Contrary to the thinking of most people, record companies do not constitute the main element of the music industry. In fact, even if we were to include manufacturing and distribution as part of the work done by a record company (and most record companies farm out these activities, majors excepted) then still the record companies employ only 7900 of the total 48 600 people working in the business (Chapter 2).
To put the record company as we know it into some sort of context, it would be beneficial to consider life before the record company, and how it eventually came into being.
We could go back many hundreds and even thousands of years before we might find the first person ever to make money from performing his or her own piece of music. Yet it was only a couple of hundred years ago that music actually started to be published. Before that time, the means by which someone could own the rights to a piece of music, and thus insist on payment from anyone else wishing to use that piece of music, simply didn’t exist.
From the wandering minstrel to music hall artist, from the court musician to Mozart, people have been paid for singing and playing for centuries. In the case of the latter it was as much the music as the person that people were paying for, although it was only ever the actual performance for which people were