- Major Labels
- Independent Labels
- Record Label Control
- Labels Today
Major record labels offer deals to the world’s most successful music artists. These record labels, such as Sony and Universal Music Group, own distribution networks that put the music of the artists they sign to exclusive contracts in the hands of the millions of consumers sometimes in a matter of days or even hours. Major labels sign a range of agreements with their artists, including licensing and distribution agreements, which give them significant cuts of artists' earnings worldwide. Many major record labels also own sub-labels that specialize in publishing, recording, and promoting various music genressuch as country, Latin, jazz, and hip-hop.
Often with barely enough money to keep their office lights on, independent, or indie, record labels sit on the cutting edge of the music scene, giving low-paying deals to up-and-coming artists, which help them become known. Indie record labels are known as such because they are independent companies without corporate backers. True indie labels have smaller distribution networks than their big label counterparts and typically reach consumers one at a time. However, indie labels have a strong reputation for having their fingers on the pulse of upcoming music trends and for giving chances to unknown artists who eventually become international sensations.
Record labels typically set the terms and conditions of artist contractsin their favor. In the case of newly signed artists, record labels can control the type of music they record, which can include everything from the way the music sounds to the song lyrics. They also control album cover art in most instances. Depending on the contract structure, record labels also have the ability to set the amount of money their artists earn. While the relationship between artists and their record labels is often mutually beneficial, there always is the possibility of that relationship becoming contentious. The more successful artists get, the greater their ability to renegotiate contracts to include more favorable terms.
Throughout the 20th century, record labels were the dominant force behind the most successful artists. Record labels had the power to make or break artists, depending on the amount of money they invested in promotingtheir music. The internet has freed artists from dependence on record labels, and many artists market and distribute their music independently through social media and streaming platforms at a much lower cost. To stay in business, given the reality of the digital age, record labels now offer so-called 360 dealsto artists that give them a cut of all the artist's work, including album sales, media appearances, and product endorsements.
- Why We Wrote This Guide
- Who This Guide Is For
- What Is A Record Label?
- The Big Three
- Types of Labels
- Structure of A Major Label
- Record Labels & Artists
Record labels have been around nearly as long as recorded sound. For years, being signed to a label was thought to be synonymous with “making it” in the music industry. While the internet and digital technology have made it easier for artists to succeed without record labels, they still play major roles in the industry. However, many individuals lack a basic understanding of the responsibilities, structure, or history of record labels. We wrote this guide to explain just what a record label is and does.Individuals hoping to work in the music business that are curious about the departments and structures of record labels.Music lovers who want to know more about the past and present of record labels in order to better understand just how music comes to the public.
Record labels are companies, large or small, that manufacture, distribute, and promote the recordingsof affiliated musicians. Essentially, record labels work to sell the brand of the artist and the products they create. There are various different departments within record labels that work together to best sell their products and artists.
Record labels began emerging in the late 1800s when phonographs and phonorecords began to commercialize as technology allowed mass production. By the end of the century, three record companies had established themselves as the leaders of the industry: the Thomas A. Edison Company, Victor Talking Machine Company, and Columbia Phonograph Company. In the late 1910s, the original patents on audio recording technologies expired and entered the public domain. The access to these innovations led to the emergence of independent labels throughout the twenties. Simultaneously, the invention of radio was becoming popular and taking consumers away from the recorded music industry. Lastly, the Great Depression was preventing consumers from purchasing many luxuries at all. The combined result was a decline of the record industry in the late twenties and early thirties. The industry also consolidated in the late twenties as Victor and CBS both acquired labels. Edison, the company that led the audi...
There are three main types of record labels: major labels, major label subsidiaries, and independent labels (see our Major vs. Indie guide, here). Today, the record companies considered to be major labels are referred to as the “big three.” In 2016, the big three possessed nearly 70% of the world market share of recorded music: Universal Music Group (28.9%), Sony Music Entertainment (22.4%), and Warner Music Group (28.9%). Warner Music Group has three main record labels: Atlantic, Warner Bros., and Parlophone. Under each of the main groups, there are several smaller labels. Alongside that, Warner Bros. has international labels, distribution alliances, and multiple smaller record label groups. Universal Music Group’s main record labels are Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Capitol Music Group, Republic Records, Island Records, Def Jam Records, Caroline Records, The Verve Label Group, and various smaller groups and international labels. Again, each of the main label groups have authority...
The largest type of label is a major label. As stated previously, the three major labels are Sony, Universal, and Warner. Labels such as RCA Records (Sony), Capitol Music Group (UMG), and Atlantic Records (WMG) are all major labels. The labels directly under their leadership, still within their parent label’s jurisdiction, are the major label subsidiaries that are in the middle ground between major and independent labels. These can be referred to as “sub-labels” or “affiliated labels”. The true definition of an independent label is fairly complex. Some labels affiliated with major companies are still considered independent. Often, independent labels use distribution services provided by major labels. The real difference between a sub-label from a non-affiliated independent label is if the label shares their services with a major label under an umbrella of sorts.
