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The A&R Commandments


Sorry I took so long today, but this one was important to me so I had to make sure it was right. Since I started blogging, I’ve been asked to do a post on what A&R’s really do and what they’re looking for in an artist. So I’ve decided to give you guys a small glimpse of how the A&R mind works. I’m currently employed with the most hated label on the blogosphere right now but I’ve worked at smaller imprints like Just Blaze’s Fort Knocks and Beat Street Records. All in all I’ve getting paid to A&R for over 3 years now. Over time I’ve pretty much got this hustle down to a science, all of which I’m not going to expose on this blog. But I will give you aspiring artists a few tips and hopefully save you sometime and money.


Demos are DEAD

Think about it for a second. Even if Biggie re-incarnated was in one of the 4,389,763,725,638,033,271,968 demos that are sent out a month, why should the A&R listen? There are only 4 labels these days anyway, so chances are you’ll be picked up by a production company and be shopped to the same place. I personally think myspace is the new demo. Not only can I see your bio, press kit, best 4 songs all in one spot, I can see fan feedback and how people react to you. Save that UPS money and pay someone to step your page up. Then send the demo after someone requests one. But don’t just call and send unsolicited packages because that’s just wasting everyone’s time.


An A&Rs Job Isn’t To Listen To You

I get about 1000 messages a month on myspace alone with people asking me to review their page. Luckily I’m nice and really check out people’s music but I do take my time with it. But believe it’s not fun. Actually it’s painfully bad most of the time and I’m listening to them when I rather be watching the Bombers beat the living hell out of the Bosox. Most A&Rs just don’t care and only listen to maybe 25% of the music that comes there way. An A&R really is supposed to go after what’s hot and buzzing. You don’t necessarily need BDS or Soundscan, but at least have a couple local DJs should at least be supporting you. If not, the word of mouth of your shows should garner you some attention. But Hip Hop isn’t like R&B where you hear somebody rap and you just give him or her a shot because they’re super nice. By the time you’re fully developed the A&R would be out of a job. It’s more like boxing; you move up in the ranks. Knock a couple niggas out and the talk of a great fighter will spread. When you make it to the top, people want to give you the big purse. Especially you New Yorkers; no one in the past 10 years has come straight out of New York and been successful without hitting the underground scene first. Whether its mixtapes, Lyricist Lounge or open mics, people have paid their dues. So don’t tell me you started wrapping six months ago and want a deal now.


Please Don’t Put More Than 15 Beats On Your CD

You’ll drive the A&R crazy. After a while I start seeing colors and shapes. Just put your best bunch and keep it trucking.


Don’t Sell Yourself To A&Rs

Most A&Rs are arrogant cocky bastards like myself. Don’t go all out your way trying to sell yourself to them; save that for the fans. Your main hustle should be getting your buzz up, honing your skills and mastering your IDENTITY (more on that in a second). A&Rs don’t want to crush your dreams, so they’ll make you jump through all kind of loops instead of saying “you suck” flat out. This isn’t Krush Groove and you’re not LL.  Perform and get as much exposure as possible to make them come to you.


Artist Development Is No More

Pro: All these independent production companies are making tons of money overcharging labels for what they did to TLC. Roc-a-fella, Grand Hustle, Swishahouse etc all are breaking artists on their own and only relaying on the major for distribution and the check.
Con: Since all these small labels are doing all the work, why should the major sign the artists without one? Why do artist development when someone can do it for them? So what the majors do is just sign “movements” and pushes them out through the imprint. Or sign an artist to the label and put them with a winning situation. We’ve seen this time and time again: Game and G-Unit, Slim Thug and Star Trak etc. 
I’ll give you guys more commandments later this week. Plus if you have any questions you want me to answer, you can leave them right in the comment section.
Oh yeah, stop writing me messages saying I deleted your comments. I don’t edit comments at all. Take it up with management. I love the feedback whether it’s positive or negative. Sticks and stones…until tomorrow.

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