Record Label Salesperson

  • Record Label Salesperson

Representing the record label, the salesperson is responsible for establishing relationships with retail stores, rack jobbers, and online outlets to set up channels of distribution for album sales. He or she secures contracts for distribution, oversees the delivery order to provide the merchant with product, and continues to service the account as necessary. The salesperson is the primary point of contact between the merchant and the record label and is capable of handling issues relating to stock, contract stipulations, and other relevant concerns.


In securing a new account, the salesperson must first research the merchant to determine the average monthly sales of the company and to measure demographics of the market area. This information provides the salesperson with a clear picture of the market area, which can help to predict if the merchant will be a viable sales channel for the label and its roster of artists. After having gathered this information and making the determination that the merchant meets the necessary criteria, he or she will contact the owner to discuss a distribution deal.

It is typical practice for most sales professionals that they are given an exclusive territory in which to operate, such as the southeast region of the United States or particular counties. In other instances, each salesperson may be responsible for gathering clients among numerous markets but will exclusively service those accounts for the length of the relationship. At regular intervals, whether yearly or longer, the contract between the merchant and record label will expire and must be renegotiated and renewed. The contract stipulates the options for quantity of stock, percentage of profit for each entity, and other matters. Depending on the label and merchant, each album stock may have a separate contract, or the record label may require the merchant to buy a minimum of one artist in order to receive a quantity of CDs for another artists.

Skills & Education

A college degree in music business is applicable to this career, as are degrees in business administration, entertainment business, marketing, and advertising. However, numerous educational backgrounds can be appropriate to this career for those with sales savvy and the knack for closing a deal. Sales professionals are tenacious and ambitious individuals that must understand the product they are selling and the market they are selling it in. The close study of mathematics and statistical analysis will help you read a market and anticipate consumer trends, all of which can indicate if a particular merchant will be a good partner or not. This career demands an individual who has excellent interpersonal skills, as a sales deal is often affected by the personality of the negotiators involved, as much as it is dependent on the numbers.

What to Expect

Sales positions can be available to entry-level applicants without relevant experience, but there is a high turnover rate. This is because selling is a talent more than a skill that can be taught. The longer you are in the game, the more adept you will become, but there are those who simply do not possess the inherent qualities of a closer. Salespeople are generally held to a quota system that dictates compensation on commission and what volume of sales the employee must meet in order to retain the job. Sagging numbers can not only hurt your paycheck but may also land you a pink slip. Both the sales business and the music industry are highly competitive, so as a salesperson within music, you can expect the pressure to be elevated tenfold. There is good news: talented sales professionals who produce great numbers can have long, successful careers with an expectation of high salaries.


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