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Who are the players in the music industry

From artist to fan, from record label to collecting company; who is who and what do they do?

It’s 2020, the music industry is evolving, streaming redefines where traditional Music Distributors were running for decades, free online video sharing platforms (as YouTube) can become the only platform an Artist chooses to market their new song, Apple does not design only computers but has become a strong digital music retailer, Billie Eilish records music from her bedroom, and Mashups are (still) a thing.

Despite all the re-arrangements that shake the traditional scenery and force it to reform, we are going to break down the main players that still have a vital role in the music industry of today. We will sketch a general profile, since we see that the borderlines are becoming quite open and flowing.

Τhe main chords from A to Z


The abbreviation standing for Artists and Repertoire, is the division in a Record Label, which is responsible for finding new talent, managing their development and acting as a liaison among them. Record labels nowadays use A&R people to find upcoming artists, sign them, work with them during their whole music recording process.


Artist is an individual or group of people (such as a band), who, individually or through a Record Label, creates, performs and releases music.


Collective Management Organization that licenses, monitors, collects and distributes royalties on behalf of their members.  These associations copyright owners. The two most common types of CMOs are PROs (Performing Rights Organization) and MROs (Mechanical Rights Organizations):

PROA Performing Rights manages performance royalties coming from the radio, television, shops, bars, airports, cinemas and, in general, any royalties generated via broadcasting and public performance. They are also responsible for the collection of royalties from digital services, as Pandora, Spotify, YouTube etc.

MRO: A Mechanical Rights Organization manages the collection of digital and physical royalties coming from physical music releases, and digital downloads and services.

Not all countries have the distinctive activities of both PROs and MROs. In several cases the two Organization can co-live under a CMO.


Any owner of licensed music work. Even though, usually, the creator of the song is its initial licensor, anyone who has acquired the rights of a song or whole catalogue can be the licensor. So, if you are looking to add a new title to your LinkedIn profile, you’ll soon be able to do it once you’ve made your first investments on the ANote Music platform.


The record producer who supervises and manages the overall music recording of an Artist. This individual has a broad series of roles within the recording process, which may range from ideation, songwriting and music engineering, to Artist coaching, financial budgeting and negotiations.


Music publishers can be individuals or companies who own and administer a copyrighted song. By exploiting musical copyrights for all their licensing and commercial use, publishers work for Artists, Songwriters and Composers under a contract. These people put a song up to use by generating royalties of all forms (link to previous Music Royalties post), issue licenses, collect the payments for the use of these songs and pay them back according to their contract.

Record Label

A Record Label is a small or big, independent or not, local or international record company. Record Labels nowadays are closing more holistic deals, by investing in an Artist’s overall career, projects, recording, tour, music video, merchandising material etc., in return of a percentage of the sales that their record generates. Yet, within the changing industry, their role is focused now more than ever on the marketing and promotional side of the business, from radio and press coverages, to the great power of the digital world, inclusion on digital platforms and playlists, and online featurings.


Someone who writes lyrics and creates music for songs, scores and any kind of musical compositions, is a songwriter – or composer. We should differentiate here a songwriter, with a lyricist and a composer, with the two latter being someone who only writes lyrics and someone who only writes music accordingly. Also, recently, it is not uncommon to see a group of songwriters coming together for the creation of a work, or, even, songwriters acting as their own music publishers as well.


The range is wide

With time, the music industry becomes a more and more interesting Art piece that is constantly being transformed, diversified and innovated. Among the main profiles we talked about above, we shouldn’t fail to mention plenty of other individuals or companies that play an important role in the canvas of today. Engineers, lawyers, conductors, DJs, talent and business managers, talent scouters, booking agents and promoters, all come together to act as a piece in music’s mosaic.

And we shall never forget those whose role is not as apparent in the creation process, yet one of the most important and vital for music’s fruition: The musical teachers and professors who help musical nurture and birth, and the music broadcasters, journalists and critics who, one way or another, facilitate reproduction, acknowledgement intellectual nourishment. Last but not least, let’s not forget about the fans, without whom, the music industry wouldn’t be very successful.

The mosaic is not completed, the discussion is still open, the music industry is not fixated, and we already know that the future is bright and the chords delightful. We’re here to drive and facilitate the change, after all.