Record Labels : Everything you Need to Know

Record Label is actually the other name for Record Company. The word ‘ Label ‘ is symbolic of the circular label which used to remain attached with the vintage vinyl records at its center. If you’ve ever come across a vinyl record, you must have seen that the circular label at its center comprises of the manufacturer’s name and other information. Well, Record Label or Record Companies have a very similar role. They are companies that manage the trademark for your Music. Truthfully this is an old definition of Record  Labels.

Record Labels

New Definition of Record Label

These days Record Labels serve almost everything to a Musician. Gone are the days when Record Label only meant trademark and copyright associated with the Music. Modern-day Record Companies not just helps you with Trademarking of your song or music but also coordinates with production, helps in the promotion and M

of your Music as well as Manufacturing and Distribution too.

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What is A&R? Full-Form. How is it different from Record Label?

Hopefully, the definition of Record Label is now clear to you after reading the previous section. A&R or the full form of A&R which many people speculate about is Artists and Repertoire. Many Musicians joke that A&R stands for Attitude and Rejection, but well that’s not the correct full form. These firms sometime become a sub-section or sub-department under modern-day Record Companies or Record Labels. While working Independently, their major concern is Talent Scouting and development of New Artists. They also strive to maintain contracts with Recording Artists and their Managers.

Various Departments of Record Labels :-

ART DEPARTMENT:- Mostly the design work is done by this department. Art work which goes with CD cover, advertisement and displays at various offline stores.

ARTIST DEPARTMENT or PRODUCT DEPARTMENT:- Artist Department is now known as Product Department as more and more Record Labels have started realising that the Artist are the Product which they promote. The departments major task is to integrate and plan out the image, branding and efforts required to establish the artist in front of the public.

BUSINESS AFFAIRS :- Typical finance and accounts related issues are sorted by Business Affairs Department. Tasks like Bookkeeping, Payroll, Human Resource and General Finance is taken care by the Business Affairs Department.

LEGAL DEPARTMENT:- One of the most important department for a Record Label Company after the Publicity Department. The whole working of Record Labels are based on negotiations and legal contracts with the artists. The legal department helps to create a contract with the artist or musicians. Not only that, but in case of any legal lawsuit, the legal department is responsible to fight on behalf of the Record Label company.

MARKETING DEPARTMENT:- The overall marketing planning for the Sales, Promotional and Publicity Department is made by the Marketing Department. A complete plan for marketing is essential to keep track of activities and re-check at regular intervals if everything is still on track as per the marketing plan made by the Marketing Department.

NEW MEDIA:- Someone has to take care of emerging technologies and opportunities to sustain in today’s competitive market. The New Media department is rarely found in a record label company. But if found, they are responsible to look out for new technologies, forums, social media or any other promotional and marketing channels through which artists can promote their work and create a brand awareness about themselves as well as the record label companies.

PROMOTION DEPARTMENT :- The promotion department has similar work as the publicity department except one major difference. Promotional department used promotional content, i.e., music audio or music video of the track and ties up with Radio Stations and Televisions and makes them play the same to spread awareness among the fans and users of the Record Label service.

PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT:- The main work of this department is to spread the word about the releasing album. They write articles and publishes digital content across the various platform to ensure a buzz all around about the music.

SALES DEPARTMENT:- Majorly responsible to ensure that the finished product, i.e. music album reaches the shelves of major music stores. It works in coordination with the Promotion and Publicity team to deliver efficient results.

Types of Record Labels

MAJOR RECORD LABELS:- Very few Record Labels in the World are actually ‘ Major Record Labels ‘ in its True Sense. Undoubtedly, those record labels offer deals to the world’s most successful musicians and artists. Sony and Universal Music Group are 2 of them.

INDIE RECORD LABELS :- It’s fine to call them the poor record labels. Music Industry and specifically the business around Record Label in itself is the biggest capital investment business across all domains. Data says, Labels spend as much as 15.6% of their revenue on artist development – a higher percentage than what technology, software, aerospace, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries spend on R&D.

IMPRINT :- When a label is simply a trademark or license, without any proper company infrastructure, yet has an independent identity, it is called an Imprint. Normally you’ll see such labels as a department in major record label companies when not in independent existence.

SUBLABEL:- Imprints existing under a record label company can be called as a sub-label. It is partly independent yet inclusive under a major record label company. The primary purpose of sublabel is very similar to that of Imprint – Trademark, and Licensing.


VANITY LABELS:- Vanity label is an interesting concept in which the vanity label camouflages as a label under the artists’ ownership but behind the screen is nothing but a record label – artist partnership.

INTERNET AND DIGITAL LABELS:- Also known as NetLabels, which started as a free website, now offers some serious competition to offline record labels. As suggested by the name Netlabels majorly deals with downloadable music but recently it has also ventured into the market of physical CDs which can be ordered online using the Internet.

OPEN – SOURCE LABELS:- The wave of Open Source Software and Open Source Programming language is the idea behind Open Source Labels. As suggested by the name, Open Source labels are the record labels for the modern-day internet-savvy musicians

PUBLISHERS AS LABELS:- These are normal music publishing companies who ventured into the Record Labelling business expecting more profit. The work responsibilities of such labels are similar to that of any major or independent label in addition to their music publishing business.