Music Industry / For Artists Music Licensing & Copyright

You will most likely have heard about record labels and record deals, but what exactly are they? How do you secure a record deal, and what does it mean to have one? Record labels play an important part in the music industry. However, in recent times, independent artists have access to the resources necessary to work without label backing. So, what are the benefits of getting signed to a label? Allow us to talk you through different types of record labels, deals and tips for getting signed!

record labels what is a record label how do record deals work

What Are Record Labels?

Sometime simply known as ‘labels’, record labels are a brand of trademark of music recordings and videos, or the company that owns them. Some record labels are also publishing companies that co-ordinate production, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, promotion, copyright and A&R. A&R scouts are responsible for finding new artists to sign. Artists and managers sign contracts with record labels in order to release, distribute and promote their music.

What Are The Pros Of Being Signed To A Record Label?

Record labels provide the following benefits:

  • Financial backing
  • Greater exposure and reach
  • Paying for top quality producers, sound engineers and studios
  • Support with administration and legalities of partnerships and rights-based music
  • Tracking and distributing royalties to the artist
  • Distributing the artist’s music (CD’s, streaming, music videos etc)

This means that record labels provide artists with support, direction and financial backing. Often, labels are invested in an artist’s growth and can help them to reach their full potential. With the reach that they have, artists can reach audiences worldwide and secure opportunities that would otherwise not be available to them.

Record Labels: Contracts

Record Deals

These contracts have various different names that you may have heard, such as record deals, label deals, recording contracts and so on. Such contracts are a legally binding agreement between the artist and label. Under this contract, the label pays for creating, distributing and marketing the music. The label invests in your music and development as an artist, and you repay them a set amount from your earnings.

The label will also pay you a set share of the royalties received from record sales. Don’t forget to always check with a lawyer or accountant to have them look over the deal before signing!

Licensing Deals

music licensing deals record labels

If you are the composer or songwriter, you have licensing rights. This means that every time your song is played or performed publicly, you are entitled to royalties. When a record label licenses your music, they are essentially purchasing the rights from you in order to manufacture, promote and distribute that album or song. They will pay you a set fee and act as your label for that album in the area that they licensed the album in.

Distribution Deals

There are also deals known as manufacturing and distribution deals. These are a contractual agreement between a record label and a music distributor. Under this deal, the distributor pays the manufacturing costs for an album (from the pressing process to label printing and so on). The distributor them recoups these costs from record sales in addition to a pre-agreed percentage of the profit. These types of deals are becoming less common with access to online distributors being opened up in the industry.

Different Types Of Record Labels

what different types of record labels

There are three main types of record labels: major labels, major label subsidiaries, and independent labels.

Major: These are the ‘big three’ labels, which are Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music. Major record labels are large, conglomerate corporations, or are part of one. These labels typically have a lot of individual departments such as publicity, sales and marketing.

Major Subsidiaries: These are owned by major labels, for example Sony Music owns both RED Music and The Orchard. RED Music is a label services company that offers promotion and licensing services, and The Orchard is a music distribution platform. Neither company is specifically branded as a Sony company, and both do business with independent companies and musicians.

Indie: Indie labels are simply those not affiliated with the majors. These labels often offer 360 services, meaning they can help with distribution, marketing, copyright and so on. Indie labels are smaller, with artists retaining more control over their music and output.

How To Get Signed By A Record Label

Getting signed by a label is a real goal for a lot of artists. Some prefer to stay independent and retain more control, and others prefer the support and backing of a label. Getting signed is notoriously difficult, so here are some top tips to put you in the best position possible:

  • Know The Label – Research who you are sending your music to. Large labels receive hundreds of submissions daily, so you need to understand what type of artist they are looking for. Your music should be compatible with their roster, otherwise you’re wasting both yours and their time!
  • Solidify Your Branding – You should have a clear idea of your brand and have quality photos, artwork and a good social media presence. Ensure that your artist profiles are up to date and include a bio, social links, contact info and artist image.
  • Network – You never know who you could meet and how they could help! Gig as regularly as possible, and be open to networking and connecting with others in the industry. A&R scouts could be anywhere and looking for somebody exactly like you – so make sure that they find you!
  • Show Your Dedication – Labels love to see self-sufficient, hardworking artists who have built a buzz on their own. They need to know that their investment in you will be returned, so you’ll need to get somewhere on your own first.


audiosocket music licensing companies how to get a music licensing deal

We may not be a label, but Audiosocket is a music licensing company that is always looking for new talent. You can submit your music here for consideration. We offer a non-exclusive contract, meaning that you can maximize your potential by licensing your music to other companies or projects, also. We commission 50% of the gross licensing fees and publishing royalties, but you keep 100% of the writer’s share.

Audiosocket have secured placements with giants such as HBO, Amazon, Hulu, Disney, HP and many more. We would love to hear your music, so what are you waiting for?

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