Music production is a diverse industry that has a lot of counterparts that are usually misunderstood due to the fact that they work closely together.
Two of these counterparts are Music Producers and Record labels. One of the questions that I encounter the most is ;
“Is a producer the same as a record label?“.
This post will therefore distinguish between the two so you as my readers have a better understanding.
So without further ado, is a producer the same as a record label?
Music producers and record labels are two different things. A Music producer is a person that oversees and is responsible for the process of music production while record labels are companies that are the brands or trademarks of musical recordings and music videos.
Music producers are usually one person while record labels operate more like organisations and companies.
To understand this distinction properly let’s look into the roles of both music producers and record labels.
Essentially, the music producer is the one that oversees all aspects of the creation of a song or album with musical artists.
Some of these can include the choice of song, choice of musicians, instruments, vocalist(s), how instruments are played and those notes are performed as well as where the song or album is recorded and how the actual recording is done.
To producer music is no easy task and is as involving as the name suggests.
Think of the film director that is responsible for directing your favourite movie. The director has to basically make various decisions that can be able to properly interpret the vision they have for the film.
This vision has to be properly conveyed to everyone that is working on the film. This has to be done in an appropriate that allows everyone to perform to the best of their ability.
The music producer has to be able to focus on what’s going on in real-time as each track is laid down, as well as plan in advance by booking and setting up the necessary studio time and session instrument players or vocal musicians for the additional recording sessions as needed.
This requires great communication skills as well as an excellent understanding of logistics and budgets.
Furthermore, the record producer also has to yield great ability to understand music to its fullest extent and all the technical stuff involved and required to get get optimal results.
Unlike music producers that are usually one person, Record labels are companies or organisations of varying size who’s function is to manufacture, distribute, and promote the recordings of affiliated musicians.
Primarily, record labels basically work to sell the brand of the artist and the various products they create which are usually in the form of music whether singles or albums.
There are various departments within record labels that coordinate to the best of their ability in order to create and sell their products as well as artist’s.
The three main types of record labels are: major labels, major label subsidiaries, and independent labels.
Today, the record companies considered to be major labels are usually referred to as the “big three.”
A few years ago, the big three possessed nearly 70% of the world market share of recorded music and these labels are names that you’ve sure come across.
The market share of each label is:
Universal Music Group (28.9%), Sony Music Entertainment (22.4%), and Warner Music Group (28.9%).
Warner Music Group has three main record labels which are Atlantic, Warner Bros., and Parlophone.
Under each of these main groups, there are several other smaller record labels. Alongside that, Warner Bros has international labels, distribution alliances, and multiple smaller record label groups.
Universal Music Group’s main labels are Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Capitol Music Group,
Republic Records, Island Records, Def Jam Records, Caroline Records, The Verve Label Group, and various smaller groups and international labels. Again, each of the main label groups have authority over a number of labels.
There are a variety of different recording contracts that exist which record labels offer various artists.
The most important thing to understand here is that labels sign artists in order to promote them so they make money to be split between record company and artist(s). This is the overall business model that most record companies work under.
When artists sign to a record label, they agree that the record label will take a portion of the royalties the recording generates. In exchange, artists will usually be provided with a vast network of professional industry connections, specialized marketing campaigns, and a variety of other services plus an advance and royalties after that paid after the label recoups its investment.
Contracts between labels and artists often includes various terms to which both parties agree to; such as; the type of deal that is being made, any limitations, the term or duration of the deal, the amount of money exchanging hands and when/how it will be paid back, and any obligations that the artist or label must meet before the deal ends.
Record labels are frowned upon because they often lead to artist giving up rights to their sound recordings and some of their future profit in order to gain professional services that can help them advance their career.
However, the goal of the record label is to increase the profitability of an artist regardless of how much they are taking out and this is their mode of operation.
Therefore a Music producer is a person that is responsible for overseeing the production of music while a record label is a company that manufactures, distributes, and promotes the recordings of affiliated musicians.