How To Be A Successful Producer? Dissecting The Music Industry 2021


A Brief Overview By Catherine Schultz

What Is Music Industry?

The music industry is a complex business made up of five key elements: artists, managers, labels, radio stations, and consumers. On every level from the musician to the A&R; to the radio station programmer, each person has a specific role to play. Based on my experience in the music business, I would like to offer some insight from the inside as to how it all works.

The music industry is a blend of art and commerce. An artist may carry a wealth of talent inside of them, for example, but if that artist is unable to produce music that is commercially marketable, then they will not succeed in the business. As ironic as it may seem, artists are simultaneously the most and the least important factors related to the music business.

I asked Jason Davis, president of Fahrenheit Media Group, who manages both artists and writers and has been involved with hugely successful projects from Britney Spears to R. Kelly, to describe what he views as the fundamental role of a manager. “The role of the manager is manyfold but is primarily to protect the artist from being exploited and financially abused in the music business and to push to make sure the artist is promoted and doesn’t slip through the cracks as is the fate of many talented artists.”

How To Success In The Music Industry 2021

The Savvy Of Manager

The key to an artist’s success in the industry is the savvy of his manager. Traditionally, for an artist to be financially successful, he would need to land a recording contract. However, this is not so simple as it is an industry-standard that record labels never deal directly with the artists. Rather, they accept submissions mainly from management firms, attorneys, publishers, or other music industry insiders with whom they’ve developed close and often strategic relationships.

Once a record label is interested in signing an artist, the manager is there to aid in contract negotiations. Managers play an important role in the music industry since their income is based entirely on the success of the artist. It is in their best interest not only to ensure that the artist gets the best possible deal from the record label but also to make sure the artist is being promoted and made a priority by the A&R; once the record is released. A manager’s ability to bring success to an artist’s career is largely based on the quality of his relationships with his record label contacts. Therefore, it is also important that the negotiations with the label remain as friendly as possible. The lawyers are there to battle out the details in a non-personal manner.

“Maintaining a good rapport with your record label contacts is vital to one’s success as a manager. It’s a crucial balance that is often tested between keeping a respectful and cordial relationship with A&Rs; and other executives and taking a stand for your artist when they’re not getting the attention they deserve or were promised and when things start heading in an unfavorable direction,” says Jason Davis, sharing some of his insight as a manager.

Album Release

Once an artist has secured a recording contract, he or she is usually required to release an album. Once the album is released, the label then promotes the album and works to acquire as many radios “adds” as possible which is a term referring to a new song that is “added” to a radio station’s playlist. Record sales are directly related to radio airplay, therefore a record promoter’s main objective is to increase their ads and the amount of airplay a song is receiving.

The Importance Of Radio Airplay

The Importance of Radio Airplay: Radio station programmers are often considered to be the most important people in the music business, as they determine what gets played on the radio. In the past, there was a great deal of corruption with DJs and programmers getting paid off to play certain records. “Payola” is now illegal and strictly prohibited, however, record promoters have been known to dance a fine line when it comes to getting their albums played.

At the end of the day, the fate of an artist’s album is truly in the hands of the consumers. Even if an artist’s song is getting a lot of radio airplay and that artist is receiving a lot of excellent publicity, if the consumers don’t like the music, they are not going to buy the album. Since what the public will or will not like is uncertain at best, album sale predictions are often a crapshoot (Who would have guessed that Meatloaf would have been a smash?).

“Being a songwriter first before venturing into the business side of music has definitely given me perspective on the unpredictability of what will be a hit or not. My first hit song went to number one without anyone expecting it, least of all, me. Other songs I wrote that I, and others, truly believed had to smash hit potential, ended up doing very little. We can try to predict and control it but the reality is that it’s ultimately out of our hands.” says Jason Davis.

Contemporary Changes In The Music Industry

Due to modern computer technology, consumers no longer have to commit to buying a full-priced, full-length album if they like a radio single. Now, people can go to music websites and simply pay to download the single for a reasonable price. This works out well for the consumer but continues to be quite a struggle to adapt to for the music industry as a whole. It is household knowledge, these days, that music filesharing is a threat to major record labels and artists alike. Less known, however, is that iPods are now considered a major threat to radio broadcasters. Jeff Smulyan, Chairman/CEO of Emmis Communications says that the iPod is such a large threat “because you have a much larger number of people with an alternative source of music.” However, he also remembers when people predicted that the eight-track tape would be the demise of broadcast radio. This innovative computer technology is said to be re-inventing the music industry, for better or worse, no one is sure. Pioneers in this new world will shape the path that the music business follows in the future. It will be interesting for all of us to witness how the future of the music business unfolds.

Thank you to both Jason Davis and Jeff Smulyan for giving me your time and sharing your valuable insight for this article.

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