Roles within the Music Industry
The music industry is more than just the creative minds in the studio booth. Their artistic careers depend on the talent of the team surrounding them. So if you’re looking to get involved with the music business, know that your options are not limited— there’s most likely a role for you! Check out some of the most visible positions in the music industry below:
The thing about music publicity is that it is very difficult to break into the field. It’s not as if there is an intensive interview process, but publicists typically start low on the totem pole and work their way up. While not incredibly involved with the creation of the music, a publicist’s job is to maintain an artist’s public perception and reputation. This means fielding questions from the media, writing short speeches, and setting up interviews. One cool thing about publicists is that their career path doesn’t really require a college degree. However, you do need to have superb writing skills and an ability to connect with people on an interpersonal level.
A&R (Artists and Repertoire)
If publicists are responsible for the view of the artist in the public eye, A&R is responsible for the view the artist has of themselves. In this position, it is your job to find burgeoning talent to bring to the label. But it doesn’t stop there— A&R is also responsible for developing the artist’s talent throughout their career. This means that they are often an artist’s biggest critic. If their chops aren’t where they need to be, you need to find a new coach. If their last album was a dud, you need to let them know what to do to correct their sound. When it comes time to record the album, A&R’s job is to find the right producer, schedule time to record, and work with publishers to get permission for songs that can be played on the album.
Have you ever listened to a song, but the backing vocals or instrumentals seem a little too loud or too quiet? It’s an engineer’s responsibility to get every aspect of that just right, for your listening pleasure. Broadly speaking, music engineers are responsible for the construction of a record’s sound. Recording a song is more than getting talent into the booth and pushing the “record” button. The different parts— voices, as well as instruments— are usually recorded separately. The engineer has to take all of those different pieces and make magic happen. They manipulate the track, edit the audio, and layer the sound into one coherent masterpiece. While engineers aren’t usually the one’s coming up with concepts for songs, it is their responsibility to make sure the audience can actually hear it. Great sound engineers have a working understanding of the physical properties of sound, as well as the multiple kits, electronics, and digital devices that allow for its alteration.
When we say “producer”, one of three kinds jumps to mind. First there’s the hip hop producer. A staple of the genre, producers are literally responsible for the production of the instrumental, and are thus considered artists. For the purposes of this article though, we will use this space to talk about executive and record producers.
An executive producer needs to have some working knowledge of business and finances. It’s up to them to set budgets and expectations for the finished product’s distribution, publication, and press attention. As such, executives have are involved in multiple areas of the music business, including publishing, A&R, legal, and touring schedules. It’s an intensive job, and just like any executive, they have a number of qualified advisors and specialist working with them.
Record producers, on the other hand, are responsible for shaping the overall vision of the project. It’s up to them to figure out what sound the artist should go for, to locate talent to bring into the studio, and to oversee the general recording process. They also work closely with audio engineers during post-production mixing. Being a record producer requires lots of patience, as you need to be ready to sit through take after take, and know when you’ve got the best one possible. Since they are also responsible for matching studio band talent with the label’s artists, they also have to be ready to facilitate teamwork between potentially different personalities.
When the record gets made, who gets paid? The music publisher’s responsibility is to broker copyright agreements between the artist and the label. This requires agreeing on royalties and distributing them to involved parties. It’s also the publisher’s job to deal with any outside media, like— TV, film, or advertising— that wants to use the music for promotional purposes.