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Whither A&R (again)

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Monday, Oct 24, 2005

It’s sort of a oft-repeated mantra that the whole idea of A&R, artist development has been pretty much croaked out of the major label mindset in the last 10-20 years.  How true is this though?
While interviewing the Bloodshot Records staff for an article, I was struck by several things.  The label owners not only knew their artists on a personal basis but they were as proud of the close ties they have with them and all the work they’ve done with them.  This is nothing unusual for an indie label but hearing this again in detail is a good reminder of why this route is more appealing to many artists than the major route.

Contrast that with some comments from someone on the other side of the industry.  In an interview with AM New York, songwriter Kara DioGuardi (who’s written tunes for Lindsay Lohan, Christina Aquilera, Paris Hilton and Ashlee Simpson) had this to say about the music biz:

“For some of the young stars it’s just about TV distribution- there’s no artist development.  I’d like to see the industry try aritsts for artist’s sake.  I’d like to see it get back to the 70’s idea where labels stuck with it a little bit longer so when an artist connects with an audience they gain a loyal fan base.  Touching the audience on a deeper level is really important to a younger audience.”

The econmics of the majors now depends on balance sheets and quarterly reports so the idea of long-term support and development is pretty much alien to them nowadays.  Even more than downloaders, this is probably the biggest problem they face nowadays and they’re just as unequipped to meet this challenge.  All of the online deals in the world aren’t going to stop their slump until they embrace the concept of A&R again as well.

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