The Music Industry Essay
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In this essay I will be discussing the four main areas of the music industry; I hope to gain knowledge about them and how they connect to one another so I can better myself overall as a musician.
Record Labels are brands that are responsible for marketing the music recordings and music videos of bands/artists; there are two types of record labels, major and independent. There are only 3 major record labels left which are Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group, a record label is classed major when it has more than 5% market share.
Major Record Labels
There are many pros to signing to a major record label and the most obvious and perhaps most important one is that these big companies have a lot of money, this means they will be spending more money promoting your record, which means a higher chance of sales and popularity. Having more cash available also means they will invest a lot in touring, recording and music videos which will all benefit your career in a band or as a solo artist.
Although the pros of signing a major record deal sounds incredibly rewarding, there is a few downsides which may cause a band/artist to be put off.
Firstly, signing to a major record company won’t always last as long as the artist wants it to; if your major label is paying a lot of money to promote you they will not keep you signed if you are not selling records to return the output of money back into their pockets. A lot of the time they will sign a lot of acts just to see what ones are popular and will make money, resulting in the unpopular acts being dropped. Furthermore, things like artist unfriendly deals which leave the artist earning a lot less money than the label and not having full creative control of material are all disadvantages which could leave an artist or band seeking a better deal from in an independent label.
1 Independent Record Labels
An independent record label is a label not associated with the big three major labels, a lot of artists start their career on independent labels. One pro of an independent label is that they love your music; this means they will be working harder with you, this also means you will have close working relationships with the label due to smaller staff and a smaller roster which means you can contact your label easier and ask them questions. Also independent labels have artist friendly deals, you will have more creative control and independent labels are unlikely to contract you to multi album deals. Independent labels also have a few cons and the main one being money, which was the main pro of a major label.
With less money available this will mean you won’t have large recording budgets, huge promotion deals and things like tour support, you will have to support yourself financially which is why a lot of artists would prefer a major record deal. Along with a shortage of money, other cons of indie labels include size which means less purchasing power and also disorganisation. 2 Overall I believe the best type of record label depends on preference, if an artist is seeking fame and fortune a major label deal would be best for them as more money would be available to them and they would be promoted and better known. If an artist felt strongly about the music they wrote and wanted to have full creative control an independent label would be best for them.
How do I get signed?
If you want to get signed to a record label you can start by sending in your demo to the A&R department and then things can advance from there if they like what they hear. Record labels have separate department that help find and sign artists which is A&R, they help find artists by listening to demos, going to gigs and watching recordings of bands to find talent, they would contact the artist and tell them how they would develop them as an artist. Furthermore, they find the right songs for the artist, make sure they work with the right producer and find the right studio; A&R are also the department that handles contract negotiations. As an A&R person you must understand what music is current and what can become popular, this is an important job and you must have a good ear as this person bridges the gap between record labels and artists and can be the person responsible for signing the next big thing. If you want to get signed to a record label you can start by sending in your demo to the A&R department and then things can advance from there if they like what they hear. i What can record labels offer you?
Recording studios are also another thing that comes with a signing a record deal, perks of a recording studio includes top of the range equipment and rooms with excellent acoustics to give your band a better sound when recording, you will also have a well-trained sound engineer to mix and produce your song, however these can be expensive and leave you with less money for things like touring. I believe recording your music in a studio will also give it a better sound which means it will also be more likely to sell. Record labels will also help you distribute your material, Retail is selling your music by physical sales or through the internet, you can sell songs and albums for digital download over the internet on multiple platforms such as iTunes or amazon, once a song is bought a percentage goes to the retailer and the rest to the artist and label. Selling your music on CD is distributed slightly different, labels will discuss with the retailer how many copies they want to order and once an amount has been agreed the cd’s will be shipped then sold. Overall I believe selling your music for digital purchase is better as internet sales are becoming very popular as people can download songs straight to their phones, also you make less of a loss if your songs don’t sell on iTunes or amazon etc. as you haven’t had to pay for CD printing.ii Music Publishing:
A music publisher or music publishing company is in charge of making sure songwriters and composers receive their royalty payments when their compositions are used commercially.3 They will also help distribute and promote music that is created, license songs to record companies and copyright songs and compositions, their job is to promote and protect songs and compositions. Finding songwriters and composers in a music publishing company is also handled by A&R, songwriters and composers can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites; furthermore there are traditional methods like going to gigs to find songwriters and composers.
