Bottom line – music careers cost money. Labels will also sort neighbouring rights such as PPL (a royalty due when the recording is played publicly on radio, TV or in shops) and chasing down synchronisation opportunities – getting the recording onto TV adverts or placed into films. Recently Azealia Banks went from indie to major and signed with Universal after complaining about her treatment by XL Recordings. Now, manufacturing and distribution (M&D) deals also used to fall under a label’s duties. They'd laugh me straight out of the door. Manufacture

Their marketing machine, endless contacts in radio, TV, digital and physical stores, press, blogs, magazines and sheer financial muscle can make a huge impact on an artist’s career – but only if they choose it to. But if the label doesn’t get you and what you’re all about, the remaining criteria are almost unimportant. Your band's hitting it big in the clubs, you've got a demo and you're ready to shop for a record label. Now, arguably, large labels are not as agile as independent artists, and once a marketing campaign is in motion, aiming the fired bullet becomes nearly impossible. Nowadays distribution is as much digital as it is physical – labels have direct relationship with online stores such as iTunes, Amazon and Spotify and leverage this to have their products featured on these services’ front pages (which can represent a significant bump in revenue). Learn how your comment data is processed. One further option open to artists (if this all feels a bit doom and gloom) is to find a label services company. The global industry in 2014’s revenue was split into 46% physical sales, 46% digital sales, 6% performance income (such as neighbouring rights) and 2% syncronisation – labels will give the lion’s share of their time to increasing sales. This is where deep pockets and having lots of friends in the right places really come into their own. Record labels may be small, localized and "independent" ("indie"), or they may be part of a large international media group, or somewhere in between. Find out what record labels can do for you, and learn about the … With this deal in place, the distributor would pay for an album’s manufacturing costs, and then recoup their expenses form record sales. They’re not always great. Artists who want to go it alone should just do that. It’s literally all about who you know. Do You Need A Record Deal To Do Well In Music? I recently spoke to Ed Sheeran's producer, Jake Gosling (more of which will appear in next week's Behind the Music), and asked why Sheeran had decided to sign with Asylum/Atlantic, part of Warner Music Group. A record label may choose to license your music by purchasing the rights to it. Labels have clocked this and will throw money (known as tour support) into getting an artist out on the road – where ticket revenue, physical sales and other merchandise (another area a label looks after) with great margins provide a strong return on investment. There's also something to say for local expertise. Now, roles in the music industry can be fluid in the sense that any position can be a combination of different tasks and responsibilities. And, the same opportunity is available to anyone with the skills and smarts to pull it off. …but you can see how most of it can be boiled down to organising and writing the cheque for things on behalf of an artist and using their network to promote any releases. Interview with Managing Director Henry Marsden. It's true the internet has been brilliant for artists in many ways, giving them an alternative route to make contact with and sell directly to fans, but record labels do much more than distribute to retailers. That discussion, as well as one I had on Twitter has highlighted a certain confusion regarding what today's record labels actually do.