How does a music label

  1. What is a music label?
  2. Music label device
  3. A & R Department / Performers and Repertoire Department
  4. Art Department (Art Department)
  5. Artist Development Department
  6. Commercial Affairs (Business Affairs)
  7. Department of Relations with Companies (Label Liasons)
  8. Legal Department
  9. Marketing Department
  10. New Media Department (New Media)
  11. Promotion Department
  12. Department of Public Relations (Publicity)
  13. Sales Department (Sales)
  14. How a music label finds new musicians
  15. As a band or artist, get on the label.
  16. Why labels are not going anywhere
  17. Giant music labels and independent players

Young groups must go through three stages of preparation: holding concerts, recording a demo and hiring a manager. These three steps are aimed at achieving a single goal - signing on a music label.

Despite the development of the Internet and the changed approach to the distribution of music, the music label remains the surest and most reliable way to show your creativity to the world and make money from it.

What is a music label?

A music label or record company is a company operating in the music market. The main activity of music labels is to enter into contracts with performers and their promotion, as well as the production, recording and distribution of musical products.

Music label device

Young groups must go through three stages of preparation: holding concerts, recording a demo and hiring a manager

Organizational structure of a music label (record company).

Record companies are matryoshka corporations, within which many smaller firms. It turns out such a conglomerate of dozens of companies specializing in music from different directions. At the head of the conglomerate is the parent company, which is subject to a pleiad of large and small subsidiaries.

Among the many record companies usually distinguish the Big Three labels. It includes the largest companies in the music market: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment (Sony BMG) and Warner Music Group. Together, these companies control 85% of the US music market and about 70% of the global music market.

The composition of each company of the big four includes a huge number of labels in the United States and other countries of the world. Warner Bros. Records Inc, the parent company of Warner Music Group, owns Reprise Records, Maverick Records, Rhino Entertainment, Atlantic Records Group and dozens of others. The Japanese-American Sony BMG unites over 200 record labels, including Columbia Records, RCA, Arista Records, Epic Records and many other companies.

How many music labels?

The size of music labels vary. There are both small record companies, managed by one or two musicians, and huge corporations with thousands of employees.

According to Billboard magazine, there are over 2,000 record label companies in the world. The number of independent and small labels is even greater.

The music business is huge. Successful records are sold in millions of copies and companies bring billions of dollars.

In the hierarchy of record companies, at the very top is the CEO (from the English Chief Executive Officer — the chief executive officer or simply the director) , who manages all the processes and departments of the company. Each label in the corporation has its own manager, reporting to the CEO of the entire conglomerate.

Each manager has several deputies responsible for specific departments of the company. The major music labels of such departments are usually 11:

  1. A & R department
  2. Art department
  3. Department of Performers Development
  4. Sales department
  5. Department of relations with companies
  6. Legal department
  7. Marketing department
  8. New Media Department
  9. Promotion department
  10. Department of Public Relations
  11. Sales department

The structure of the music label varies by company. Label design may become simpler or more complex, especially in cases where a label is acquired by a large record company.

A & R Department / Performers and Repertoire Department

A & R department (abbr. From the English. Artists and Repertoire) is looking for new talent. This includes demos of bands and performers. If an interesting musician is found, employees must persuade the company's management to “sign” a new performer.

In addition to searching for talents, the A & R department strongly supports performers with whom contracts have already been concluded. Division employees decide who will produce the album and where it will be recorded; looking for suitable poets and composers; make tracklists of records. In addition, the A & R department selects songs for rotation on radio and television and tracks the progress of the musician.

Jobs at A & R are considered the most prestigious in a record company. The people at A & R are the link between the musicians and the entire record company.

Art Department (Art Department)

The art department of the music label is responsible for the design of albums and promotional items. There are designers who develop the style of design for all music and souvenirs of musicians.

Artist Development Department

Employees of the department plan the development strategies of performers signed on the label. They accompany the musicians throughout the entire creative way, choosing the course along which the artist’s career moves.

According to the Music Biz Academy, in the 21st century, most music labels have no development departments left. The formation of an attitude towards musicians as a product led to the fact that such units were renamed the “Product Development” Department. At the same time, the nature of the department’s work has changed.

