Music Industry Structure

An understanding of the structure of the music industry is essential for independent music makers.

The key components within the music industry are:

Artists and Composers

The creators and the ‘talent’, the people who perform and write the music that we all consume


The representatives who take care of the creators career and manage their business needs


The legal advisors who help negotiate deals for clients and ensure they have the protection they need in law.

1) Record Companies

The recordings rights owner who will market and promote (exploit) the artists releases and pay a royalty on sales

2) Publishing Companies

The composition rights owner who will collect performance income , mechanicals and try to secure synchronisations / covers and other opportunities for the songs

3) Distributors

Physical and Digital they are still relevant and important to an artist’s or labels sales. Distribution is changing and digital aggregators now play a more significant role in the supply chain but you still need to be visible and accessible to consumers.

4) Retail

The place people buy records and digital products have changed dramatically but ‘retail’ is still important to the music business. There are still major players in terms of retail e.g. I-Tunes.

5) Collection Societies 

E.g. PRS / MCPS / PPL enforce and collect revenues generated from copyrights in recordings and compositions.

6) The Media 

Print, radio, TV and the internet are the main channels that connect the performers and music with the consumer.

7) Live Music 

 The performance of live music is more important than ever and the significance of its revenue and supply chain is increasing.

Music industry structure flow chart


Other useful links

BPI Industry Maps -

Music industry universe