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Must-Know Personalities in the Music Industry

Even as countless fans around the globe live and breathe the magic created from all genres of music from different artists, scenes that occur in the background are of little or no concern to them. As long as good music is produced, every other thing can take a long look at a brown speck of dust.

But as a recording artist, the knowledge of the key players in the music industry cannot be overstated. These personalities have the power to influence your growth.

In most cases, several players work hand-in-hand to provide an enabling system for you to thrive while mitigating the challenges that may rear their ugly heads in the course of your journey.

So, let’s dive in…

Here are the key players in the music industry you must know:

Artist Manager

Have you ever been on a boat in the middle of the sea? Alone without paddles to row to shore? An artist without the help of a manager to navigate the deep waters industry will eventually kiss the relics of the sea.

However, your manager helps your career by negotiating complex contracts, promote your brand via strategic publicity, and leverage opportunities to nurture your creativity.

To add to this, he or she ensures you have a solid image in the industry through targeted marketing campaigns and advertisements. Having read through, you would agree it is suicidal to navigate the music industry without a manager in your corner.

Business Manager

When the big bucks start rolling in, there is always the temptation to spend extravagantly. Everything we ever dreamed of having become possible. Of course, money can redefine your immediate realities.

But spending without laying a solid financial plan can be detrimental to the progress of your career. After all, the music career of an artist eventually comes to a glorious end.

This is where a business manager is needed. He or she is solely concerned about your monetary success. Skilled in developing a financial plan to maximize your earning potentials, this personality gives you the liberty to invest your efforts in making good music.

Music Lawyer

If you still doubt the legal complexities surrounding the music industry, then you are in for a big surprise. As an artist, the ever-expanding terrain of the music industry means you move clothed with the full arm of the law.

Music attorneys are not to be taken lightly in this business. Why? Because they know the nitty-gritty of the music industry as well as the people involved in it.

They are at the forefront of sniffing out legal traps or discrepancies that may be hidden in any contracts or deals you sign with record labels. You could as well refer to them as your “Guardian Music Angels.”

Their business experience gives you an advantage when handling issues such as copyright claims, trademark disputes, and setting up a legal framework for your brand.

You may choose to ignore this key personality, but ignorance in the music business is not an excuse as far as the law is concerned.

Music Producer

Like a restaurant chef, the music producer combines all the ingredients in your arsenal to make a meal your audience finds edible. The producer understands the technicalities of music and cooks your lyrics into sounds pleasing to the ears of your audience.

For every hit song ever recorded by any artist, a music producer worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen. The producer understands what your audience wants, and he is endowed with the creative acumen to channel your talent to meet their needs.

Artists who jump-start their careers without a producer soon find out how competitive the music industry is in terms of music quality produced. Great lyrics alone isn’t all there is to making a hit song. You should keep that at the back of your mind.

A&R (Artist and Repertoire)

You may be familiar with this personality, but most people tend to confuse an A&R with an artist manager. This, in no way, downplays the importance of this personality in your music career. However, the position of an artist manager in your career stays uncontested.

The A&R is responsible for scouting talents and developing them into recording artists. Although other key players may weigh in on which artist fits the bill, the A&R serves as an intermediary between the artist and the record label.

One interesting, yet vital role of the A&R serving as a point of contact between you and the label. If you have issues in the process of negotiating a contract deal, the A&R ensures your concerns are duly addressed. After signing a contract with the label, the A&R stays abreast of developments within the label related to doing what you do best- making music.

Music Publisher

When an airplane takes off at the terminal, flight operators at the tower monitor the airborne movements of the plane till it arrives at the destination. This is similar to what a music publisher does with your music as a recording artist.

The essential duties of a music publisher, as the name implies, is to publish your music, collect royalties and track the reach of your songs and how often it is played or streamed on various digital streaming platforms.

Music Distributor

As you may already know, the hit songs produced in the last three decades or more didn’t receive award nominations by caressing the four walls of a music studio. The public had to listen through various musical channels. And someone had to do this job- The Music Distributor.

With the use of strategized contracts and payment structures, the distributor grants online music platforms, digital stores, and record stores the right to purchase and resell your music. The music distributor seeks to get you the best sales percentage in the sale of your digital product, wherever.

Record Label

Record labels are music companies involved in the marketing of digital products from artists. Although a record label encompasses several functions, marketing of digital products including recorded music and videos ranks pretty high on that list.

They have systems to generate public awareness, promote brands, publish music and enforce copyrights. The end game of a record label is to generate revenue for the artists associated with the company and also keep the wheels spinning.

Besides the marketing aspect of the music business, record labels are actively involved in scouting and recruiting new talents through the A&R as discussed above.

So why do you need a record label? As a recording artist, here are some benefits a record label affords you:

  • Promotional strategies, marketing plans, and music branding targeted at your audience.
  • The financial muscle to promote your music and make videos
  • Greater access to promotional outlets – both digital and physical.
  • Better exposure to the music community.

Digital Streaming Platforms (DSPs)

Don’t get carried away with the big words. Truth is, you have probably used these platforms more times than you can count. Nevertheless, we would do intelligently do justice to what it entails.

Before the Industrial revolution, the music industry was restricted to transacting business via physical outlets such as music stores. With little or no online presence, music retailers were key players in the revenue-generating and marketing structure of the industry.

However, with the advent of technology came the age of digital disruption. This led to the demise of music shops and gave rise to online streaming platforms.

Since the launch of iTunes in 2002, the on-demand music streaming market changed not only for record stores and retailers but also redefined the business model for artists, producers, and record labels. In several ways, it has influenced how the audience consumes music.

Digital Streaming platforms help you reach a larger audience, reduce the rate of pirated music, easily distribute your recorded music, and generate revenue.

So, how do these DSPs work?

The role of a music distributor covers this aspect. Your recorded music is uploaded on platforms such as iTunes or Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Napster, Amazon Music, Audiomack, or Sound Cloud, to mention a few. The DSPs give you an edge in getting your music heard across many nations of the world.

Sync Agencies

Sync agencies not only represent your music but also help the artist secure a synchronization license. What then is a synchronization license? Let’s break it down.

This license simply grants you the right to use your music in a visual form such as a movie, video game, advert, or other commercial purposes. If you are an independent artist, a sync license can serve as a major source of revenue.

In some cases, it also helps to grow your audience when people listen to your music via ads, movies, or TV commercials. To put the cherry on the cake, sync licensing can help you generate passive income.

Music Supervisors

Although relatively new to the Industry, music supervisors are the unsung heroes in many instances. As the person in charge of the music department on a movie production or brand commercial, the directors rely heavily on their expertise and knowledge. They are responsible for selecting and licensing music for video production.

When a piece of music is selected by the supervisor, the sync agency grants the license that permits the use of one or more songs from the recording artist. You generate passive income in the music industry through this means. Who wouldn’t want such a stream of income as a recording artist? I know I would.


The music industry features several key players that work hand-in-hand to ensure that you enjoy a successful career. As an artist without prior knowledge of these personalities, this in-depth insight into the roles and responsibilities should give you an edge in making decisions regarding your music career.

If you are quite aware of these key personalities, having a refresher course doesn’t hurt your knowledge bank. It reminds you of what truly matters as you tread the murky waters of the music industry.

Without a doubt, the music industry could be pretty tough and complex. But having access to information such as this, helps you make informed decisions as you progress as a recording artist.

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