The music industry is a complex system of many different organizations, firms and individuals and has undergone dramatic changes in the 21st century.
However, the majority of the participants in the music industry still fulfill their traditional roles, which are described below.
There are three types of property that are created and sold by the recording industry: compositions, recordings and media (such as CDs or MP3s). There may be many recordings of a single composition and a single recording will typically be distributed into many media.
Alexander M. Poniatoff
Recordings are created by recording artists, often with the assistance of record producers and audio engineers. They were traditionally made in recording studios (who are paid a daily or hourly rate) in a recording session. In the 21st century, advances in recording technology have allowed many producers and artists to create "home studios", bypassing the traditional role of the recording studio.
The record producer oversees all aspects of the recording, making many of the logistic, financial and artistic decisions in cooperation with the artist. Audio engineers (including recording, mixing and mastering engineers) are responsible for the audio quality of the recording. A recording session may also require the services of an arranger or studio musicians.
Recordings are (traditionally) owned by record companies. A recording contract specifies the business relationship between a recording artist and the record company. In a traditional contract, the company provides an advance to the artist who agrees to record music that will be owned by the company.
The A&R department of a record company is responsible for finding new talent and overseeing the recording process. The company pays for the recording costs and the cost of promoting and marketing the record. For physical media (such as CDs), the company also pays to manufacture and distribute the physical recordings.
Smaller record companies (known as "indies") will form business relationships with other companies to handle many of these tasks. If contractually bound to do so, the record company pays the recording artist a portion of the income from the sale of the recordings, generally known as a mechanical royalty. (This is distinct from the publishing royalty, described above.) This portion is similar to a percentage, but may be limited or expanded by a number of factors (such as free goods, recoupable expenses, bonuses, etc.) that are specified by the record contract.
Session musicians and orchestra members (as well as a few recording artists in special markets) are under contract to provide work for hire; they're typically only paid one-time fees or regular wages for their services, rather than royalties. Foundational text courtesy of Wikipedia.
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Pictures courtesy of Norma Beecroft.
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