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Just a few years ago, there were plenty of mid-level execs, primed to sign the right artist for their companies. Those days are gone, and the business is much the worse for it.
WHEELS & DEALS: ELIMINATION OF A&R’S MIDDLE CLASS
This Week, Rodel Bemoans the Disappearance of A&R’s All-Important Worker Bees
By Rodel Delfin

Our fearless leader touched upon a crucial point in his recent LennyBeerBlog entry about what ruined the record business: When the big corporations took over the major labels, a huge change took place in the A&R culture, prompting talent scouts to focus on hit singles and short-term payoffs, rather than looking for pure talent to nurture and develop.

Given this fundamental shift in priorities, one would think that the major label A&R departments today would consist more of studio-experienced, song-driven executives delivering hit-driven talent with the hope of selling more shiny discs, but that is far from the case, ironically enough. As we’ve noted in the past, most major label A&R departments now have one or two seasoned A&R pros at the top, while the rest are low-level, inexperienced scouts, most of whom have never worked on a platinum-selling artist/project. Further, it’s quite evident from recent CMJ reports we received that the acts most label scouts checked out were the typical indier-than-thou talent more suited for, yup, indie labels, not majors.

What’s missing in the executive landscape are the director/senior directors of A&R—pros who have spent their time in the scouting trenches, been involved with the label’s gold and platinum-selling repertoire, developed the professional/political maturity to work an act through the promotion, marketing and sales departments and, most importantly, learned how to balance art and commerce.

That’s not to say there aren’t any mid-level A&R players out there, and the few who remain have definitely stepped it up to stay in the game. But just a few years ago, there were plenty of mid-level execs, primed to sign the right artist for their companies. Obviously, those days are gone, and the business is much the worse for it. A&R continues to be a label’s lifeline, and the failure to invest in executive talent is a big part of what’s wrong with the industry,

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Speaking of CMJ, here’s a list of acts that were on the A&R hit list: the hugely buzzin’ Black Kids, who are not to be confused for the also buzzin’ Cool Kids, hot Kiwi exports Cut Off Your Hands, Wildlight, Dark Veins, Ghostland Observatory, Felice Brothers, Christopher Denny and Brooke Waggoner, among others… Red Light Management player Ron Laffitte picks up Chris Cornell as a client. Meanwhile, rumors are starting to swirl about a potential Soundgarden reunion, which would be huge! Zack and crew reunited for Rage, and DLR rejoined Van Halen, and so anything is possible. We’ll keep you posted… BUZZIN’: Leila Broussard and Lykke Li… Hit me up: [email protected]

BUZZ/GIGS
MORNING BENDERS Mon., Nov. 12, 8:00 p.m., Viper Room, L.A.
THE DEAD TREES Mon., Nov. 19, 8:00 p.m., Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
SAM SPARRO Mon., Nov. 19, 11:00 p.m., Viper Room

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