One of the most important jobs to a music publisher is promoting songs, this means getting the songs to be used in ways that earn money. They can talk to music supervisors to get songs played in films, TV shows and advertisements which can bring in a lot of money due to synchronisation rights and royalties. 5 Publishers will have a network of contacts that they can promote to and then negotiate a license with. They can also make deals with musicians that want to use songs their clients have written/composes. It is very important that a music publisher or music publishing company promotes well because getting your music heard and recognised can be the forefront to your success.
Copyright means protecting material and allowing composers to be paid for their work, if something is copyrighted it means the creators of the material are in charge of it and can decide who uses their work and what circumstances it is used in. In a song the musical work and lyrics are both protected, to copyright something it has to be original and not copied; it must be recorded on paper or on CD. It is important a music publisher copyrights their songwriters/composers material otherwise it can be copied by other people and they will not be able to prosecute in court without copyright. 6
Performing rights are the right to perform songs in a public place; it is part of copyright law and means the composer/songwriter and publisher will be paid, the royalties would be split 50/50. Performance rights mean a group who are not copyright holders are performing a piece of music publicly, performances are considered public if they are in a public place such as a nightclub, restaurant or at a concert. This is another reason why it is important for a music publishing company to copyright their client’s music, so they can claim royalties and money can be made from their material.
Live performance includes things like gigs and festivals, I will be discussing some of the roles that make a live performance and how they work.
Promoting a Live Performance
The main thing that completes a live performance is people, without people turning up to your live performance you will fail to create an atmosphere and most importantly not make any money back from the high costs of renting a venue hiring staff etc. So to get people to come along to your event/performance you need to promote. Promoting techniques you can use include printing off posters and posting them everywhere you can, ask small shops if you can put them in the windows or even stick them to lampposts.
However you need a good eye catching poster otherwise it will go unnoticed. Other ways to promote include promoting your event on social networking like Facebook and Twitter, you can create an event and invite as many people as you like; people are likely to see this as a lot of people have their phones on them all the time and will receive a notification when invited7. Online and physical ways of promoting can both be effective when done right, but if you want a large amount of people to notice your event and consider coming you need to do both online and physical promotion.
Setting up a live performance
To set up for a live performance you need to start by gathering some equipment. It is advisable you go and take a look at the venue a few weeks before the show day so you can see what equipment needs to be brought along, things to look out for include seeing if the venue has a PA, if not you may want to hire or invest in one; if you are hosting the event at your own venue it is worth buying your own PA to save money in the long term. Other things include staging space, make sure there is ample floor space for the performers to stand and you may want to bring a stage/drum riser if there aren’t any there already. Lighting can also be important in bringing atmosphere to a performance. Finally, you will at least a handful of staff on the night such as security, stagehands and a sound engineer. 8When hosting an event you may want to choose for more expensive equipment whilst saving money on staff, good equipment will improve sound and experience meaning people will want to come again; but you can get away with hiring people for not much at all as people are happy to get into a free show and help.
Health and safety
Health and safety precautions at a live performance are incredibly important, start by making sure there is a person in charge of first aid as this is also the law; people are likely to get hurt in a crowd of people by tripping up or bumping into people. Secondly, when sorting and setting up electrical equipment you need to make sure wires are not across the stage in the air as this could cause a trip hazard for performers and also make sure there are
no trip hazards in the crowd standing space also. Another precaution to take is making sure staging is secured properly; if heavy staging equipment is not put together correctly accidents could happen causing big injuries which could mean you not being able to host events again. A final thing to take into consideration is noise level, when hosting a live event you are granted a license with rules of decibel level and if you exceed this level you would not be granted another license so another live performance would not be possible. I believe taking all of these health and safety precautions is fundamental to looking after everyone at a venue and will mean things can run smoothly without any inconvenience.
