The Live sound sector of the music industry is booming, bringing in a quarter of UK revenues. It consists of many roles that all play a major part in putting on a performance from setup to retailing. 24 million people attended concerts and 3.7 million people attended festivals in 2015 so you can imagine how many people are employed to make these events possible.
First of all a promoter will plan an event and calculate whether it’s worth putting the event on. This involves budgeting and predicting costs and potential profits from ticket sales. Using their experience and knowledge of the industry, a promoter’s role is to predict how many people they think may attend the event and then promote it as much as they can through various different mediums such as social media posts, flyers, posters, television and radio advertising etc. As a promoter, it is their responsibility to book artists, via booking agents, and the venues they will be playing in. This, as you can imagine, comes with a lot of risk, so key attributes to that suit this line of work would be confidence, enthusiasm and passion for music.
Depending on the venues and scale of the event, security and staffing will also need to be put in place. Health and safety will need to be considered, as will the legalities of promotional material and advertising.
Within the live performance industry also comes tour management. As artists grow and start playing out it can be a lot more efficient whilst touring to have someone manage travel and accommodation and oversee the smooth running of every tour and performance. A tour manager is separate from an artist manager. A tour manager will look after the artist’s needs so that the artist can focus on making and playing music. Typically, a tour manager’s duties vary from booking flights and travel to and from gigs, to equipment testing before a performance.
Live sound can be broken up into five categories: concerts, theatre, broadcast, corporate and religious. Each requiring performers and acts that come with their own managers/promoters/background team respectively. As well as managers, performers and promoters, these events cannot take place without technical crews that may come with the venue, or may be on the road with the performer/s. The technical crew consists of sound engineers that use audio equipment to ensure sound levels are correct and mixed well. They will work with artists, venues and promoters to achieve the highest sound quality possible. Sound/audio technicians will sometimes work in the studio recording and mastering tracks, bringing them up to a professional standard. Tech crews and roadies will set up instruments and stage sets for performers and will be on hand when needed. Along side tech crews you will find backstage and front of house staff. Not much experience is needed for these jobs and they are a great way to get a foot in the door to gain experience in the industry.
Lastly, when leaving a gig you will always see a stand selling posters, clothing and any other bits of merchandise with the artist’s branding on. For some bands and artists, this is their main source of income, so merchandising and branding plays a key role in the industry too.
Despite the rise of Internet streaming and online downloads, record labels still thrive, whether they are independent or major labels. Record labels discover talent and market and distribute records to fans. This used to be in a physical format such as vinyl’s and CD’s but now comes in the form of digital downloads or streams.
Sound Cloud is a huge online source of music. It’s a great site for publishing/sending music for labels to potentially sign. It is also a thriving environment for independent record labels. An independent record label is independently funded and not connected to the ‘big three’ major labels: Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – that make up roughly 80% of the music market. Both types of label come with their pros and cons, whether working for them or being signed by them. An artist signed by a major label can feel drowned in a sea of other artists that the label signs. They are more business orientated rather that operating for passion and for that reason may offer unfriendly deals to artists. On the flip side they have bigger budgets and more industry contacts so depending on what style of music an artist produces, may decide what type of label they approach or vice versa.
To keep up with the times and continue to bring in enough money, record labels have been making 360 deals to bring in profits from live performances. This means they get a cut of the profits made by the artist when they perform, through endorsements, merchandise and appearance in movies or on television.
Due to the advancements in technology and the Internet, it is now possible to produce, manufacture and even publish records from your bedroom. This may be the future for musicians to come. Sites such as TuneCore, Bandcamp and Big Cartel offer services to publish music onto major platforms including Spotify, Amazon, iTunes etc. This provides a cheaper alternative but does not offer the platform and following that a record label may have to get your records heard.
Music Publishing Companies
Publishing companies’ work alongside songwriters and composers to register, license and collect royalties from songs. Royalties are paid to songwriters and publishing companies when a song is played on television, broadcasted via radio, played on stage etc. Live performances are split 50/50 between the composer and the publishing company; sometimes, record labels will take a cut (if they agreed on a 360 deal).
In the UK, publishers will register songs with PRS (Performing Rights Society). PRS monitor radio stations and television networks to collect royalties so the composers and publishers can get paid what they are owed.
When music is licensed, third parties may then use the copyrighted material for example this can include the song being included on a commercially released album. Depending on how much copyright you own (other people may have helped write the song) impacts on how much royalties you receive.
Some publishers will also try to generate more income for the artist and themselves by pitching the material to television, film and advertising companies, this is known as creative services.
There are different types of publishers, and their job roles can sometimes overlap that of a record label (and could arguably be done at home by ones self). Administrators will handle the law governing copyright, registration, licencing and royalty collection. Independents offer the same as that of an administrator but may also provide creative services (as mentioned above). Majors record labels use their own publishing companies and therefore sign artists to the label and publisher.
When the workload gets too busy for an artist, they may hire a manager. It is the manager’s responsibility to further an artist’s career. A manager should have contacts and reach out to get media coverage, publicity (if its in the artists interests) and sell the artists brand. This may come in the form of merchandise, sponsorship and touring.
There are downfalls of having a manager. Usually there will be a trial period to ensure the manager is the right person to take the artist in the direction they want to go. In some cases, managers have taken artists to stardom and ultimately controlled their entire life, making decisions for them even if they are not in their best interest. A contractual agreement should take place, which states how much the manager takes. Typically a manager will take around 20% of an artist’s gross income. The manager will also take post-term commission. This means that for years after the contract ends, they are entitled to a percentage of the artist’s earnings, usually around 10% for ten years after.