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What Is The Music Business?

The music business is a many-headed beast, all feeding off one another, constantly moving and growing.

So let’s define what the music business actually is…

It Starts With a Song

It would be fair to say that this entire business starts with the song. Nothing would happen without someone writing a great song. There would be no recording industry, no live music industry, no staging, lighting, and touring companies, no merch, no promotion of recordings, no radio airplay, songs used in films, streaming, downloading or awards shows, etc. The list of music businesses could go on and on but – important to note here — is that the song is the beginning.

It starts with the songwriters who write the songs. The writer’s songs need to be exploited (in a good way) to create income or royalties for the writer so that the writer then seeks out one of the biggest and oldest sectors of the music industry: the music publisher.

Reach Out To A Music Publisher

The music publisher likes what they hear and can see real commercial appeal in the writer’s works, so the music publisher then sets out to have the songs recorded. The songwriter may have a band or could be a solo act, but somehow musicians will be involved. This then means the involvement of a recording company. 

Partner With A Record Company

Record companies are in the business of making recordings of songs and turning those songs into commercial assets for the songwriter, the music publisher and of course; themselves. Recording companies like the act and set about signing the act to its roster. This then becomes the responsibility of the Artist & Repertoire Manager.

To make recordings of songs we need to bring in the recording studio – a very important part of the music business mix. Studios need producers, engineers, and large spaces to make fantastic recordings. Studios also employ studio musicians (or session players as they are sometimes called).

The recording company starts promoting the recorded song through the media using promotional people, publicity campaigns and marketing companies. The music publisher now sets about looking for other opportunities for the song to become popular – by looking at having the song used in a film or a television commercial. Eventually, they might be looking at having other artists, possibly big-name artists, cover the song, meaning that they make a whole new recording of the song.

Thinking About Touring

Hopefully, popularity grows for the song and the band, so the demand for the song grows and the band or act needs to travel and to tour other markets to play the song live to new and growing audiences. Venues need to be booked, so along comes the booking agent to plan and book tours. Tours require tour managers, production managers, lighting operators, sound engineers, and merchandisers. Production companies provide the sound equipment needed. Venues provide the spaces to play. Touring needs travel agents. 

The band has reached into the festival market by now and concert promoters start booking the band onto major festival lineups around the world.

The Need to Understand Promotions

The music business is also about the technology that enables us to access the songs we want to hear.  Technology provides better ways of hearing the songs. The media is about keeping us up to date with the latest news and information about the songs and band that we want to know more about. This is called promotions in the music business landscape.

Go Forward With Your Career In The Music Industry

Then, of course, there are the musical instrument makers who make the guitars, drums, basses or horns. And of course the educators: the teachers who teach music and music business.

What a journey, but more importantly, what a vast array of jobs available in the music business that includes writers, musicians, recording engineers, marketers, promoters, booking agents and venue managers, plus many, many more. The opportunities for careers in the music business are huge.

Get some music business education – take some Continuous Music short courses and just go for it!

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