Posted on 18th january 2019 by the eric team
So what exactly is a record label? Record labels primarily focus on the ‘recordings’ side of music. Dealing more-so with the artists than the songwriters (publishers do that bit). Although, if we’re being pedantic, an artist can be both but let’s not complicate things for the time being.
There are many cogs that make up a fully functioning label, here are the fundamental ones below:
AKA ‘Artist & Repertoire’. Fancy yourself as a bit of a Sherlock Holmes, do you? Well, put down that tweed hat (trust us, it doesn’t look good anyway) and pick up your earphones as you’re on the search for the crooners of tomorrow. This department works very closely with the signee, in addition to the other label departments in planning the career path of the artist.
In charge of planning the long-term campaign of an album, it can be argued that how you market something is as important (if not more important) than the quality of your product. What use is having a diamond if it's just hiding under your bed when the person next to you is flogging their overly polished pebbles for cash? This department has a range of roles on offer including: album artwork creation, shooting promotional videos and product management to name but a few. The marketing department communicates closely with the promotion, publicity and sales departments to help not only launch an album into the public eye, but keep it there.
With the key responsibility of getting the artist and it’s music to the public, building relationships and networks with radio stations and video channels are therefore essential. Where the marketing department could be seen as the team to ‘gift wrap' the album, the promotions team are the individuals who hand it over to media platforms with a big, toothy smile. Good interpersonal skills such as negotiation abilities and an over-winking eye will serve you well in this team.
This department primarily deals with the press relations of the artist. For example upon the release of an album or commencement of a tour, they will look out for press opportunities to spread the message on a larger scale. This could be in the form of pitching interviews, album reviews, getting the artists spots on TV shows and radio. Having a thick book of contacts is important as you'll be relying heavily on newspapers, radio stations and websites for coverage fn the artist you are trying to break or perhaps one which is already established and making a return to the music scene.
The sales department in essence works to get albums onto the shelves of retail stores and onto listening devices of the fans - so they work both on physical and digital products. Individuals in this team really do need to possess the gift of being able to 'sell ice to Eskimos' as your job will ultimately be convincing the likes of iTunes or HMV just why they should place your artists’ track on their platforms as oppose to the blu-ray special of '50 Ways To Die'.
Digital / New Media
The digital team deals more with the technological side of the business for example, the upkeep of an artist’s online presence. And furthering this point, the analytics of their social media following e.g. what platforms are best for the type of artist that they're working with, what the demographic of their followers is and so on. Also part of the digital spectrum is the placement of music videos across various online platforms and not forgetting the launching of tracks on various music streaming services and the consequent analysis of this.
Legal & Business Affairs
The Legal and Business Affairs teams are responsible for negotiating and drafting commercial deals and contracts on behalf of the business (e.g. Kylie’s new gold hotpants collaboration with H&M), providing commercial and legal support (e.g. when an artist thinks they’ve made a hit song but A&R can clearly hear they’ve stolen the melody of Celine Dion's ‘Titanic’), as well as handling any disputes (e.g. if your artist gets into a twitter war with a fan - total crisis mode).
The team is involved at every stage in an artist's career, working with the A&R departments to negotiate recording, publishing, merchandising and management agreements. During an artist’s recording process they ensure contracts are in place with producers, re-mixers, musicians and vocalists as well as clearing any samples. Prior to and following the release of a single or album, they work with the marketing and promotion departments negotiating and drafting deals relating to the production of promo videos, the design of cover artwork and logos, recording of live TV, radio and online sessions and festival appearances. Following release, they oversee contracts dealing with compilation and synchronisation licenses, brand partnerships and the exploitation of artists’ catalogue recordings, as well as overseeing the legal aspects of the labels’ business in the international territories. Good grief, when do they sleep?!
Written by The ERIC Team
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