It used to be that the A&R position was one of the key roles within the music industry and to the success of a band. But as the music business has taken more hits and loses thanks to the rise of illegal downloading, the “traditional A&R” process has come, well, close to extinction. DigitalMusicNews.com has found that only 25 A&R execs were hired by labels (both major and larger indie) in 2010, while 40 exited without subsequent rehire. That’s pretty low compared to even 2009, when labels hired 58 A&R execs with 51 exiting. This should come as no surprise as more and more labels are having to make drastic moves to stay afloat. Even Roadrunner Records was recently forced to lay off some of their staff after Warner Brothers fully acquired the metal label.
Still leaving the question, though, as to how A&R and labels found themselves in this position, Ritch Esra of the Music Business Registry cited the following reasons:
1. The major labels are hiring fewer and fewer A&R executives because the volume of acts - and more importantly the types of acts – being signed have dramatically decreased.
2. The A&R process used to be about the discovery, signing & nurturing of the act. Today, A&R executives are not looking for talent per se. They are looking for an ongoing business.
3. An artist that has developed some kind of traction and awareness on their own is what I’m talking about. Today, acts need to be “developed” or at least developing in a business sense for any label to have even the slightest amount of interest. The idea that today’s A&R executives will discover an unknown act / artist and develop that artist is an illusion. They have neither the desire, time or money for that matter in 2011.
It’s pretty hard to argue with most of these points. With the lack of music sales and support from labels available, it’s almost next to impossible for new bands to get the proper exposure and development needed to break big. Even concert sales in 2010 (as weak as they were) showed that “developed acts” are some of the few acts that are doing well. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but besides Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, not many other new artists are breaking in (or at least providing the labels money like they or well-established acts are). So when a label needs to make some changes in order to make up the money they no longer are making, it’s the department that’s bringing less to that company. The sad truth: that dead weight is most likely going to be seen in the A&R department. Of course, labels will always be in need of new talent. However, with big labels getting beaten by illegal downloading as they are, don’t expect them to give the next young metal group a shot. So unless music and concert sales spike up in the coming year, it’s more likely that a majority of aspiring music fans will get to “act” as A&R scouts through SignMe To Roadrunner than in the real world. How sad.
Having a hard time working and trying to create a successful band? According to the government, there’s an easy solution – just quit your job! House speaker Nancy Pelosi recently gave a speech in which she said “musicians and other creative types could quit their jobs and focus on developing their talents because taxpayers would fund their health care coverage.” Now Metal Insider is not a political blog – not by a long shot. In fact, whenever politics come up, everyone turns into either Ted Nugent or Michael Moore, and it’s best to not get involved. However, this definitely brings up a debate.
Say what you will about the politics behind the new health care bill as a whole, but Pelosi’s logic about artists makes no sense. Some on the more conservative side are painting her as the devil incarnate for suggesting untalented lazy people can quit their job and live off the working people. But honestly, is there going to be any one person that takes that leap of faith only because of healthcare? Answer? No. Slacker types quitting their jobs to focus on their art were going to do it anyway, and the government has little to no bearing on that. But even if someone was to do that, in the best case scenario, this would only cover their healthcare. Unless every artist has a rich girlfriend/boyfriend or loyal family (think Anvil: The Story of Anvil), they’re going to have to keep a job somewhere to pay rent, buy food, and tools for their art, be it guitars, laptops, paintbrushes or whatever else. We’re not sure if her quote was being taken out of context or what, but it’s a strange statement to make.
Hypebot’s job board posted a metal-related opening today at Megaforce Records, its sister label Transdreamer, and distribution arm, MRI:
Position: Marketing/Digital/Administrative Coordinator
Marketing, Digital administration and general office administration
Part-time and Full-time.
–Must have music/entertainment industry/publishing ambitions.
–Must be self-starter, organized and people person.
–College degree preferred.
Megaforce and Transdreamer are innovative record companies. Its distribution arm MRI pioneered the concept of “artist-controlled” entity some 15 years ago. These companies have released some of the most important recordings in the history of music.
NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE!
Apply by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More music jobs are available for viewing on Hypebot’s job board.
Decibel magazine is hiring a marketing manager to work out of its Philadelphia office:
Decibel (decibelmagazine.com), a monthly heavy metal magazine published by the Philadelphia-based Red Flag Media, seeks a full-time marketing manager to propel our already successful national publication into a new realm. The ideal candidate will be music-industry savvy, and enjoy (or at least appreciate) extreme music. He or she will have a strong grasp of internet/email marketing strategies, and a familiarity with a variety of digital platforms. We’re looking for someone to strengthen the Decibel brand with existing partners as well and make new connections that will enable our continued growth. Our marketing manager will determine key audience demographics and develop new ways to target them, expanding our market in the U.S. and overseas. Interested candidates should send resume, cover letter and references.
Location: Center City
Compensation: $27,000 plus benefits
Send resume and cover letter to: email@example.com.