The music industry comprises artists and companies that create and sell songs, concerts, recordings, compositions, and lyrics. But it also consists of technicians, front of house (FOH) engineers, and the people who manage the artists and bands. The modern music era began in between the 1930s and 1950s when records replaced sheet music.

An Overview of the Music Industry

Audio equipment - Mixing panel. Digital music changed the way revenue was generated in the music industry

Image: CC by A 2.5, by Lpmusix, via Wikimedia Commons

The invention of the internet and digital media has changed the music industry forever. CD’s, vinyl, and cassettes soon became obsolete when artists began releasing music digitally. Not surprisingly, this led to a decline in the worldwide revenue generated from CDs and other physical music formats. The revenue generated fell from $36.9 billion in 2000 to an all-time low of $15.9 billion. Turntables and CD players soon became obsolete, replaced completely by downloadable digital music.

Companies started releasing music through streaming services and began charging customers nominally for downloading music. This trend gave rise to services like Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora. However, the revenue generated from these sources was fairly low compared to that generated during the 2000s. The music was easily downloadable for free from multiple sources on the internet, causing the decline in revenue.

According to recently released data, the music business has been experiencing a steady decline in revenue since 2012. A recently published report on global music business by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry highlights the key changes in the revenue generated. According to the report, the revenue generated from downloads and physical selling of music has decreased considerably. However, trends suggest a comprehensive growth in streaming services.

The internet has also opened up the gates for hopeful musicians to showcase their talents through platforms like YouTube. More significantly, YouTube is also a source of income for huge organizations who use the platform for marketing as well as earning.

Major Record Labels in the Music Business

The band Coldplay performs onstage. Major record label organise concerts and world tours for bands and artists

Image: CC by SA-4.0, by Frank Schwichtenberg, via Wikimedia Commons

A record label or recording company is an organization that trademarks and produces music in association with artists. They market, publish, manufacture, and distribute the music created in collaboration with the artist based on a contract signed by both the parties. Chiefly, it’s the duty of the recording labels to assist artists by providing them with publicists. These publicists help their music gain positive media coverage and make it accessible across streaming services and other forms of media.

Major record label vs independent record label

A major record label is a company that develops music in collaboration with an artist. These large companies work on a global scale and may own smaller labels that produce under their corporate umbrella.

On the other hand, independent or “indie” music labels are small organizations. Generally, they specialize in a particular music genre. These companies do not work under the major labels and function independently. Most importantly, independent labels often provide musicians and artists with their first break and give them the platform to become popular.

The Top 3 Major Record Labels

4Play by Major Record Label
  • 4Play by Major Record Label

Here is a list of some of the top major record labels currently active in the music business. Unlike independent labels, they tend to represent a wide range of music genres. Some have expanded into other fields of entertainment, while others were developed from companies in audio equipment and movies.

Sony Music Entertainment

Music artists, Camila & Haniel. Sony Music is the largest major record label in the world

Image: CC by ASA-2.0, by Camila & Haniel, via Wikimedia Commons

Sony Music Entertainment, also popularly known as Sony Music, is the largest major record label in the world. As of 2017, it was reported that Sony generated a profit of $350 million in operations along with a total revenue of $1.9 billion. Apparently, the boost in revenue was a result of collaboration with top artists like Pink, Camila Cabello, and Justin Timberlake.

Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group building: UMG is the second largest major record label in the world

Image: CC by ASA-3.0, by De-okin, via Wikimedia Commons

Universal Music Group, also known as UMG Recordings, is the second largest major record label after Sony. UMG Recordings registered a 10 percent profit, taking its total revenue to $6.8 billion in 2017. The company collaborated with world-famous artists like Taylor Swift, Grammy-winner Kendrick Lamar, and Drake. Also, the company produced the record-breaking song “Despacito” in association with Luis Fonso and Daddy Yankee. In 2017, the company claimed a staggering net worth of $22 billion dollars.

Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group is an American multinational company based out of New York. Like the other two companies, Warner Music Group also posted figures that rocketed based on digital revenue and record sales. The company’s total revenue grew 13.1 percent in 2017 and generated a profit of $143 million. Most significantly, a 33 percent in digital revenue was the major contributor to this increase in profit.

