Centricity Blog

Development Is Not Dead

Posted August 5, 2010 by in A&R, Booking, Management, Radio, Songwriting, Touring

Over the past years it’s been said that music companies don’t develop artists anymore. That record labels don’t have the time, energy or money to invest into something that one day could be great. Some would argue that with the state of our industry still in flux, somehow the art of ‘development’ has been lost, … (or displaced.) And while there is some truth to the idea that artists/bands with some form of career already in place are generally more intriguing to labels, development’ is still alive, (at least at Centricity.)

Though my responsibilities in A&R vary day by day,  I’m fortunate to say that development is something that continues to be something that’s encouraged by the leaders of our company. Whether it’s to develop an idea, or an artist or group we’re continually looking for or working with what we feel ultimately has mass appeal, … investing in the future of artistry.

That having been said, … I’ve been working on an idea since the start of the year that I’m very excited about. It’s development on every level. Unfortunately it’s still a little too soon to divulge the details of what it is but let’s just say it’s a creative endeavor that’s had me busy with a lot of :

* Listening * Meeting * Planning * Recording and * Looking

As things progress I look forward to filling in the blanks as to what each category above means. For now, .. I can say that this process is something I truly enjoy. To be involved on all levels of the creative process is where I feel like I’m able to give the most of me, … and the best of me.

Of course with development comes many hurdles, and ultimately after all is said and done you have to trust your instincts with what you’ve believed in and give something a shot. There’s always a fine line between overseeing and steering something towards what you feel is the best direction for something, and then having to let go and trust that what you’ve believed to be true from the beginning is ready to test the waters. In the end all you can hope for is that there’s a connection between the artist and the audience. And yes, … art and commerce.

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. Jennifer Grassman said

    That’s awesome Guy! It’s great to hear that inspiration is still alive and thriving at Centricity! It does seem (perhaps superficially) that many of the larger labels are sticking to acts like Lady Gaga, the Jonas Brothers, Beyonce, etc. and not trying anything new, innovative, or revolutionary. It’s been a long time since a major label took on a truly creative nobody and made them a somebody without changing their sound and/or persona to fit a mold that they know – based on a myriad of experiences past – will $ell. It almost seems that the major labels have gone the way of the fast food chains; everything is prefab and tastes pretty much the same, they just change the name and the wrapper every now and then … and maybe mix up a few ingredients between their other prefab sandwiches. One wonders whether The Beatles would have gotten snapped up as quickly if they’d come along today! The economy (IMO) also makes labels in general more wary of signing new untested acts. I think they want acts who they can guarantee will make them the big bucks … and that’s not all bad (you can’t begrudge them having business sense) … unless you’re an artist like me who isn’t cookie-cutter or a millionaire. Then it’s frustrating! My dream is to have some A&R / manager listen to my music and say, “Dang! I like this, and if I like it, millions of other people will too.” It’s that fundamental belief and faith that so many “indie” artists need to make their music careers soar. It’s almost impossible to do it on your own.

  2. Alastair said

    Yeah, I’ve been hearing that now for a few years, that labels are only picking up artists with large followings already. I have seen it also with recent artists who independently release albums, only then to be picked up by the label and have their album re-released.

    I’m glad to hear you guys still believe that there is rewards to be had in finding talent and developing it. I look forward to hearing you define a little more what you touched on above.

    Alastair.

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