Departments of A Record Label
Although it might not seem it, recording labels function just like other businesses do. They have a product/service (music) that must be marketed and promoted. In exchange for music, the record companies accept monetary compensation.
This post will provide a brief overview of record label departments and their function within the music business.
A CEO/President/Owner of a record label wears many hats. His or her main duty is focusing on the overall direction of the Label itself. What type of artists to sign, methods of marketing, and basically having the final say and approval over each departments’ day-to-day operations as reported by the Vice President. A CEO in a Major Label is more responsible for the politics “behind the scene,” than say an owner of a small Independent Label. An Independent Label CEO might be more involved with day-to-day operations, banking, marketing, and networking.
Business Affairs or Accounting Department
This department deals with the business side of things. It takes care of bookkeeping, payroll and general finances.
Source: How Record Labels Work
The Marketing Department is responsible for creating the overall marketing plan for every record the label is releasing. They are also involved in coordinating all the promotion, publicity, and sales campaigns that the record label is committed to.
Source: Inside Record Labels
Sales And Distribution Department
This department deals with the machinery of getting the products to the point of sale, taking orders, and satisfying demand.
Source: Record Companies
A & R stands for ‘Artists and Repertoire’. These are the talent spotters, the first point of contact between band/artist and record company. They find the talent, they sign it up and they handle what music they record and release. This includes choosing the right studios and producers, negotiating their fees, booking any extra session singers, musicians or ‘guest stars’, and taking delivery of the master tapes and so on.
A junior position would be as a scout – going to dozens of gigs, listening to dozens of tapes, talking to dozens of contacts like promoters and journalists and then persuading your boss to check out the hot new act you’ve just discovered. Other entry-level jobs could be A & R assistant or department co-ordinator, both of which would be more administrative, office-based jobs.
The more senior members of the team would be, in ascending order, A & R administrators, A & R managers and eventually the A & R director who has the final say on who gets signed. A & R people may only sign between one and three new acts a year – and their reputation rests on how successful these acts turn out to be.
New artists or bands are paid an ‘advance’ ranging from £50,000 to £500,000 or even more, on signature of their contract with a record company. The contract usually stipulates the duration of the working relationship; it could be, say, a ‘two-album deal’. If the artist/band then fails to make enough money to recoup their advance they’ll more than likely be dropped. If they are phenomenally successful, however, and other labels start to woo them into signing with them when their initial contract expires, the A & R department’s job is to keep hold of them.
A & R is also about working with artists/bands and their managers for the duration of their career with a label – finding the best songwriters and producers for them, advising on which songs should become singles, working on their image and generally helping them make the right artistic and commercial decisions.
This group is responsible for getting the word out about a new or established artist. It arranges for articles to be written in newspapers and magazines. They also deal with radio and television coverage of an artist. Many artists also have their own independent publicists who help coordinate publicity with this department as well.
Usually, with great success comes greater legal issues. It is for this reason that most record labels have a legal department to handle all contracts between musicians and the label and between the label and any other companies they may utilize. The legal department also is called to action should a lawsuit, copyright infringement or other legal issue arise that is directly related to a musician and the record label.
Source: Functions of A Record Label
These are just a sample of some of the major departments of a record label. As the music industry continues to be transformed by the digital music downloads market, new departments are added.