Find out how the Music Industry works

Posted by Daniel Hodson (Updated: Sunday, January 3, 2021)

Approximately 6 minutes reading time

How Does the Music Industry Work?

Within the music industry are numerous pieces of a puzzle; each piece represents a vital and specific role, yet they all rely equally on each other. How does this make any sense at all, you ask? Well, music industry sectors are required to work together - it’s simply a necessity to create possibilities for bands and artists to get noticed, grow their brands, and share their music to the masses. 

As you may have come to realize, the competition amongst upcoming bands and artists is fierce. Becoming recognized and noticed for musical talent has become considerably harder since the birth of the digital age. In this modern era, everyone has equal opportunities, so moving with the trends of forever-evolving technology and platforms is essential to succeeding.

In today’s day and age, it is becoming increasingly important for bands and artists to partner with music industry professionals, and grow their team, consequently taking their music career to the next level. As you begin to think about progression routes, you start paving a path and these music industry additions can often come naturally with time. You must be patient, focussed, and determined to succeed. 

For example, if you’re making a buzz on the music scene, A&R scouts will naturally want to see what the buzz is all about. This buzz will often start local, but once you start playing more shows in other territories, you’ll develop an extended fan base and the buzz grows louder with each show.

It goes without saying, but having a full team behind your music is truly invaluable: it presents you with opportunities to work with highly respected producers, the possibility of implementing tactical release plans, improving branding and image, merchandising, distribution, high profile shows, and tours, and lots more. The logistical demands behind any band or artist increase as they grow and progress up the ladder and a strong team is detrimental to success.


Bands and Artists

A band or artist requires confidence in their music and their talent; they must be constantly striving to become the next fresh sound that appeals towards their target audiences. Consequently, this can cement them within the music scene as something special. 

If you can push the barriers to create something new and authentic surrounding your musical project, the results will be far more head-turning as opposed to relying on your music alone. Dedicating your life to a musical project isn’t for everyone; arguably, it comes with many sacrifices, so finding the right bandmates to pursue a mutual vision is highly important. You will be developing a sound together, and staying true to your musical project’s vision is key.

Early days in a band can be difficult, full of rejection and high costs, but remember: every act started there at some point. Investing money in production forces you to produce and maintain consistently high professional recordings and visuals, along with allowing you to improve other elements of your music and band. This immediately evidences you as a stronger act over an endless sea of other upcoming bands and artists; helping set you aside from the crowd. 



A music manager is highly sought after within the music industry, mainly because they remove the headache of the many different aspects of organization needed for the band or artist. In addition to this, they can help open doors for further opportunities that develop the band or artist, such as press opportunities, record deals, endorsements, and much more.

Music managers may be selective in building their roster and who they decide to invest their time in, henceforth, likely, they will only work with a band if they believe they have the potential for substantial success.

Equally, it’s just as important for a band or artist to be selective with whom they opt to partner, as ultimately, the chosen music manager will act as a bridge between the artist/s and the music industry. This is arguably the most important job for a music manager, therefore they must possess strong networking skills and can build relationships with labels, promoters, media, and agents. 

Without these imperative music manager skills and knowledge in the mix, it could be impossible to achieve tangible results in terms of real development for yourself or the band. It isn’t uncommon to receive offers for local shows when starting but to grow and move further forward, it’s essential to have a music manager who is willing to fight for you, in the hopes of securing bigger and better opportunities.

In addition to the value behind a music manager’s network library, is their knowledge surrounding the etiquette, basic law, and fine details within the music industry. This can help guide you through the processes surrounding contracts and client protection, ergo moving the band or artist in the right direction. With this in mind, an attorney or legal team may be required for licensing music and contracts, as there are limits to what a music manager can achieve on their own. Seeking professional legal advice will also support you in the financial legalities and successes of a band or artist.


Record Labels

Securing a record label can be highly beneficial for a band or artist, but it’s debatable as to whether it is a modern-day requirement, due to the ever-advancing digital age. Now more than ever, many bands and artists have opted to avoid record labels, in the pursuit of maintaining full ownership of their music, and in turn, their music sales and revenue.

Leading on from this, there are several things to consider, as the avoidance of a record label means that all of the success of a band or artist rests on their shoulders. An independent music release campaign requires a lot of internal organization and planning, combined with providing independent finances to produce a professional product, such as videos, promos, production, artwork, alongside additional marketing costs.

However, record labels are still heavily valued and considered an ideal option to support and advance your musical project. This is due to their mass distribution networks, partnerships, promotional, and marketing teams; the perception of a band signed with a record label helps make you an authority in the music industry, too.

Record labels are the link between your music and how it gets released to the public, therefore having music industry professionals working alongside you ensure this is carried out as efficiently as possible. Record labels, dependent on the size and deal, may also make it easier for you to become a stronger international act; which would be a near-impossible feat independently.


Booking Agents

Similar to many other music industry professionals, it’s open to question whether a booking agent is required depending on where you’re at in your music career. Booking agents will only consider working with a band or artist if they have already put in the leg work, and can offer demand from the live music circuit.#

The job of a booking agent is busy and varied. They look to secure their clients with touring opportunities, often with larger acts, book shows, and festivals that are usually at a level that wouldn’t be considered easily attainable if pitched for directly by a band or artist. You could say booking agents are considered to be the main gatekeepers of the live music world, and are key to growing your presence, both as an act in general and on the live circuit.

As a standard, booking agents usually take a 10-15% commission cut from a band or artist’s booking fee, alongside being responsible for ensuring logistics and demands of a tour are met. As a band or artist grows, the responsibility gets split further between tour managers, merchandise managers, roadies, and eventually, a full crew catering to all needs of the band or artist, while on the road. 



The role of a music promoter is to host, organize, and promote musical events. This could be on a local independent level or on a worldwide scale under a company that works with multiple venues. Booking agents and music promoters go hand in hand, as they are the main contributors to ensuring the live music industry stays alive.

Music promoters are responsible for providing ticket sales information, and on higher levels, the merchandising surrounding a show. It is also imperative that a music promoter ensures local areas are aware and well informed about any shows, and of course, to sell as many tickets as possible. The promoter, big or small, usually has some input into the billing of the show, calculating who would work best with the headliner and contribute more to the turn out of the show.

Marketing and PR Agencies

Marketing and press coverage is becoming increasingly more important and relevant as each day passes; utilizing it properly can truly be the make or break for a band. PR agencies ensure that your music is being picked up by relevant media outlets, such as music publications, radio stations, and television coverage; while music marketing agencies tend to focus on the more modern-day digital campaigns. 

Digital marketing campaigns often include a marketing plan centered on optimizing music sales and streams, website design, sales funnels, digital distributor playlisting, email campaigns, AdWords, social media, and much more. The digital age has made it easier than ever for a band or artist to get their music to the public, which in turn makes the competition much greater, so the need to invest in marketing and promotion is greater than ever before.



Hopefully, in reaching the end of this article, you are now more clued up and knowledgeable in the ways of the music industry, and the cogs and functions within it. Every role plays a vital part in the success of a band or artist, although it is questionable if every role is needed, depending on the size of a band or artist, and how far in their musical journey they are. Undoubtedly, various music industry professionals will be required at some point in the journey - it’s just a question of when.

Daniel Hodson

Daniel Hodson is a co-founder of Music Missile, and the drummer and founder of various UK bands. His passion stems from both studying and working in the music industry for the past decade.

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