Week 10 – Blog 10: How the Modern Industry has left Certain Specialist Roles Behind

In the long road of learning the convoluted, arguably transparently simple music industry, people seem to carry many roles and titles which at times may be difficult to understand. This is due to each person being at a different level of development or success and thereby need different levels of titles and roles. As we have come to understand, the transition the music industry has faced in the past five years alone has rendered several ex-executives and middle management people at various labels and companies, as well as former bands and artists themselves. There are people now jobless with skills that seem to exclusively fit their well-defined role just a few years earlier. Based on the development of technology lots of companies are having to adjust and create new roles that may potentially replace other roles leaving some barely scrambling to earn a living.

This means they have to be creative to define a new role allowing an income source from an industry that is heavily saturated with aspiring professionals. However, certain companies and job titles are still crucial to the industry. Patrick Hess (2014) believes that the greatest contributor to the unemployment line is record label companies. Even though he claims that digital streaming and downloadable music has seriously destroyed a chunk of revenue for labels and has greatly removed their need for large staffs of neatly defined roles and titles. (Hess, P. 2014)

As heart-breaking as this may be to some in the industry, I believe that those left without the role they once had, they need to adapt and develop new skills that would be useful for the modern operations of companies they once worked for. This is because companies will ultimately constantly change to provide the consumers what they want. This ideology is supported by John Storey’s statement in his book on ‘Cultural Theory and Popular Culture”. Storey claims that the promoters of commercialised entertainment exonerate themselves by referring to the fact that they are giving the masses what they want. This is an ideology appropriate to commercial purpose: the less the mass discriminates, the greater the possibility of selling cultural commodities indiscriminately. (Storey, J. 2006)


Hess, P. (2014). Managing Management in the Music Industry. Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-hess/managing-management-in-th_b_5488226.html. Last accessed 31/03/17.

Storey, J (2006). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, A Reader. 3rd ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited. pp.81.



1 thought on “Week 10 – Blog 10: How the Modern Industry has left Certain Specialist Roles Behind

  1. I have worked with and known many people from the ‘traditional’ / ‘old school’ record industry, such as managers, distributors and lawyers. The ‘glory days’ of contracts with advances and artist development made many middle men great livings and lifestyles. When the heyday began to pass (around 2000), many had to adapt not only to new skill sets but as fully-fledged freelancers. I think this coincided with music consumers beginning to place less value on both physical music and gigs, as a ‘free for all’ mentality began to take shape in regards to music. Home recording also left many studios struggling and bands simply did not have the finance to pay a fortune for PR, social media (which was also very new at this time), radio pluggers (another role becoming evermore obsolete) and other ‘staff’. Small budgets meant a DIY attitude to all stages of production and distribution. I agree that adapting is key, and unavoidable; 360 deals, increased sync deals and independent music organisations have all been offshoots of the record industry fallout. It would be interesting to study the journeys some of those middle men have taken within the wider music industries, since the passing of the old model of the ‘music biz’.
    A great book, charting the entire industry and all the ins and outs of the major labels is ‘Hit Men’, which I would recommend.

    Dannen, F., 2003. Hit men: power brokers and fast money inside the music business. London: Helter Skelter.


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