In this installment of An Insider's Guide to Today's Music Biz, Steve Rennie explores the role of record labels in the music business. He starts by talking about the different types of record labels and what they do, from marketing to manufacturing and radio promotion. Then you'll learn about why you need a record label, how to get a record deal, what a music contract will look like, and how the signing process works. As a little bonus, Steve gives you some insights on your commitments and compensation (advances and royalties) once you get signed.
- Understanding how record labels run
- Finding a record label
- Meeting with A&R and business teams at a record label
- How record labels promote your music
- Negotiating a record deal
- How record labels recoup costs
Skill Level Beginner
- It's impossible to have a discussion about the music business without discussing the role of record labels in that process. Too often these days I find the discussion over the value of a label, what they do, why they do it, and how they do it gets lost in this debate over how artists get paid. How artists get paid a fair share for their work is a hugely important topic, and we'll talk about that a lot more when we talk about record deals. But to really understand the importance of record labels, you need to separate what they do from how you get paid.
Focusing on the money first will obscure all the things it takes to create the awareness for money to change hands. The labels have a valuable role to play, and they are not going away. Understanding what labels do and how they do it is one of the most important things to know, whether you're an artist or a music professional. For almost every artist who aspires to do something big in the music business, you are probably going to need a great record label to help make it happen.
In this first part of our lesson, I want to separate fact from fiction when it comes to labels. I don't want to get caught in this whole emotional debate of labels. We'll start by talking about the different types of labels you'll find out there, what it takes to be a successful label, what they do and how they are organized to do it. Once we've figured that out, we're going to talk about why you need a record label, how you'll get signed to a record label, and then finally what that record deal will look like and how you'll get paid.
And as a little bonus, I'll give you some thoughts on how you'll manage that record company once you're signed.