Remember that each song has two rights attached to it. The first is for the composition itself (both lyrics and music) and the second is for the recording of that song by the artist.
Composition - The song written by the songwriter(s).
Copyright - The ownership or control of an intellectual property like a song.
Label - The record label, who sign the artist and usually control the copyright of the master recordings. They are responsible for licensing and distributing the recordings, then paying a percentage (a royalty) of the money earned to the artist.
Master - The produced sound recording of a song.
Mechanical License - The license to reproduce and distribute the master recordings in a physical or digital format. CDs, vinyl records and digital downloads all require this license from the publisher of the composition in exchange for a royalty for each sale.
Public Performance License - The license to transmit the compositions to the public via live concerts, radio, television and streaming.
Performance Rights Organization (PRO) - The entity that collects public performance royalties for the songwriter. This includes ASCAP, BMI and SESAC in the US.
Publisher - An entity that controls the copyright of a songwriter's compositions. The publisher is responsible for collecting the royalties on the artist's behalf.
Soundexchange - The entity that collects performance royalties for artists and labels for non-interactive streaming such as Pandora.
Sound Recording Performance License - The license issued by Soundexchange that provides the right to transmit masters via non-interactive streaming.
Synchronization (Sync) License - The license required to add music to moving images, including film, television, DVDs and video games.
Publishing is a deep subject and there are many more terms to become familiar with if you really want to get a handle on how it all works. That said, if you're unclear of the concept, these terms are an excellent place to begin.
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