Famous Artists in the Music Industry

The music industry is nothing without good music artists who actually run the show. Here is a list of the popular artists on the Billboard list:

Ed Sheeran

The English songwriter-singer arrived at the scene in September 2011 with his album Plus. The album went on to top the U.K. and Australian charts and straightaway led Ed Sheeran to the path of fame and fortune. The 27-year-old did not look back and earned a very impressive $37 million in 2017. His net worth is estimated to be around $68 million dollars.

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar started his musical journey as a teenager and released albums under independent labels till 2003. However, the 30-year-old experienced ground-breaking success in 2007 with the release of his album DAMN. Lamar won seven Grammy’s for the album and became the talk of the town in an instant. Lamar is currently valued at $18 million but that figure is sure to rise.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars is an American singer-songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist and started his career in music in 2003. The 32-year-old has 10 grammy’s to his name, with the recent ones coming for his songs “That’s What I Like” and the album 24K Magic”. Bruno Mars is currently valued at a whopping $110 million.

These are some of the most famous artists of the current era. The past, present, and future of the music industry has always been bright with upcoming good music artists who continue to impress the world with their talent.

Jobs in the Music Industry

How to Get a Job in the Music Industry
  • Keith Hatschek, Breanne Beseda
  • Berklee Press
  • Kindle Edition

The music industry hires millions of people around the world. And there is a range of opportunities when it comes to jobs in the music industry. The primary and the most sought-after job is being the artist and having the world fall in love with your music.

But not every job is quite that glamorous. If you’re passionate about music and looking to work in the industry here are a few options for you in support, technology, and management. You can click the link provided in each section to find more about these career paths.

Audio engineer

Front of house engineer - a perfect job in the music industry

Image CC0, via Air Force Bands

If you like blending music and mixing vocals with the sounds of instruments, then this is the job for you. As an audio engineer, you can either work from the studio or take up the role of a FOH engineer. In either case, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the sounds instruments produce along with some hands-on experience in operating audio gear. You can earn between $25,000 to $150,000 for your role as an audio engineer.

Record producer

Record producer is one of the jobs in the music industry for the most experienced personnel. The producers are expected to groom budding talents in music and help them record their first hit. More importantly, music or record producers are also present during recording sessions and oversee that the song or album produced matches industry standards. You can expect a salary in the range of $25,000 to $1,000,000+ based on your experience and popularity.

Personal manager

If you believe that managing artists and their schedule is what you are meant to do, then look no further. As the manager of the artist or band, you’re entitled to 10 to 20 percent of his gross income. The manager markets the artist, handles media relations, ropes in sponsors, find venues and touring or recording opportunities — and most of all — helps the artists in making major career decisions.

Tour manager

Every major artist in the industry at some point in their career is bound to tour, whether locally, nationally, or even internationally. This is where the tour manager comes in. As the tour manager, you’ll be expected to organize transportation, book venues, schedule shows, and oversee the financial matters. The tour manager can expect payments in anywhere in the range of $25,000 to $125,000 per tour.

Stage manager

A concert stage in action. The stage manager makes sure everything goes smoothly during the concert.

Image CC0, by Ruel Madelo, via Pexels

The venue and stage space play a crucial role in a live concert. The stage manager is responsible for setting up the stage before the concert and handling the lighting and the equipment setup while keeping the audiences in mind. If you are passionate about music and art, this is the perfect role for you. You could earn $25,000 to $75,000 per show for your efforts.

Music journalism

You can opt to become a music journalist in the music industry

Image CC0, by SnapStock, via Pixabay

People who love music and have a way with words — this is the job you are looking for. Your job is to review music, attend concerts, and write about it. Best of all, you get the creative license to point out the flaws in the music while getting paid for it. Many music journalists get to interview artists and bands and go on to write biographies for famous performers. A music journalist can expect a salary in the range of $15,000 to $30,000+ per annum for their efforts.

Music Journalism 101: The definitive resource for new and established...
  • Leticia Supple
  • Publisher: Leticia Supple
  • Paperback: 122 pages

If you are good at managing people and artists, you can opt for a career as a publicist, concert manager, or a booking agent. Additionally, people looking to produce music can start as a radio DJ or a station music director. If you’re passionate about music, then these jobs in the music industry will let you take part in the world’s largest and most exciting creative field.

Featured Image: CC0, by vLADISLAV1989, via Pixabay

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