A RECORD LABEL or RECORD COMPANY is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos . Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture , distribution , marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos; also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists ("artists and repertoire" or "A and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information.
* 1 Music industry * 2 Major versus independent record labels * 3 Imprint * 4 Independent * 5 Sublabel * 6 Vanity labels * 7 Relationship with artists * 8 New label strategies
* 9 History
* 9.1 Industry consolidation * 9.2 Resurgence of independent labels * 9.3 Internet and digital labels * 9.4 Open-source labels * 9.5 Publishers as labels
* 10 Major labels * 11 See also * 12 References * 13 External links
Within the mainstream music industry , recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels provide publicists , who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.
But an increasing number of artists have sought to avoid costs and gain new audiences via the Internet, often with the help of videos . Combined with the decline in album sales and rapid growth in free content available online, this has changed the way the industry works dramatically since the beginning of the 21st century. It has caused record labels to seek new sources of profit, in particular via "360" deals (see below, under "new label strategies").
MAJOR VERSUS INDEPENDENT RECORD LABELS
Record labels may be small, localized and "independent " ("indie"),
or they may be part of a large international media group , or
somewhere in between. As of 2012, there are only three labels that can
be referred to as "major labels" (
Universal Music Group
When a label is strictly a trademark or brand, not a company, then it is usually called an "imprint ", a term used for the same concept in publishing . An imprint is sometimes marketed as being a "project", "unit", or "division" of a record label company, even though there is no legal business structure associated with the imprint.
Main article: Independent record label
Record companies and music publishers that are not under the control of the big three are generally considered to be independent (indie ), even if they are large corporations with complex structures. The term indie label is sometimes used to refer to only those independent labels that adhere to independent criteria of corporate structure and size, and some consider an indie label to be almost any label that releases non-mainstream music, regardless of its corporate structure.
Independent labels are often considered more artist-friendly. Though they may have less financial clout, indie labels typically offer larger artist royalty with 50% profit-share agreement, aka 50-50 deal, not uncommon.
Music collectors often use the term sublabel to refer to either an
imprint or a subordinate label company (such as those within a group).
For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, "4th & B'way" was a trademarked
brand owned by
Island Records Ltd. in the UK and by a subordinate
branch, Island Records, Inc., in the United States. The center label
on a 4th & Broadway record marketed in the
RELATIONSHIP WITH ARTISTS
A label typically enters into an exclusive recording contract with an
artist to market the artist's recordings in return for royalties on
the selling price of the recordings. Contracts may extend over short
or long durations, and may or may not refer to specific recordings.
Established, successful artists tend to be able to renegotiate their
contracts to get terms more favorable to them, but Prince 's
much-publicized 1994–1996 feud with
A contract either provides for the artist to deliver completed recordings to the label, or for the label to undertake the recording with the artist. For artists without a recording history, the label is often involved in selecting producers, recording studios , additional musicians, and songs to be recorded, and may supervise the output of recording sessions. For established artists, a label is usually less involved in the recording process.
The relationship between record labels and artists can be a difficult one. Many artists have had albums altered or censored in some way by the labels before they are released—songs being edited, artwork or titles being changed, etc. Record labels generally do this because they believe that the album will sell better if the changes are made. Often the record label's decisions are prudent ones from a commercial perspective, but this typically frustrates the artists who feels that their art is being diminished or misrepresented by such actions.
In the early days of the recording industry, recording labels were absolutely necessary for the success of any artist. The first goal of any new artist or band was to get signed to a contract as soon as possible. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, many artists were so desperate to sign a contract with a record company that they sometimes ended up signing agreements in which they sold the rights to their recordings to the record label in perpetuity. Entertainment lawyers are usually employed by artists to discuss contract terms.
Through the advances of the Internet the role of labels is becoming
increasingly changed, as artists are able to freely distribute their
own material through web radio, peer to peer file sharing such as
BitTorrent , and other services, for little or no cost but with little
financial return. Established artists, such as Nine Inch Nails, whose
career was developed with major label backing, announced an end to
their major label contracts, citing that the uncooperative nature of
the recording industry with these new trends are hurting musicians,
fans and the industry as a whole.
