How Record Labels Work

The Importance of Radio

While record companies represent a huge part of the music industry, the other huge part consists of radio stations. Record labels and radio stations must work together to succeed. Record labels must get radio stations to play the music of the artists they represent, and radio stations need a consistent flow of new material for their listeners. While record companies make their money by selling albums, radio stations make money by broadcasting advertisements. Radio stations need an audience of listeners so that advertisers will buy airtime. If record labels can deliver radio stations music that will get listeners, stations can sell airtime. In this way, everyone gets what they want. There is a process that both labels and radio stations go through before this can happen.

When record labels are about to release an album, they have their promotions and/or sales department try to get radio airplay for the album. In the history of the music industry, there have been a million ways record labels have tried to get their artists on radio stations. They have done everything from fly an artist to a station to do an interview to offer stations illegal money (called payola) to play an artist's music.


Often, radio stations and labels will work together to promote artists, like when a radio station hosts a concert or in-store record signing. It's important for both record label executives and radio station personnel to be aware of the current trends in music, keep track of an artist's success and keep up with changing radio formats. Good relationships between a record label and radio stations can mean that everyone will make money off of an artist's success.