Centricity Blog

5 things that attract me to an artist (part 2)

Posted February 25, 2010 by in A&R


So you just came out of the studio with a new project you’re really excited about. You spent months writing and recording, the packaging is complete and your first shipment of 1,000 CD’s just arrived at your door. I know for most artists this is a huge moment in your career. You spent good money, time and energy creating something that represents you as an artist. You’ve arrived, … your ready do it, make it happen, … introduce yourself to the world and start growing a fan base. While this step is all too familiar for many artists, the excitement and anticipation of sharing your music is quickly met with the daunting task of booking dates and getting in front of people. (Oh how quickly excitement can turn into frustration and wonderment?)

In going through demo submissions there are typically a couple different processes that we typically work through as we listen. Here’s the breakdown of our process thus far:

1. Listen to a few tunes from each artist. (This brings us back to my first post on this topic, music. It all starts with great music so realize that your first opportunity to make a great long lasting first impression starts with the music.)

2. Click on a myspace profile to check for upcoming dates on the calendar.

Seeing a lot of dates on a calendar says as much about the artist as high quality music does. Without even hearing a note of music it shows me that you have a work ethic that goes beyond just the creative realm. It shows that you know how to promote yourself, .. that you want it bad enough your currently making it happen without the assistance of a third party. It shows that have vision for who you are, … it shows that you have a commodity, a voice, a calling to share something with an audience that is willing to listen. Since the value of a CD is greatly devalued before it’s even made and is pretty much seen as a promotional piece for booking your live gigs, … then it’s crucial that an artist is playing out. (Actually booking dates is a whole other topic that can perhaps be discussed in another post, … but for now it needs to be understood that any music company needs to know that an artist has a career in motion already, that they can then partner with and help grow.) To simply ‘jumpstart’ a career based solely on music alone is a broken model. The risk is too high in regards to the time, energy and money spent on working with an artist to just hope for the best based the making of a great record.

Ironically, …. this is where the ‘catch 22′ comes into play. It’s one of those unwritten rules I can’t explain, but for some reason, average music or shall I say music that originally didn’t connect with me on an emotional or commercial level, somehow sounds much better when I see a lot dates on a calendar. The ability to imagine ‘what could be’, … or to hear the potential in music that could be developed into something that as a broader appeal somehow is heard much more audibly when coupled with a lot of activity in the touring world. My interest in pursuing an artist can be influenced greatly by the amount of touring activity. (That being said, … see part 1 again.) Ultimately your career depends on YOU and your ability to put YOUR career in motion. Whether or not a music company comes along side what you’re doing is irrelevant. Dates are a necessity in order to have a career, … otherwise I suggest continue living in a recording realm just creating music and selling it online somehow.

About The Author: Guy Zabka

Guy Zabka provides the eye candy at the Centricity offices. Also, Guy is the label's A&R director, helping their artists hone their songwriting and craft them into successful recordings. He's a songwriter himself, with songs recorded by Natalie Grant, Brian Littrell, Joy Williams, and Kenny Rogers. Guy also composed the score for the Academy Award nominated short film, Most. He devotes his spare time to his wife and their three genetically-blessed children, and to fine-tuning his Amazing Race tryout video.

  1. Bev Herrema said

    Guy – Couldn’t help but think about how much of what you just wrote is true for songwriters too. Staying “in motion” if you know what I mean. Thanks for the post!

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