From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. In everyday usage, a record label is also a company that manages such brands and trademarks; coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, promotion, and enforcement of copyright protection of sound recordings and music videos; conducts A&R; and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers.
Record labels may be small, localized, and "independent", or they may be part of a large international media group, or somewhere in between. Generally, recorded music needs a record label in order to be widely known, reviewed, heard on media outlets such as radio or television, and in order to be available to buy in stores, although the Internet has changed this to some extent.
The name, "record label", refers to the usually papered and cut center area of a vinyl recording that prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other pertinent information. Many 7" vinyl singles were pressed with a relief in lieu of the paper label, particularly in Great Britain.
A record label that is a part of a larger record company that also operates as a record label, might be referred to a sublabel of its parent record label.