Anonymous A&R Op-Ed – Ways You Can Stop Your Label From Bleeding To Death

Anonymous AR.jpgWhat may promise to be a somewhat regular column here , I will be turning regular IM conversations I have with my friend of 10+ years, an A&R rep from a Major Label that prefers to remain anonymous, into an article. With millions of records under his belt, and some of the most condescending cynical banter I have ever heard, he has a lot to say. In the last 2 months I have begged for him to write us one of his many insightful opinions. Only under the condition that I never utter his name, transcribe the IM conversations and “not be a p***y about losing advertisers”, will he contribute. In what I hope will be a regular feature, he imparts some advice to anyone who runs a label or is still signing bands. Follow me to the jump and let’s hear his very wise advice.

  • Stop Signing So Many Bands! The days of throwing a bunch of sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks are OVER! Every band you sign, needs to be a CAREER BAND. If you are the least bit hesitant that the band may not work, keep moving, there are a million bands out there looking to “make it big.” Find one that can really do you some good, not just the one that is best to help meet Quarterly Earnings.
  • Realize Every Band Knows Large Indies Are Better To Sign To! If you are signing any band that isn’t “Top 40 Crapola”, understand they would be better off on a Large Indie then dealing with the system we have in place right now. They have all seen the Trent Reznor interview on the YouTube! We cannot compete with their royalty rates and authenticity, so don’t try! Offer them the one thing you can, A BUDGET! Bands are still stupid enough to believe the myth that if you spend enough money on them, they will be huge. Trust me, it’s all they have left to believe in.
  • Don’t Sign Bands You Don’t Get! The days when you could sign any band you thought was cool are over. I don’t care if enough hipsters bought their records or the coolest 21 year old you know told you they are going to be huge. You need to be able to hear the difference between the band handing in a record that works and one that doesn’t. Before a band heads into the studio, you need to know the songs they wrote are solid. All too often, I see fellow staff members sign bands that they think are so complex and “next-level” they don’t know how to question their artistic senses! Sometimes a band needs to be challenged! Is this really the best song you can write? Do we really think this is the best direction for this track? If you can’t tell if their demos are good and you let them go and spend their recording budget, the odds are against you getting anything good out of the band.
  • Stop Letting Bands Drive Their Own Ship! Many bands decide they are going to “record on their own”, if I wanted to destroy the home recording industry, I would show the direct link with bands having a successful record with a great producer and then “recording on their own” and that record tanking. Look it up, it’s on The Google!
  • Find The Value In Your Artist! We (the Majors) have the power of money and budgets. We need to use this to find innovative marketing plans for our Artists. No one has figured out how to make the Internet work for them yet – not even (expletive description removed) Kanye – there is a way to make it work, we just haven’t found it yet.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.