In front of a packed ballroom in the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, Tess Taylor, President of NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals), led a panel discussion entitled “A&R Think Tank: New Realities of Finding New Recording Artists.”
On the panel with Taylor were Sat Bisla of A&R Worldwide, Jeff Blue of RCA Music Group, Ritch Esra of the Music Business Registry, and Perry Watts-Russell of Warner Bros. Records.
While acknowledging the setbacks suffered by the record industry, the panelists were unanimous about the ultimately positive results that are on the horizon for music lovers, artists, and record companies.
Among their comments:
Ritch Esra: We’ll see many more small firms selling smaller numbers of records each for an increase in total sales.
Sat Bisla: Finding new talent is, in many ways, easier now because there are a lot of avenues for music to be heard. College radio, Internet distribution, satellite radio, and the iPod.
Esra: There are fewer major label signings, but the labels are more committed to the artists they sign. Ironically, this has opened the door to thousands of independent artists and indie labels.
Jeff Blue: I’m always concerned with this: is the artist amazing? That’s when you can commit to working with them.
Perry Watts-Russell: There is an audience for all that is not homogenized, formularized and corporate. There are many listeners who are interested in the truthfulness of the act.
Bisla: The art of A&R has diminished in recent years. Fewer A&R people know a great deal about producing, marketing, songwriting, song selection, performance, or radio.
Watts-Russell: I think the most important thing is to sign better artists.
Bisla: The best methodology [for artist contracts] lies in structuring partnership agreements, with thresholds for payment at each level of achievement. By working together, each side of the partnership stands to gain more.
Esra: Each of us can name artists who have sold significant numbers of albums, and even gone gold and platinum, but whose names are not generally recognized except by the segment of the market that responds to their music.
Blue: The future will be great. There is so much more access to every genre of music, so many more ways to get and hear music. People are going to be influenced by types of music they never thought they’d get to hear.
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About Scott G:
Owner of G-Man Music & Radical Radio and a recording artist on Delvian Records, G’s music is heard in clubs around the world and on commercials for Verizon Wireless, Goodrich, Micron, NASSCO, Sutter Health, the Auto Club and many more.
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