48 Laws – The New A&R

So back in the day sometime before MP3s, there existed a person or group of people called Artist & Repertoire (A&R). Their sole purpose was to seek out new musical talent and develop that talent for a record label. In addition, their responsibilities covered a wide range of duties such as, creating a recording schedule, marketing, promoting, etc…

IMG_1977As the digital era opened up the field for aspiring musicians, producers, cat jugglers, and clowns in a Volkswagon, the A&R role was reduced and ultimately downsized as labels found that the playing field had been leveled. Potential artists could be found everywhere you looked. And that’s where we are today!

Facebook, iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, BYO Website, Youtube, Bandsintown, Reddit, Spotify, Twitter, and submitting music to the endless number of music blogs (genre specific), the list goes on and on…

You name it, music and more music is EVERYWHERE!

So with the absence of A&R’s actively seeking and developing talent, with exception to some Indie Labels, three things exist. 1) a consumer hard pressed to find the music they like. 2) labels hard pressed to produce music that competes and is searchable in the market space. 3) artists with little to no experience in all things music industry related.

Number 1 & 2 are dynamic issues in their own right. Number 3 is my concern… Fear not aspiring artist, producer, musician… this post is for you!

48Let me introduce you to the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This is your new A&R. Every aspiring artist, musician, producer, small business owner, brand developer, A&R should read this book.

I won’t go over all the Laws, but basically the book lays down some real insight about how to gain power in your respective field. The key is to read it, then apply that knowledge accordingly. Not all Laws are needed but whatever that looks like will vary depending on your purpose and approach.

It’s said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. It’s true and when you understand the game of supply and demand, how to manipulate scarcity, withdrawing, and timing, you can grow your brand of music and create value in this digital era and stand out from the rest. LAW 16 in Greene’s book goes over this in depth and is comprehensible to the lay person. It doesn’t take a genius or business person to understand and apply this stuff.

For instance, let’s say you’re an “up & coming” Hip Hop MC… Well if you haven’t checked lately, EVERYONE thinks they’re an MC. How do you stand out, create value, or build your rep? If you go the same route as all the others your fate will ultimately be the same. More likely than not you’ll be over looked by decision makers if that’s your goal OR you’ll subconsciously be muted by consumers as they are already inundated with crap they don’t like. End result, washed away with the tide. See ya!

Based on the “absence” idea, the strategic and wise thing to do is, develop your brand quietly (what you write about, what you stand for, your vision), put yourself on a daily regiment of exercise and work, align with those who support your vision, network & create QUALITY product. Here’s the trick and this might seem weird at first… DO NOT PUT YOUR MUSIC/BRAND/IMAGE EVERYWHERE! And please, NO SELFIES!

You’ll get this urge to want to post it everywhere so that you can get that instant satisfaction of knowing that it’s out there. Slowly gaining likes or hearts or whatever the fuck. Don’t do that because that makes your brand and your music weak and easily accessible. Choose a central location that you can control what gets heard and seen. A personal website might be best. Host it on Soundcloud or Bandcamp if funds are low but don’t over expose yourself.

Last but not least, to make all of this work you have to have patience & discipline. This process is long and arduous and if you enter the stage already equipped with these 2 vital components you’re already ahead of the rest. Of course, your music has to be GOOD!

Speaking from experience, I’ve been down the road of squandered ideas and lost opportunities to build power and gain momentum for my brand of music. While I slowly rebuild my brand and music, learning and re-learning, I sit now in a position to inform and educate those who seek change like myself. I’m not in the market to become an A&R but this is where I would start if I was.

Every one of my artists, producers, musicians would be required to read the 48 Laws of Power.

Dig Deeper,