What is a label or record company? – Function, operation and examples

Music is one of the oldest and most universal forms of expression that exist. Since ancient times, human beings have created and enjoyed harmonious and melodious sounds that convey emotions, ideas and messages.

Now, how is music produced and distributed today? What role do the entities that are in charge of supporting and promoting musical artists play? In this article we will explain what is a label or record companyhow it works and what examples are there in the music market.

Definition and concept of music label

It is a company that is dedicated to the production, distribution and promotion of musical works made in different countries or languages, for example English, French or Spanish. The term comes from ‘disc’, which was the most common format for storing and playing music until the late 20th century. Today record labels also work with other digital formats such as CD, MP3 or streaming by computer and other devices.

The concept of ‘music label’ It implies a series of activities and functions, which range from the search and hiring of artists. the recording and editing of their songs, the manufacturing and commercialization of their records to the organization of tours, concerts and events. In addition, the record labels are in charge of manage copyright and royalties of its artists, as well as to protect its image and reputation.

What is the role of record labels?

Its main function is to facilitate the artists’ access to the music market and offer them quality services for the development of their career. Some of the services provided by record labels are:

  • Recording and editing of albums, singles and video clips. They have studios equipped with state-of-the-art technology and specialized personnel to capture the sound and image of the artists. They are also in charge of edit and mix the tracksas well as adding effects and musical arrangements if necessary.
  • Design and manufacture of physical and digital formats. This department deals with create the graphic image of musical products, from the design of the covers to the packaging. They are also in charge of manufacturing physical formats, for example CD, vinyl or cassette, and generating digital ones such as MP3, WAV or FLAC.
  • Management of copyright and licenses. Record labels take responsibility for registering musical works with the corresponding entities and for managing the copyright they generate. In addition to this they deal with negotiate and obtain the necessary licenses for the use of music in other media such as film, television, radio or video games.
  • Marketing and publicity. elaborate Strategies to make music known of artists from different genres (whether rock, jazz, bachata, etc.) and generate interest in the public. To do this, they use various communication channels, such as social networks, web pages, blogs, podcasts, magazines, newspapers or posters. They also organize events such as launches, signings or show cases to bring artists closer to their fans.
  • Distribution and sale in physical stores and digital platforms. They are in charge of marketing music products to physical venues or streaming companies such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or Deezer. Similarly, they deal with establish prices and conditions of saleas well as control stock and returns.
  • Public Relations and Media. The record companies maintain contact with them to disseminate the artists’ music and obtain interviews, reviews, critics or reports. In addition to manage public relations with other agents in the music sector such as managers, producers, promoters or festivals.
  • Organization of tours and concerts. They collaborate with artists in order to plan their events and world tours, both national and international. To do this, they are in charge of hiring the venues, the technical equipment, transportation, accommodation and catering, as well as ticket sales and merchandising.
  • Legal and financial advice. Record labels offer these services to artists to protect your interests and rights. They are in charge of drafting and reviewing contracts, invoices, taxes and accounts. They also help them resolve any conflict or claim that may arise.

How do music labels work?

Can be of independent nature or belonging to large groups corporate. The former tend to have more creative freedom and offer artists better conditions, but have fewer resources and scope than the others. The major labels have more bargaining power and access to the media, but they also place more restrictions and demands on musicians.

The work process of a music label consists of several stages:

  1. Hiring. Search and select the artists that interest you to sign a contract with them. The agreement establishes the rights and obligations of both parties, such as the number of albums or singles to recordthe percentage of royalties, the term of duration, etc.
  2. Production. Finance and oversee the recording the album in a studio professional. He also deals with the editing, mixing and mastering of the material. In addition, she can participate in the choice of the repertoire, the design of the art and the name of the album.
  3. Distribution. manufactures and sells the disc in the different formats and channels available, and you can do it directly or through intermediaries such as wholesalers, retailers or digital platforms. It is also in charge of managing copyrights and licenses for the use of songs in other media such as cinema, television or commercials.
  4. Promotion. Spread the record and generate interest among consumers, using various strategies like advertising, social networks, interviews, live performances, video clips, etc. It is also in charge of organizing the artist’s tours and concerts.

Are a music publisher and a record label the same thing?

They are different companies that are dedicated to various aspects of the music industryso composers and artists must sign different contracts with each of them.

On the one hand, the editor manages the copyright of the compositions and offers them to various media and platforms, while the label produces and distributes the recordings, promotes and supports them.

Record Company Examples

There are many record studios in the world, but some of the most important are the following:

  • Universal Music Group (UMG). It is the largest record label in the world, with headquarters in the United States and France. He has more than 40 record labels under his control, including Island, Polydor, Capitol and Motown. Of its most famous artists we can highlight justin bieberLady Gaga, Rihanna, Metallica and Daddy Yankee.
  • Sony Music Entertainment (SME). It is the second largest record company in the world, with headquarters in the United States and Japan. has more than 70 record labels under his command, including Columbia, RCA, Epic and Ariola. With artists with incredible careers like Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Shakira, Santana and Maluma.
  • Warner Music Group (WMG). It is the third largest record company in the world, its headquarters is located in the United States. It has several major subsidiaries, including Atlantic, Warner Chappell and OVO Sound. Some of his most recognized artists are Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Linkin Park and Coldplay.

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