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The Glossary: Label Manager at Soundway Records | Alice Whittington

The Glossary: Label Manager at Soundway Records | Alice Whittington

What does a Label Manager do? 

A Label Manager is a jack of all trades but is mainly responsible for coordinating and delivering releases - on time, on budget and on brand.

What makes a great Label Manager?

Professionalism above all. This is a holistic attitude to the role - to name a few key examples: good work ethic, diplomacy, responsiveness, flexibility, ability to manage expectations, and a keen eye for detail. Even small mistakes or bad relationship management can turn a potentially successful release into a total disaster.

What are the basic professional requirements for a successful Label Manager?

I'd like to say it's anyone's game who's hard-working (I had no prior experience working in a record label before this job) but to grow a label and succeed, honestly you need strong project management experience, plus good written and administrative skills, and the ability to understand budgets and profit-and-loss statements. It's an administratively heavy job and needs at least basic financial understanding.

For instance, it's your responsibility to forecast how much the release will cost and how much income it will potentially bring in if all goes to plan - otherwise the label could get into real financial trouble. Or if your release data/copy is riddled with typos, not only will the artist/label look less credible, but if metadata is also wrong then payments to the artist, label and publisher could potentially not be received. Not only that, but you are juggling multiple parts of a release - from production, to artwork, manufacturing, marketing, PR, social media and potentially also physical and digital distribution. You need to make sure all the parts are scheduled and delivered well in advance, because you won't be able to last minute order a vinyl pressing or book a busy PR company.

What are the common misconceptions about the role of a Label Manager?

A Label Manager doesn't necessarily have the final say on everything as there could be owners or directors who are steering the label. And not all Label Managers are in charge of A&R, marketing, production or distribution. It depends on the size of the company as to the scope of your role and how much authority you have. But if you're not the one in charge of those areas, you'll still be closely liaising with whomever is and making sure they deliver everything correctly and on time according to the release schedule you've planned.