesting an IEC, you can cheerily respond ‘here’s your kettle lead, dick’.

Spiking: If you’ve got amps, drums, keyboards or whatever onstage, but you have to move them out the way for the opening act, it’s wise to put some tape on the floor, marking their positions, so you can move them back to the exact same spot. We call this Spiking. Drummers on tour often spike their own drum mats, so as soon as they put their mat down, they can recall very quickly where their stuff is positioned.

PDs: If you get asked to do a tour, the artist manager may offer you a certain amount of money, plus PDs, which is short for Per Diem, which is Latin for, er, Per Day. Don’t ask me why we’re using Latin now, we just are. PDs are basically a small payment of about 10 or 20 pounds ‘per day’ to cover daily expenses; food, drink, toothpaste, cigarettes, things you need to keep you going whilst you’re on the road.

PLI: This stands for Public Liability Insurance. If you’re sending your CV off to PA companies, Events Companies and such, they’ll come back usually asking for your passport, national insurance number and ‘PLI’.  It basically means that as a freelancer, if you’re out on a job and you damage something or someone, you’re covered if anyone sues. Obviously, the probability of this happening is really low, so the monthly payments for the plan are also really low, usually around a tenner a month, but you can get covered for £5 million or £10 million, so just try not to cause news-worthy amounts of damage.