What differentiates a music label from all others ?


There are a few key things that make a music label different from all others. The first is that a music label helps to develop new artists and promote their work. They work with the artist to create a unique sound and help to get their music out to the public. A music label also helps to manage the business side of things for the artist, including contracts, royalties, and marketing. Lastly, a music label can provide financial backing for an artist, which can help them to create better quality music and reach a larger audience.Generally speaking, a music label is a company responsible for the manufacturing, distribution, and promotion of recordings of their affiliated artists. Their main objective is to sell the artist’s brand, and the products these artists create (mainly music released via streaming or as a physical release).The expression ‘record label’ actually comes from the label at the center of a vinyl record, which prominently displayed the record manufacturer’s name along with the title and artist.Traditionally, record labels functioned as gatekeepers between the artist and the possibility of the artist reaching their audience. Back in the day, record manufacturing was necessary and expensive, and records were only sold in stores. Artists relied on labels to do almost everything, including broadening their audience, marketing their albums, and promoting their singles. 

A Music label can provide financial backing

There are a few things that differentiate a music label from all others. The first is the ability to sign artists and help them develop their careers. A label also has access to distribution and promotion channels that help get the artists’ music out to the public. Additionally, a music label can provide financial backing for an artist’s recording and marketing expenses.An independent label should strive to become proficient at producing a single style of music. The more diversified a small label is, the more diluted its resources become, and the less likely it is to gain expertise in any genre. This certainly will limit its promotion and marketing success.Record labels can advise artists on which platforms to distribute their music through, and can get the music onto those platforms for them, saving the musicians time and money.What we most likely think about when we hear the terms ‘Major’ and ‘Indie’ is either an artist or a record label. Both ‘Major’ and ‘Indie’ are terms that can be used in conjunction with publishers, distributors, and almost any other entity in the music business. Furthermore, we all know that ‘Indie’ has even become its own genre.


The big difference we all think about when comparing a major label and an independent label is size – and it is true. The three major players in the music industry right now control about 70% of the music market globally. Although that is just an estimation, it is quite significant. Think about it – for every 2 major releases you listen to, you only listen to 1 indie release (approximately).


Another difference is the varying corporate structure. Often, Indie labels are founded by artists – that way, they have the artist at the centre of their efforts, and are believed to be more artist-friendly.


A third difference is that independent labels almost always release non-mainstream music. Even though, in some instances the genre borders grow closer and closer together. 

For every music label, major or indie, the main function is the same, though. They take care of the copyright of sound and video recordings. They do that by producing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, promoting, and enforcing copyrights for their respective artists. 

Major Labels

Major most often refers to a record label. These record labels almost always are part of larger conglomerate corporations that consist of many record labels. 

From 1988 to 2020, a lot has changed in the Major Music label world. In 1988, there were six major record labels. These were by far the biggest music labels around, and that is why they were called “The Big Six”.

The Big Six were:

Warner Music Group


Sony Music


Universal Music Group


The major label landscape is subject to constant change due to mergers, acquisitions and restructuring. Today, there are only three major labels. The so-called ‘big three’ major record labels are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group. All of these companies own many other labels, and form a label family that way.

The Big Three of today are:

Universal Music Group

Sony Music Entertainment

Warner Music Group

Each of these three major labels has a plethora of record labels under their umbrella.

Universal Music Group (UMG) is owned by a French media conglomerate (90%) and a Chinese tech company Tencent (10%). Within the hundreds of labels in their roster are some of the most iconic and influential in the world, including Abbey Road Studios, Capitol Records, and Deutsche Grammophon, to name a few.

Sony Music Entertainment is owned completely by Sony Corporation in Japan. Sony Music Entertainment also owns a long list of prestigious record labels, such as Columbia Records, RCA Records, and Epic Records.

Warner Music Group (WMG) is the third label group of the Big Three. WMG’s parent company is a privately held multinational industrial group called Access Industries. WMG owns and operates some of the largest and most successful labels in the world, including Elektra Records, Warner Records, Parlophone, and Atlantic Records.


The article discusses the differentiating factors of a music label, which can be summed up as the relationships that the label has with the artists and the fans. A music label can provide a higher level of exposure for artists, as well as a sense of community among fans. Additionally, a music label can help to develop an artist’s career by providing guidance and support.

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