Label management believes that the development of the Internet and the changing ways in which music is consumed does not allow for long-term planning for the careers of performers. Unlike the middle and the end of the 20th century, today development planning is required at the start of a musician’s career. Labels are trying as soon as possible to bring the artist to the top and draw attention to him to recoup the investment.

With a proper start, the public retains an interest in the performer for quite a long time. Therefore, planning for long-term development is not so important.

Commercial Affairs (Business Affairs)

The financial side of the music industry. Employees are responsible for the accounting, billing and finance of the performers and the company.

Department of Relations with Companies (Label Liasons)

Usually consists of several people. These people are the link between the record company and the music stores.

In addition to controlling the flow of music to retail outlets, the department analyzes the market and select the most appropriate time for the release of the album for sale.

Legal Department

Lawyers are responsible for contracts between the music label, performers and other companies. Any legal disputes, even between the performers and the label itself, go through this department.

Marketing Department

The department staff creates marketing campaigns for each label release. They help coordinate the activities of the departments of promotion, sales and public relations.

New Media Department (New Media)

The department is responsible for any new aspects of the music business, including producing and promoting performers video clips on YouTube.

Employees of the unit also help artists keep accounts in social networks. Additionally, their responsibilities include the development of new multimedia platforms and technologies that help in the promotion of musicians.

Promotion Department

The main task of the promotion department (PR) is to make sure that the musician is broadcast on radio. Employees of the department receive new songs from the performers and send them to the radio stations, which is the key to the future well-being of the record company.

Other divisions inform the department about the chosen promotion strategies and advise how best to sell the artist. Together with the new media department, promoters are involved in distributing music videos on television and Internet sites.

Department of Public Relations (Publicity)

The people working here ensure that new and old musicians are talked about in the media. The department of public relations prepares and publishes publications in newspapers and magazines and controls the coverage of the creative work of performers on television and radio.

Many musicians additionally attract their own journalists and writers who write about their work and work in collaboration with this department.

Sales Department (Sales)

The spread of music. Sales staff communicate with music stores and venues and deliver new releases to store shelves.

Sales actively cooperate with the promotion department and the department of public relations, choosing the most successful time to start sales.

The volume of the music market

The global music market is divided between the Big Three label companies and a group of independent music companies.

The global music market is divided between the Big Three label companies and a group of independent music companies

Since 2005, the music market has been declining. According to the analytical company IFPI in 2005, the market volume was $ 20.7 billion, and in 2015 it decreased to $ 15 billion, losing more than 25% of the volume. In 2016, the volume of the music market amounted to $ 15.7 billion.

The reasons for the decrease are obvious - the emergence of many new ways of distributing music.

The reasons for the decrease are obvious - the emergence of many new ways of distributing music

The volume of the music market in 2005-2016.

How a music label finds new musicians

In each music label there is an A & R department - a kind of entrance gate to the music industry. A & R is considered the most prestigious and important department of any company. To appreciate the importance, imagine that you were the first to reveal Madonna, Aerosmith or Britney Spears to the world.

The abbreviation A & R means "Artist and Repertoire" (Artists and Repertoire), although the musicians joke that it is more correct to spell out the abbreviation as "Attitude and Rejection", that is, "Relationship and Rejection." You can subscribe to a music label only once in the field of view of this department - there is no other way.

Before the development of the Internet in the 2000s, the musicians sent recorded demos on tapes and discs to the A & R departments of the labels. Employees of the departments, in turn, listened to the records sent in the hope of finding a new talent.

Today, when the number of demos sent daily amounts to hundreds, this practice has come to naught. The chance that a disk or flash drive with songs of a new musician will fall into the field of view of the label's snooper is zero. A & R employees themselves rely more on the opinions of friends, agents, managers and other industry workers who hand over the records to them personally.

Each employee has his own approach to finding new names. Tom Devine, who has been working at A & R for Columbia Records for more than 20 years, says that he primarily listens to demos from trusted sources — friends and business partners. Due to a long stay in the industry, it is easier to get attention of Divine - it’s enough to find someone who knows him and interest this person.

Max Guss from Epic Records prefers to independently study the music industry for free niches in the market that can be occupied. Guss notes that it is more interesting for him to look for performers who are doing something new, rather than working with already developed niches.

Interested in A & R department - half the battle. Each bloodhound is personally responsible for the new musician, so the failure of the performers may cost the employee a position. Performers need not only to interest the search engine, but also to convince him of his success.