Major record labels are led by a board of directors and executiveslike the president and vice president of the company. The board of directors oversees everything and has the final say on major decisions. The Label Liaisonis either one person or a small group of people. The liaison acts as the spokesperson in communications between the label they work for and the parent label or distributor. The Artist and Repertoire (A&R) departmentof a record label is the portion of a record company that is responsible for finding new talent and convincing them to sign with their label. They seek out talent by going to live shows, keeping up with industry developments and breakout artists, listening to demos, and networking. When A&R representatives find talent deemed worthy of a record deal, they lead negotiations between the label and the prospective artist. They continue involvement with the artist throughout their career by supporting the recording and promotion processes. The A&R department i...
There are a variety of different recording contracts (“deals”) that record labels offer artists. The important thing to understand is that labels sign artists in order to promote them so that they will make money, which will go back to the record label. When artists sign to a record label, they agree that the record label will take a portion of the royalties the recording generates. In exchange, artists can be provided with a vast network of professional connections, specialized marketing campaigns, and a plethora of other services (not to mention an advance and royalties after recoupment). Contracts between labels and artists often include the type of deal being made, any limitations, the term or duration of the deal, the amount of money exchanging hands and when it will be paid back, and any obligations that the artist must meet before the deal ends. See our guide to music industry contracts here. There is no cut and dry method to deciding when an artist should sign with a label (...
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Aug 09, 2012 · ROSTER – When a record label refers to their roster, they are talking about the list of artists and bands that they currently have signed to them and are working with. SUBSIDIARY LABEL – The major labels are made up of many smaller subsidiary record labels which operate under the same umbrella. For instance, Columbia Records is part of major label Sony BMG.
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark of music recordings and music videos, or the company that owns it. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their mana
People also ask
What does it mean to be signed to a record label?
What do record labels pay for?
What do you need to know about record labels?
What are the five major record labels?
Well, it is essentially what it says on the tin – a ‘label’ that represents the music of artists. There are two types of music record labels: major and independent (indie). There are only 3 major record labels in the UK and they are Sony, Universal, and Warner Music.
A recording contract might seem like the Holy Grail, but record labels are not charity concerns and their contracts are not set up with your interests in mind. Our guide to contract terms, written by an entertainment lawyer, explains what it all means and what the implications are for the artist.
Jan 01, 2019 · The Artist and Repertoire (A&R) department of a record label is the portion of a record company that is responsible for finding new talent and convincing them to sign with their label. When A&R representatives find talent deemed worthy of a record deal, they lead negotiations between the label and the prospective artist.
- The History of The Record and Labels
- The Big Labels
- The Big 3 Record Companies
- Other Popular Record Labels
The beginning of the record label begins with the start of records. The very first recordings weren’t on vinyl and they weren’t music. But it didn’t take long for people to realize that the record player was perfect for music at home. The first record deal was probably the 1904 agreement between Victor Talking-Machine Company and an artist. They gave that artist $4000 per song and $0.40 per sale. This led to the first platinum record sales. From that point on, the industry evolved. The term record label refers directly to the label that was printed and attached to the records. The company that produced the album wanted to put their name out there as well as the artist’s name and they clearly did on the labels.
The really big record labels are often owned by bigger companies that have a lot of different businesses. Sometimes they do well and focus on the music aspect and other times they decide to let go of the music end of their business and sell off a label and all that goes with it. Because of this, there has been a lot of change and names have come and gone. Today, there are three big record labels. That’s right, just three of them. This is the least there’s even been, but it involves a whole lot of mergers over the years.
These Big 3 music companies control almost all of the music industry. They are the distributors, the label owners, and the coordinators of the artists’ rights. 1. Universal Music GroupUniversal Music Group, sometimes called UMG Recordings, Inc. is an American company. While they are an American company, their majority owner is a French media conglomerate called Vivendi, and a Chinese tech company, Tencent, owns a minority share.Job type you wantFull TimePart TimeInternshipTemporaryThey have a gigantic group of labels and brands that work under this umbrella company. Their catalog includes companies all across the globe, from Argentina to the United States and 40 countries in-between.Their holdings in the United States are some of the best-known record labels from the past and include: 1.1. Capitol Music Group 1.2. Def Jam Recordings 1.3. Fame House 1.4. Interscope Geffen A&M 1.5. Island Records 1.6. Polygram Entertainment 1.7. Republic Records 1.8. Spinefarm Records 1.9. Universal M...
The most successful record labels and the ones you’re familiar with are probably all owned by one of the Big 3 major labels. 1. InterscopeOwned by UMG, Interscope was founded in the 90s and had a model of letting the artists and producers have full creative control. They were a huge part of a gangsta rap controversy in the mid-90s and were owned, at the time, by Warner. Warner cut ties, and Universal picked them up.Based in Santa Monica, California, Interscope is “home” to Dr. Dre, Eminem, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Maroon 5, U2, and Billie Eilish. 2. RCA RecordsRCA Records is owned by Sony Music Entertainment and is one of their four flagship labels. Because RCA has been around so long, they’re the second oldest record label in America, they’ve branched out into a lot of different genres. This is something that not every record label can do successfully.They can be found on pop, classical, rock, hip-hop, afrobeat, electronic, R&B,...
Lists of record labels cover record labels, brands or trademarks associated with marketing of music recordings and music videos. The lists are organized alphabetically, by genre, by company and by location.