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Common Record Company Terms
If you are an emerging musical artist, approaching a record company can be quite intimidating. However, if you are informed about the industry, the process, and your goals, you will be more likely to find success. Below are some key terms to learn about record companies.
Agent - An agent is the person that will help you find a contract with a record label. He or she may also help you find performance gigs.
Engineer - An engineer is the professional who manages the controls and tools of the studio equipment during recording. Computer software helps manage the various elements.
Manager - A manager is the person who will help plan and stage your career, including public appearances, tours, and financial business.
Label - Label is another word used to refer to a specific record company.
Mixer - The control panel that allows the engineer to adjust sound, tone, and volume coming from the microphone or instruments during a recording session.
Mastering - Mastering is the process of polishing and refining the audio in preparation to distribute the album or track. Mastering is often done digitally with computer software.
Production - Production refers to the professional aspects related to touring, videos, and recording costs.
Rider - A rider is the contract between a performer and a venue that outlines the length of the show and payment.
Royalty - Royalties are the money that is paid to both the studio and the artist.
Independent - An independent label is one that works with a smaller number of talented artists and musicians at a time. They often have to use more tools to gain publicity, but are unique among larger music labels.
In the past, signing with a record company was the only way artists could produce, distribute, publish and promote their music. A record company owns and operates music labels, which manages the business of creating, marketing and distributing records.
Today, artists have software tools available that can help them create a home recording studio and produce their own demos and master recordings to submit to a record label, with the hopes of ultimately getting signed to a record deal.
Many artists have managed to produce high quality audio sound from their home studios, without the need for a professional music engineer. With little more than a computer, an audio digital recorder, a microphone and speakers for output, artists can create high-quality audio recordings. There are software tools to help artists through the process of recording digital audio, producing the music and creating a demo or master audio recording.
With help from the social media revolution, it's never been easier to promote and distribute a demo, without a recording contract and the backing of record companies and labels.
New home studio software and advances in digital recording have also ushered in an explosion of indie record labels, which have taken advantage of new low-cost technology to sign and publish their own music and sign bands and artists that in the past would have never been able to break into the mainstream music industry.
While there is still a place for traditional record companies and record labels, artists now have a variety of avenues to get their music published including producing their own records and forming their own indie record labels.