9 Tour and event management
An event manger means you will be in charge of a number of jobs, firstly you’ll need to find your venue that is suitable to your event; and then you need to book your acts. After you have sorted this you need to check health and safety is okay and then make sure the night runs smoothly. An event manager is an important role in making sure a live performance goes to plan, the audience may not notice the hard work of an event manager but if it wasn’t for them there would be no show. A tour manager is slightly different; they are in charge of booking venues as well as hotels and what crews are in charge of health and safety, security etc. I believe that tour and event management plays a huge part to live performance and makes things tick, without tour and event managers everything would be unorganised and would not go smoothly.
Front of house and Backstage
Starting with front of house, this includes a wide range of jobs such as door staff; these can be security or people that accept tickets. People at food stalls or bars are also included, these people are important as they can keep the audience refreshed with drinks and food. Front of house staff can be important as they are what the audience see so they need to be calm and relaxed so things run according to plan and not to distress anyone at the venue. Backstage staff covers a few more roles, they include the sound engineer who controls the levels and quality of the band’s sound to put on a good sounding performance for the crowd, secondly there are instrument technicians for drums, bass, guitar so if any instruments fail in any way they are there to fix it or provide a new instrument e.g. backup guitar/bass.
Other roles include a lighting technician to give the performance visual effect and also a pyro-technician who is in charge of any fireworks or fire during the performance. Backstage managers will make sure acts are ready to go on stage at the correct time; roadies are in charge of moving and packing equipment away for the end of the set or for the next act. Backstage staffs are just as important as the acts themselves, this job needs to be done effectively and communication is key otherwise things could fall apart very quickly.
When hosting a live performance you need to make sure you are licensed to play music, you must have the correct copyright licenses, having these is a legal requirement. PRS collects royalties for songwriters, publishers and composers and PPL collects royalties for performers and musicians. You also need public liability insurance, and if any DJ’s are performing they will need a ProDub licence; this is needed for when a DJ is transferring music from a vinyl, CD etc. to a digital format. If they do not have this license you may face fines or legal prosecution.
Business and Tour managers
Business managers are in charge of all the money to do with the artist, they are usually accountants that have experience with musicians, day to day managers can also take care of finances but they usually have a lot more things to do so it is helpful to have a business manager for this. A tour manager takes care of booking venues, hotels, flights and things like selecting a tour bus etc. Tour managers are important because they get the artist/band from one place to another and make sure things run smoothly, a good tour manager needs to be organised so the band makes it on time to gigs, interviews and recordings. Having managers can be very helpful to an artist; however they will need to be paid so it’s important to decide what mangers you definitely need.
10 Artist and managers rights
In the music industry artist and managers rights must be abided by, otherwise you could be brought to court; artist rights include being paid their royalties due to copyright, these are usually songs played on the radio/television etc. Manager’s rights are slightly different they include being paid fairly and that all contract terms are kept to, if they aren’t it means the manager can terminate the contract at any time. I believe it is very important managers and artists rights are abided by because you may end up in court if contract terms are breached.
Sponsorship does not always mean getting free stuff from the company that is sponsoring you, it means when two businesses come together to benefit from the association of one another. Sponsorship deals can be gained by the artist’s manager, it can mean money is offered to an artist and in the return the artist will wear, promote the brand. This is a very good way for an artist to earn income; it also makes artists/bands noticed. Endorsement is slightly different as it means artists can use the companies gear, this is good as it opens the company to a lot of fans and allows the artist to use top of the range equipment. I think sponsorship deals are good as they benefit both parties and can allow a lot of income to the artist and company.
Merchandise can include clothing, CD’s and stickers. The merchandise should include a creative logo that goes with the name of the band, stickers are useful as they can be stuck anywhere and promote your band. Merchandise can be sold after shows and also online which is useful if people cannot get to them at a show, selling merchandise is a great way to make money as people will pay high prices to own a t shirt with their favourite bands name and logo on it. It’s also a good promotion technique, if people are walking the streets with your band name on their t shirt soon your bands name will become familiar to people and they will tempted to listen to your music.
However, you need to make sure your designs are effective and not offensive because bad merchandise may put people off of your music. Merchandising is a very popular and important way of earning money and getting your band noticed, I believe it is a very good way to help an artist/band’s success. In this essay I have talked about and explained the four areas of the music industry, I have gained knowledge which will benefit my career as a musician, with this knowledge I now have an understanding about various careers in the music industry also.