Getting into the music business is very difficult, especially for a group that has no connections in the industry. With someone who can vouch for you, it’s easier to get on the label. Only after an A & R department employee shows interest in the contractor and convinces the management of the need to sign it, does the label include all other departments in the work.

Only after an A & R department employee shows interest in the contractor and convinces the management of the need to sign it, does the label include all other departments in the work

As a band or artist, get on the label.

Let's see what will happen with the group "Square Circles", who wants to subscribe to the label. Before the musicians sign a contract with a record company, they must be noticed by the representatives of the label.

Search engines from Balls Records are sent to a concert where our band performs. Having enjoyed the performance of the band, the employees of the A & R department convince the label management to sign a contract with the Square circles. This starts the process of introducing the band into the music industry and activates all other divisions of the record company.

The next step for the group is recording the album. The head of the A & R service finds the producer, with whom he develops the concept of the album and selects the songs for the record. Balls Records provides the group with a budget from which studio engineers, sound engineers, session musicians are paid, as well as the rental of the recording studio itself. In turn, the representative of the A & R department plans the recording schedule.

Parallel to this, other departments of the record company are involved in the work. Balls Records allocates a budget for advertising, album artwork, publishing, and media coverage. While designers, copywriters and artists are working, the A & R specialist together with the marketing, sales and public relations department are planning an album release date.

It is important for a music label that Square circles be properly represented at the federal, regional and local level. The Department for the Development of Performers reserves concert venues and schedules performances. At the same time, a promotional tour is being prepared, within the framework of which musicians will appear on television and radio. The extent of preparation and the frequency of appearance of musicians on the air and the media depend entirely on the budget.

As the release date of the album approaches, the company's departments are actively working with the press. At this stage it is important for the label that the release of the plate is properly illuminated. All departments work as a single mechanism aimed at ensuring that the forthcoming album of Square Circles will be distributed as widely as possible. Sales are directly dependent on how smoothly and efficiently all participants in the process work: from the musicians themselves to radio stations and music stores.

What is the price of a song, single or album?

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), there are many factors that affect the final cost of a song, album, single, and the entire disc. Compared to the cost of producing music, printing a batch of CDs costs almost nothing.

Signing an artist implies a large amount of the most diverse work. The music business is not only parties and get-togethers of rock stars.

Why labels are not going anywhere

Despite the development of streaming services and constant stories about changes in music consumption, labels will not disappear. The music industry is designed so that all participants are interested in the existence of each other.

Labels live by distributing music: the greater the number of distribution channels, the greater the profit. Radio stations and streaming services exist at the expense of advertising. In order to sell advertising time, the sites need listeners. Regular and new listeners will not appear without playing new music.

At the same time, without radio stations and streaming platforms, students will not learn about new releases and performers. And without this, it will not be possible to sell albums.

When a record company releases an album, it buys airtime on the radio. The purchase of ether guarantees a certain number of broadcasts of songs from the record being released. In order for the album to be sold and make a profit, it is important for the label that the songs be broadcast as often as possible. Therefore, companies are ready for anything to increase sales.

Giant music labels and independent players

The harder it became to hit a major music label, the more actively independent record companies developed. However, there are not many independent labels.

It's not difficult to open your label - it is much more difficult to develop it. Search for new performers, record music, develop promotion concepts and marketing strategies, as well as communicate with media representatives is incredibly difficult when there are only a few people in your company. Often in small record companies, the functions of several departments are combined by one employee.

This does not mean that an independent music label will not succeed. Just to achieve it will take a lot more work.

According to the site Record Labels & Companies Guide , indie labels can succeed if they focus on a particular genre of music or a local market. Often, large companies may not pay attention to interesting local artists, which opens the way for indie labels.

Independent label SubPop was a success by focusing on punk and Grand Seattle. GoKart Records earns on the same scene in New York. Alligator Records only works with blues, while Moonshine Records specializes in electronic dance music.

The development of the Internet also plays into the hands of independent companies. Small record labels sell music on the Web without resorting to more traditional methods of distributing releases through music stores.

At the same time, it becomes easier for musicians to distribute their music with the support of even indie labels they work with online. Sites like College music journal These are platforms connecting independent labels and novice musicians.

A source:

What is a music label?
What is a music label?
How many music labels?
What is the price of a song, single or album?