Friday, July 13, 2012

Building A Record Label

Record labels continue to consolidate and internal departments continue to merge. However, it is important for future record industry executives to have some idea of the internal mechanisms that exist within a major label. In fact, independent labels have to incorporate many of the same responsibilities within their infrastructure in order to compete in today's marketplace.

Some of the departments may seem obvious to some of the more experienced readers. However, even you can benefit from knowing what tasks need to be tackled and accomplished in order to be a fully functional recording labelindependent or major.

It is important to remember that a record company is defined by foundational concepts:
1. Equity in the copyright of the sound recording
2. An ability to promote
3. An ability to distribute

Keeping these underlying concepts in mind, a label can then be about anything the owners want it to be about. Many people hate to concede to the idea that a record label is ultimately about making money, then hopefully about making great music. Although, the latter has been falling farther and farther behind in today's marketplace.
Suffice it to say, the label's departments must also be working toward the common goal in their own ways. Below is a general list of departments within a record label and the responsibilities of each department. Remember with smaller labels, departments are smaller and therefore, many tasks are accomplished by fewer people.

CEO
1. Crafts strategy and implements agenda of corporate parent company
2. May not be involved in day-to-day operations
3. May be responsible for the business affairs of all affiliated labels under the corporate umbrella
4. Reports to executive at corporate parent company

PRESIDENT
1. Responsible for entire record label
2. Reports to CEO
3. Less removed than CEO and may be involved in day-to-day operations and high profile signings

BUSINESS AFFAIRS
Responsible for all contract negotiations and legal affairs

FINANCE/ACCOUNTING
Responsible for all financial functions, payroll, royalty accounting and financial reporting

LABEL LIAISON
1. One person or a small group of people
2. Serves as liaison between record company's distribution company and the record company
3. Helps decide when to release an album and makes sure it doesn't conflict with any other labels the record company owns

A&R
1. Finds new artists (works with a research team to uncover important market research statistics/numbers)
2. Finding artists' material
3. Liaison between artist and all other departments of the record company
4. Coordinates across departments for projects
5. Product Manager (your manager within the label)

PROMOTIONS
1. Primary function is to service radio stations with product and secure airplay
2. Manages independent promoters and contractors
3. Works closely with radio stations on contests, concerts, giveaways, etc.
4. Works closely with new media and marketing

SALES
1. Primary function is to service retail with product and oversee retail initiatives
2. Services national and independent accounts
3. Instrumental in planning release schedule, initial unit volume, and solicitation strategies
4. Works closely with marketing and promotion to track radio airplay

MARKETING
1. Creates strategic marketing plan for the company as well as, specific artists and their releases
2. Instrumental in seeking strategic alliances for the label (Consumer Products, advertising, radio/tv/film)

PUBLICITY
1. Gets the word out
2. Writes press releases
3. Helps secure personal appearances radio interviews, television exposure, featured articles
4. Works with artist's independent publicist if applicable

NEW MEDIA
1. Responsible for dealing with some of the newer aspects of the music business
2. Creates Online Presence social networks, online reviews and feature, blogs, website, streaming music, etc.
3. Responsible for producing and creating music videos for the artist

MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTION
1. Coordinates
2. Pressing
3. Packaging
4. Shipping
5. Warehousing and Inventory Management
6. Digital Distribution
7. Rack Jobbers, One Stops, Record Clubs

The aforementioned departments and their tasks are for general reference only. Each specific label has their own way of accomplishing tasks, assigning names to departments, and ultimately selling product. However, note the information, use it to perhaps build your labels' infrastructure or to possibly look for a position in the music business, and then build upon it for further success in the music business.

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