UNDER THE RECORD COMPANY
The middleman between the record label and the retailers (physical & digital).
The sales department manages all the retail activities of the label both physical (CDs, vinyls, cassettes…) and digital (streaming platforms, digital sales). A few decades ago, this department was only focused on the physical side. Their goal was to create a relationship with the record store chains and market retailers to distribute the albums.
Recently, the rise of DSPs also called the “streaming era”, has changed the listening habits of consumers, drastically reducing the sales of physical copies for a digital subscription. Therefore, the sales department has transformed and is now working mainly with DSPs. Before a release, they make sure the platforms have received the records and are ready for the D-day. They also negotiate deals for royalties payments and ad placements with DSPs.
Their tasks being mainly operational, sales are often found at the record company level meaning there is no one department in each label, but a big one overseeing multiple major labels (ex: in Sony 'Global Digital Business' group oversees the sales work for all major labels - Columbia, Arista, RCA, etc.)
The sales department inside major record companies is a sort of in-house music distribution company. They sign deals with record labels or artists which gives them the right to sell their music to shops (physical or digital). Independent labels usually don’t have their own sales team and go through distribution companies instead.
Today, a lot of digital (only) distribution companies like TuneCore or CD Baby have emerged. They allow DIY artists to distribute their songs easily to streaming platforms without needing a label.
!! LABEL VS RECORD COMPANY !!
1 TEAM FOR 1 STREAMING PLATFORM
At the record company level (umbrella for all labels), the sales department is usually composed of different teams focusing on specific streaming platforms. One for all Spotify matters, one for all Pandora inquiries, etc.
They are responsible for making the sales of the label’s CDs, DVDs, and videos. They visit, make phone calls and keep in touch with people outside the label.
They make sure the record has been distributed to DSPs around the world; Spotify, Apple Music but also Gaana and Jioaavn (India), KuGou and QQ (China), etc.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN SALES ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Sales Administrative Assistant @Sony Music US
THE TASKS UNDER THE SALES DEPARTMENT
Whom they work with and what they do
- Distribute artists singles & albums to DSPs on time for the release
- Negotiate business partnerships with DSPs -- Examples:
° Reduced royalties rate per stream for artists of a specific label in exchange for free ad credits
° ‘Artist Social Boost’: DSPs are granted advertising access to an artist's Facebook or Instagram to run
ads offering their followers 3 months free premium. In exchange, the label gets a portion of the profit from the fans signing up through the artist's link
- Partner with DSPs for marketing initiatives such as:
° Billboard in Time Square
° Playlist takeovers
° Example: Olivia Rodrigo's Car Wash with Spotify in LA.
- Licence songs before release
- Make sure the metadata is complete (every detail about the song is filled out - producers, singer, date, title, etc.)
- Curate playlists on streaming platforms to promote their artists
- Establish the number of copies of an album that needs to be produced
- Make sure the production and delivery runs smoothly (with Production Dep)
Is a degree required?
Is a degree recommended?
The recommended majors for the sales department are marketing, sales, and advertising.
Digital Service Provider (DSP) is an online store (iTunes, Amazon Music, etc.) or streaming service (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music) that features digital albums and singles.
Distribution Agreement (M&D deal)
In the music industry, a manufacturing and distribution deal (commonly known as an M&D deal) refers to a standard contractual arrangement between a record label and a music distributor. Under an M&D deal, the distributor pays for the manufacturing costs of an album. Beginning with the pressing process, all the way through to the printing of the labels.
Metadata in the context of music is the information embedded in an audio file that is used to identify the content. If the song file itself is the data, the metadata would be the song title, artist name, track length, BPM, and genre.
Written by Louisa & Ixe
Published June 17th 2021
Copyright © 2021 Coda Collectiv.