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EDUCATION

A record label is a company that signs record deals with musicians to manufacture, distribute, and market their recorded music. 

Major labels are global organizations that operate their publishing and distribution companies. The major record labels, also known as the “Big Three”, are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group

INDEPENDENT LABELS

An independent label, unlike the major labels, is independently funded. Indie labels aren't associated with the major labels and don’t have their publishing or distribution companies but rather work with smaller companies.

 

Indie labels also work together with major labels, below you’ll find some examples of those deals.

THE "BIG THREE"
MUSIC GROUPS/RECORD COMPANIES

label

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Here the major label finances the indie label and reimburses itself from record sales income. The remaining net profits are split between the two labels. This deal is an agreement where both labels share control over the creation of records and their following marketing and promotion.

Pressing and Distribution Deal (‘p&b’):

In this deal, the financing of the recording process comes from the indie label, which then sends the final master recording to a major label, and the major label takes care of manufacturing and distributing the record.

Equity deals:

In this scenario, the major label invests in the indie label and owns part or all of the indie label, its assets, and artist contracts. 

CHAIRMAN/CEO

STRUCTURE OF A RECORD LABEL

 

Major labels are usually led by executives, like the president and vice president of the company, and a board of directors. The board is the leading force when it comes to major decisions and oversees everything. 

 

The Label Liaison represents the label they work for in communications with the parent label or distributor and is either one person or a small group of people.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT (EVP)

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT (SVP)

VICE PRESIDENT (VP)

SENIOR DIRECTOR

HIERARCHY

(JUNIOR) DIRECTOR

MANAGER

STEP 1: MAKING MUSIC, MAKING AN ALBUM

producers

ASSISTANT

INTERN

COORDINATOR

ASSOCIATE MANAGER

(simplified)

the departments

* Click on each department to find out more 

STEP 2: DISTRIBUTING THE MUSIC

production & manufacturing

Manage the production of the physical copies (vinyls,
CDs, cassettes)

In CODA VOL. 2 - coming soon... 

STEP 3: PROMOTING THE MUSIC FOR THE RELEASE

DOMESTIC

CODA Vol. 2 - Coming soon...

CODA Vol. 2 - Coming soon...

publicity

Secure interviews and performances on press, tv, social media, etc.

CODA Vol 2 - Coming soon...

INTERNATIONAL

STEP 4: PROMOTING THE MUSIC IN THE LONG TERM

sync (or film/tv)

Place songs on trailer, tv shows, video games, movies, etc.

In CODA Vol 2 - Coming soon ...

catalog

Promote the songs 18 months after the original release.

In CODA Vol. 2 - Coming soon...

music supervisors

touring & live events

Strategize the timing and routing of the tour based on new releases, and audience and demographics data.

In CODA Vol. 2 - Coming soon...

booking agents

tour managers

brands

Knab, C. (2008). Deals That Await Successful Independent Music Labels. Musicbizacademy. http://www.musicbizacademy.com/knab/articles/deals.htm

MCDONALD, H. (2019a). Here Is a Look at How Indie Record Labels Work. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/signing-with-an-indie-label-2460744

 

MCDONALD, H. (2019b). The Pros and Cons of Independent Record Label Deals. The Balance Careers. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/indie-record-deals-assesing-the-pros-and-cons-2460376

Written by Louisa & Stefani
Published June 17th 2021
Copyright © 2021 Coda Collectiv.