What is the Music Industry?
The music industry is a global business that generates profit from
selling musical recording in both digital and physical, it is a
complex and competitive business which within it’s umbrella
definition, hold several fundamental aspects of music, one being
‘record labels/companies who are constantly devising new ways
to attract the mass audience of consumers who buy music.
Record labels are very important as they contribute to most of
the production that occurs in the Music Industry. The diagram
below highlight the various roles undertaken by record labels.
Scouting for New
Distinguishing Record Labels &
Record Company - Is the company or organisation responsible for
all the record labels inside the organisation. Record companies
create new labels to reflect the varied genres of artists they
represent. The creation of different record labels allows them to
target their projected markets accurately while still controlling
the overall running of the business.
Record Label – is a company that runs within a bigger organisation,
although a functioning business in is own right all the profits
made by the label return to the company. Examples include EMI
Major Music Organisations
Although complex it is possible to divide record companies into two
categories, Major and Independent.
Major companies are institutions that operate on a global scale,
they are distinct from independent because they control all
aspects of the production and distribution of their music, prime
examples of majors are as follows.
Independent Music Organisations
Independent record labels are small-scale companies who rely on
distribution deal on other and often major companies, although
independent organisations are only a small percentage, it has
been calculated that as many as 3,000 record companies in the
UK are responsible for 14,000 record labels.
The notion of independence is problematic; some labels appear to
be independent but are actually ‘vanity labels’ or just subsidiaries
of major companies, this is done to add some credibility to the
artist and is an attractive selling point for potential music
Vanity Label – Originated in the 1960s and is the name given to a
label within an existing record company that is owned by a famous
Distribution & Marketing
Once an artist has created a recording they are happy with, it is then
distributed and marketed in order to attempt to make a profit and
cover the cost of it’s production, it is a labels responsibility to promote
and sell the product. Record companies must market the music to the
intended target audience, this is done in many ways.
Radio – plays an important role in promoting the artist via frequent
airplay on popular channels.
Television – the popularity of music channels such as MTV help promote
a recording artist with more of a global audience.
Music Press – have a close relationship with the industry and influence
the popularity and promotion of the artist.
Internet – official websites help reinforce the image and sound of the
This is another common way in which record companies generate
income via advertisement and marketing their artists with brands
or products. This occurs when one branch of a company uses
another part of the company to promote each other. But
synergy does not have to occur within the same company for
example; The Black Eyed Peas and Pepsi worked together to
target a broader audience, this collaboration benefited both the
band and the soft drink.
Synergy – When two different media organisations join forces in
order to reach a wider audience and strengthen their individual
• Case Study
Fifty is a successful solo rap artist
who promoted himself through
different media institutions, in
2003 he signed a five year
contract with Reebok to
distribute G-Unit clothing
Additionally he provided the voice
for the protagonist in the video
game ‘50 Cent: Bulletproof’
released for PS2, XBOX and PSP.
Bob Dylan worked along side
Starbucks and Apple to
promote his music. Apple
benefitted by promoting their
new technology to an older
audience and Starbucks
increased sales inside their
stores by being the only store to
sell a one-off Bob Dylan album
especially for them.