Nine Inch Nails
NEW LABEL STRATEGIES
With the advancement of the computer and technology such as the
Internet, leading to an increase in file sharing and direct-to-fan
digital distribution, combined with music sales plummeting in recent
years, labels and organizations have had to change their strategies
and the way they work with artists. New types of deals are being made
with artists called "multiple rights" or "360" deals with artists.
These types of pacts give labels rights and percentages to artist's
touring, merchandising, and endorsements . In exchange for these
rights, labels usually give higher advance payments to artists, have
more patience with artist development, and pay higher percentages of
CD sales. These 360 deals are most effective when the artist is
established and has a loyal fan base. For that reason, labels now have
to be more relaxed with the development of artists because longevity
is the key to these types of pacts. Several artists such as
A look at an actual 360 deal offered by
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a phase of consolidation in the record industry that led to almost all major labels being owned by a very few multinational companies. CDs still flow through a handful of sources, with the majority of the sales going through the "big three" record labels.
RESURGENCE OF INDEPENDENT LABELS
In the 1990s, as a result of the widespread use of home studios, consumer recording technology, and the Internet, independent labels began to become more commonplace. Independent labels are often artist-owned (although not always), with a stated intent often being to control the quality of the artist's output. Independent labels usually do not enjoy the resources available to the "big three" and as such will often lag behind them in market shares. Often independent artists manage a return by recording for a much smaller production cost of a typical big label release. Sometimes they are able to recoup their initial advance even with much lower sales numbers.
On occasion, established artists, once their record contract has
finished, move to an independent label. This often gives the combined
advantage of name recognition and more control over one's music along
with a larger portion of royalty profits. Artists such as Dolly Parton
Aimee Mann , Prince , Public Enemy , BKBravo (Kua and Rafi), among
others, have done this. Historically, companies started in this manner
have been re-absorbed into the major labels (two examples are American
Record labels are often under the control of a corporate umbrella organization called a "music group ". A music group is typically owned by an international conglomerate "holding company ", which often has non-music divisions as well. A music group controls and consists of music publishing companies, record (sound recording) manufacturers, record distributors, and record labels. Record companies (manufacturers, distributors, and labels) may also constitute a "record group" which is, in turn, controlled by a music group. The constituent companies in a music group or record group are sometimes marketed as being "divisions" of the group.
From 1988 to 1999, there were six major record labels, known as the Big Six:
In 2004, Sony and BMG agreed to a joint venture to create the Sony
BMG label (which would be renamed
Sony Music Entertainment
In 2012, the major divisions of
* ^ Klein, Allison. "How Record Labels Work". HowStuffWorks.com.
Retrieved 29 April 2016.
* ^ "The big 3 major music labels". Slideshare.net. 28 January
2015. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
* ^ "Top Five Lessons Learned from Indie Record Labels".
Musicians.about.com. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
* ^ Newman, Melinda. "Inside Prince\'s Career-Long Battle to Master
His Artistic Destiny". Billboard. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
* ^ "CNN Transcript –
* ^ "Nine inch nails = independent". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 29
* ^ "
Trent Reznor on Nine Inch Nails\' Columbia Signing: \'I\'m Not
a Major Label Apologist\'". Spin.com. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 29
* ^ "
* ^ Butler, Susan (31 March 2007), "
Publisher = Label? – Sony/ATV
Music releases; Elliott Yamin's record", Billboard
* ^ "
* t * e
Companies and organizations
* ARIA * BVMI * BPI * Music Canada * FIMI * IFPI (worldwide) * PROMUSICAE * RIAA * SNEP
BMG Rights Management
* Sound engineer
* Music award * Best-selling music artists * Best-selling albums * Best-selling albums by country * Best-selling singles * Highest-grossing concert tours * Highest-attended concerts * Global Recording Artist of the Year