I suppose it goes without saying that the question we get asked the most, at least in the A&R department, is “how do I get signed?”, or “what are you guys looking for?”.
As the music biz continues to change, the answer to this question seems to change right along with it. However, in an attempt to answer as honestly as I know how, I thought I’d take a stab at it so you’d know where we stand, at least for today.
What we want
In order to truly make a mark on our time and culture, we want to sign profoundly creative people. People who possess incredible musical gifting and who weave their passion and vision for their work into every song and performance. People who are uniquely gifted in such a way as to impact millions with their work for generations to come because it stands the test of time. People who write, record, and perform songs that dig deep into our souls and create work that challenges, encourages, stirs, provokes and edifies. People who are concerned and curious about all that they see and experience, and who process those things into music that somehow leaves the listener different… forever. We’re looking for artists. That’s what we want.
What we need.
In order to even begin to create some exposure for an artist among the staggering number of artists and bands on the landscape, we need to sign people who are willing to work really hard. Who, way before we ever meet them, have been laboring to build a following. Who care about what kind of music the public wants and is trying to deliver it to them. Who are disciplined, organized, self-starters and who spend time booking dates and doing whatever it takes to get out in front of absolutely as many people as possible. People who spend tons of time on the internet posting blogs, videos, replying to messages, facebooking, twittering, et al. People who are constantly networking, relating, asking for references and connecting people who might help their music get exposure. We’re looking for workers. That’s what we need.
What’s the problem?
The heart of the artist and the heart of the worker are rarely found in the same person. Sure, most artists have some portion of the worker in them, and most of the workers have a creative streak, but in general, the wiring is completely different. To the artist, the worker can appear to be nothing more than a puppet salesperson. A sellout. To the worker, the artist can come across as the hopeless dreamer who gets nothing done and only cares about his or her own self-expresion. A slacker.
What we want and what we need.
So back to the question. What are you guys looking for? Well, we’re looking for an artist or band who represents what we want, and what we need. With signings like this, we provide the greatest opportunity to expose music that has life-changing potential, and that provides the revenue required for us to continue doing business. Both are incredibly important to us.
Maybe this is why we actually sign so few artists and bands. It’s certainly not for a shortage of them, but more a shortage of them that are willing to embrace the conflicted life of both the artist and the worker.