Salespeople & Distributors


The middleman between the record label and the retailers (physical & digital).


The sales department manages all the retail activities of the label both physical (CDs, vinyls, cassettes…) and digital (streaming platforms, digital sales). A few decades ago, this department was only focused on the physical side. Their goal was to create a relationship with the record store chains and market retailers to distribute the albums.

Recently, the rise of DSPs also called the “streaming era”, has changed the listening habits of consumers, drastically reducing the sales of physical copies for a digital subscription. Therefore, the sales department has transformed and is now working mainly with DSPs. Before a release, they make sure the platforms have received the records and are ready for the D-day. They also negotiate deals for royalties payments and ad placements with DSPs.  

​Their tasks being mainly operational, sales are often found at the record company level meaning there is no one department in each label, but a big one overseeing multiple major labels (ex: in Sony 'Global Digital Business' group oversees the sales work for all major labels - Columbia, Arista, RCA, etc.)

The sales department inside major record companies is a sort of in-house music distribution company. They sign deals with record labels or artists which gives them the right to sell their music to shops (physical or digital). Independent labels usually don’t have their own sales team and go through distribution companies instead.

Today, a lot of digital (only) distribution companies like TuneCore or CD Baby have emerged. They allow DIY artists to distribute their songs easily to streaming platforms without needing a label.



At the record company level (umbrella for all labels), the sales department is usually composed of different teams focusing on specific streaming platforms. One for all Spotify matters, one for all Pandora inquiries, etc.


They are responsible for making the sales of the label’s CDs, DVDs, and videos. They visit, make phone calls and keep in touch with people outside the label.


They make sure the record has been distributed to DSPs around the world; Spotify, Apple Music but also Gaana and Jioaavn (India), KuGou and QQ (China), etc.


They make sure the record has been distributed to DSPs around the world; Spotify, Apple Music but also Gaana and Jioaavn (India), KuGou and QQ (China), etc.

*sometimes the part of the international sales is centralized for all labels under one group* For example, Sony's Global Digital Business & US Sales record division deals with international sales for all Sony Labels (RCA, Arista, Columbia, etc.)​


As an assistant, my day starts by managing the SVP's schedule; moving meetings around, scheduling new ones, and canceling others. My job is mainly to assist them administratively from time management to maintaining their expenses. Generally, I have different tasks for each day of the week. I send a lot of release schedules to social media platforms, DSPs, and my bosses to keep them aware of the new Sony releases coming up that week. My favorite part of the job is working on the curation of the Sony playlists like Filtr. I personally helped fasten the curation process from the pitching to the distribution. The DSP I work most with is Spotify. My task is to ensure that everything goes according to plan. I make sure they respect their part of the contract on ad credits and placements and I work with them to take down songs if there is a licensing mistake or if they are sampled without authorization.

Sales Administrative Assistant @Sony Music US


Who they work with and what they do 


- Distribute artists singles & albums to DSPs on time for the release
- Negotiate business partnerships with DSPs -- Examples:  
        ° Reduced royalties rate per stream for artists of a specific label in exchange for free ad credits
        ° ‘Artist Social Boost’: DSPs are granted advertising access to an artist's Facebook or Instagram to run
           ads offering their followers 3 months free premium. In exchange, the label gets a portion of the profit from the fans signing up through the artist's link
- Partner with DSPs for marketing initiatives such as:
        ° Billboard in Time Square
        ° Playlist takeovers
        ° Example: Olivia Rodrigo's Car Wash with Spotify in LA.


- Licence songs before release
- Make sure the metadata is complete (every detail about the song is filled out - producers, singer, date, title, etc.)


- Curate playlists on streaming platforms to promote their artists
- Establish the number of copies of an album that needs to be produced
- Make sure the production and delivery runs smoothly (with Production Dep)


A music supervisor reaches out to the label with interest in a song. They provide 3 elements for a possible contract and give a scene description and information on the use of the song.

With those elements in mind, the Sync Department defines the licensing fees for the use of that song. The amount usually depends mostly on the artist, scene description and length, and part of the song used.

The label asks for the artist's approval; both on the budget and the use of the song (which project it will be featured on).

Important to know: For a song to be used, it needs the approval of both the master recording (label) and the publisher. This means all songwriters have to approve the use of the song too! And if an artist is also a songwriter they need to approve it twice, once through the label and once through the publisher.

Once negotiated, the deal has to be sent to the publishers for approval.

This step is necessary legally to ensure that the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause is respected.

If a music supervisor confirms the use of a song then the license is created.

On their side, they will have to pay a fee for the use of the composition (copyright to the publisher) and a fee for the master (to the label).


“For NY and LA, there is always a member of our team at shows to organize business encounters, escort our partners backstage. It’s kind of a concierge service”
- Tour and Special Events @Interscope  


​"When there is no covid I travel a lot so I am divided between being with the artist on tours and promotion - with visits to my offices for strategy and planning meetings around the world and in London with my team on a day-to-day basis when we are not traveling. My boss travels much more than I do so we are used to working remotely and maintaining constant communication."


Is a degree required?

The recommended majors for the sales department are marketing, sales, and advertising.

Written by Lou & Ixe.
Designed by Lou.
Published June 17th 2021
Copyright © 2021 Gen Admission.