What Do A&R People Tell Artists?

Ballroom Dancing: SXSW panels

SXSW Live Shots
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What Do A&R People Tell Artists?

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 18 Those who work A&R for major labels may have the toughest job in the music business. Working at the intersection of art and commerce can either be a nightmare or incredibly rewarding, depending on what day it is, and the six men (do women work in A&R?) on the panel represented some of the most successful of the bunch. Led by Rodel Delfin, A&R editor for industry tip sheet Hits Magazine, this was a breezy, at-times-informative conversation that helped make clear how things work behind the scenes between artists and labels these days. The initial focus was on the importance of finding good songs as well as building positive relationships and the myriad ways of accomplishing both goals. Speaking of the dependence on radio and hit singles when looking for songs, Epic's Pete Giberga expressed an interesting need. "The album track has become a curse word in the past few years," he said. "We need to get back to making albums." Strummer Recordings' William Langolf chimed in that "there's always a fine line between artistic vision and delivering that single." Opening the floor to questions led to some good nuts-and-bolts advice on business decisions; the advantages and disadvantages of signing with a major; and what influence an artist's age has on whether or not they attract attention. In the past, this panel has been an ego-driven bore, but this year, with a little levity and intelligence, it was a treat.

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