There is so much talk about the various facets of the industry available to bands, recording artists, and DJ’s. Focus is usually on all of the roadblocks to success that keep independent music off the radio and only promote music made by major label artists who hardly need the promotion.
These roadblocks are real, and they are tough to overcome. The only way to cut through the chatter (like all those expensive promotional deals offered by radio pluggers) and make a lasting impression is if you have four important roles in your team filled. We’re talking about an artist manager, booking agent, the music publisher, and record labels.
The artist manager works closely with the artist on all things creative and professional. They map out the next 1+ years for the artist and work to create as many opportunities as possible during that span. It is common for managers to get working with artists before any of the other roles are filled, but it really depends on the artist.
A booking agent is in charge of getting you shows. They negotiate with venue managers and promoters for all things relevant to the show: the fee for a performance, bonuses based on attendance, technical support, and even hospitality and logistics in some cases.
Agents work in a geographical region (usually split between North American, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia and New Zealand) and do their best to guarantee solid revenue from each performance you make. Getting the best deal is in the interest of the agent because they take a commission from each show – standard practice is between 10-15%. The bigger acts often have a head-agent in specific regions because terms and networks vary greatly across geographical territory.
A music publisher acts as the representative of an artist’s music. They hold the ownership of the master recordings that underlay the recorded music and do their best to maximize monetary gain from them. It could mean pushing songs for radio play, licensing portions of a song to be used in a TV show, film, or advertisement, and much more. Incentive comes from publishers taking a commission from every play they have earned. Sometimes this commission is as high as 50%. The great thing about a publisher is they will do all the research needed to follow up with every radio play your songs have had, and make sure you see proper revenue from it.
A record label is going to be key in launching your success on a broad scale. A label is far more than just a manufacturer of vinyl of course. Everything from marketing, distribution and branding come from the network made available to you by labels. They will put money up to cover music marketing expenses for your edm album, for example.
Independent labels have plenty of revenue channels at their disposal to help you, starting with the fact that they make a commission on every vinyl you sell.
It is unrealistic to get all these four positions locked down within a year. It takes successful artists many years to find the right team to help them make a living in the industry. So build it strategically and only put trust in people you know and respect.