I hate A&R’s – Confessions of a Music Publisher
I hate A&R’s. Many have a f***** god complex. They are f***** rude. They are just plain a******.
But let me take a step back, and qualify my comments a little bit.
See, I’m a music publisher. I’m a classically trained classical pianist. I’m a real musician. I have a ears. On top of it, I also have an MBA from a top 20 university. So there. I’m qualified to be in the music + business.
But I’m pitching my music to f****** monkeys every single day. High-school drop-outs that started in the mailroom and worked “their way up” – whatever that means.
A&R, which stands for artist & repertoire, sounds like a very glorious job. But come on: let’s be brutally honest here. A&R’s are no more than glorified project coordinators with little real expertise – other than coordination. See, all that A&R’s do is check out a bunch of cool artists referred by trusted sources – established record producers, manager and select lawyers. If the band has a half-way decent sound, and even better, a strong fan following as demonstrated by (1) people showing up to their gigs, (2) Facebook and (3) Twitter followers, the band is recommended to a panel of A&R’s. That panel meets every once in a while to debate and decide whom to take on. Hard work? Nah, not really. Finding a cool new artist is easy, if you know where to look. Seriously, just to to Ghengis Cohen or Molly Mallone’s in LA, and you hear half a dozen cool new artists every single day. Hand-picked by real musicians who have done the quality control for A&R’s already.
So what then? Well, A&R’s then just coordinate once the artist is signed. There’s the record label’s Marketing team that does the heavy-lifting on all things marketing. There’s the PR team that handles all things PR. The actual record production is produced by the selected record producers. There are teams of real experts for pretty much everything – concerts, production, publishing, co-writers, etc. etc. So all an A&R has to do is put together a project plan and coordinate things. In the real world, these people are called project coordinator or project managers.
What about sourcing and picking hit songs for an album? Here’s where A&R’s could theoretically be useful, but that’s where the real nightmare for music publishers like me begins. See, I represent a few dozen established and up-and-coming (= amateur) songwriters and record producers that have some cool songs. Some got Grammy awards, and others just a few killer demos. But by and large, they are a cool bunch of folks with quality material.
…to be continued…
Do you agree, or do you disagree? Let me know and post your comments below. I’ll respond to every cool comment.
(Photo courtesy of CC – by Vox Efx on Flickr)