Renowned music industry executive Tom Sturges literally wrote the book on creativity. In his most recent work, Every Idea Is A Good Idea, he explores the two primary types of creativity- individual and collaborative. While the book is a must-read no matter what you do, filled with excellent advice and exercises to help anyone find their creative center and learn to access it more efficiently, many of us work with artists every day in a non-creative capacity. We followed up with him to find out a little more about how to have a successful relationship with truly creative people, and see what creative turns he has taken to end up where he is today.
In the book Every Idea Is A Good Idea you talk about how deeply personal the creative process is, and how it shouldn’t really be discussed. When you said that a one-hit wonder will go on and on about how a song just came to them, I laughed out loud. We all know those guys. Can you give me a few questions one can ask to get a good read on whether or not a new artist is really tuned in to their creative center? Or is producing material the only way to really know?
True artistry is very genuine, and very truthful in its presentation. And you know the truth when you see, and more importantly, hear it. In a strange way, it’s almost as if the performer doesn’t really care if anyone is listening or not, as if he or she is so in tune with their own music and art that the presence of a witness is insignificant. Picasso could not tell you how he painted, but he could tell you how empty his life would be without his art.
So the questions to ask a new artist would relate to their inspirations, their artistry, their big dream, their favorite song that has ever been written (not their own, I hope), what they were like in high school, and that kind of thing. Come at them from the perspective of complete respect and see how they respond.
You have worked with a lot of very extremely creative people and in your book you share one particular story about an encounter you had early in your career with Carole King. You have picked up a lot of wisdom about creativity itself, but what can you share regarding what you’ve learned about working with creative people, from the business end of things?
Between an artist and the record, there are several intermediaries, including the producer, engineer, mastering engineer, mixer, a&r, etc. Between the songwriter and the song there is no one. When working with artists, the music is almost like a third person in the room, probably because it required so many others to successfully create it. When working with the writer and talking about the song, you might as well be talking about a family member.
The bottom line is that one must be completely respectful of a creator’s art, and allow plenty of room for ego and dreams to co-exist with the vocal, instrumentation, the lyrics and melodies. But, before sharing an opinion with someone about their work, find out if it’s the FINAL version, i.e., cannot be changed no matter what versus a DRAFT, i.e., still a work in progress. If it’s the latter, feel free to say whatever you like. But if it’s the former, pay a compliment relative to your view of the work and say no more.
What do you think it takes to have a successful working relationship with an extremely creative person when you’re not really a collaborator?
If you are working with someone and you are not a collaborator, you need to pick the role you intend to play. Possibly you are the sounding board (listen to all ideas and offer comments and suggestions), the enabler/facilitator (organizer of studio time and finder of musicians, but with no “creative” role to play), or the fan (who loves everything, no matter what). The thing I find most creators need most is believers. So if you cannot be any of the three above, just believe. CONTINUE READING
Taylor Swift “Blank Space” 41,000 downloads
Hozier “Take Me To Church” 30,000 downloads
Mark Ronson “Uptown Funk” 27,000 downloads
Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud” 24,000 downloads
Meghan Trainor “Lips Are Movin” 17k downloads
Marina and The Diamonds “Happy” 13k
Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” 12k
Sam Smith “Im Not The Only One” 11k
The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers “Come Join The Murder” 10k
Meghan Trainor “All About The Bass” 10k
Taylor Swift “Blank Space” 42,259 downloads
Mark Ronson “Uptown Funk” 25,293 downloads
James Newton Howard “The Hanging Tree” 24,251
Ed Sheeran “Make It Rain” 24,251
Hozier “Take Me To Church” 21,780
Meghan Trainor “Lips Are Movin” 16,688
Pentantonix “Mary, Did you Know” 9,012
Maroon 5 “Animals” 8,832
Fallout Boy “Centuries” 7,475
Do you remember when Hollywood movies introduced new songs? It happened this week with the new track “The Hanging Tree” which is sung by actress Jennifer Lawrence and appears on the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” . The track has landed at No. 2 on the American iTunes pop single chart.
The song was written by The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins and the indie band The Lumineers.
According to sources Jennifer didn’t love the idea of singing.
“ The film’s director, Francis Lawrence, recently told Vulture that the actress was extremely anxious about singing the song on set for a pivotal scene in the movie. “
“I knew she didn’t love the idea of singing, but I didn’t realize how nervous she was until when we started the first take, and she was in tears. Not totally broken down, but she was unhappy,” he says. “She would have much rather we used somebody else’s voice. I think she said she wanted Lorde [who sings the movie’s theme song] to do it!”
Kings of A&R has officially launched our Top 8 Emerging Artist Campaign which will be announced on January 10th. Kings of A&R top 8 emerging artists have landed on the iTunes charts, syncs, and major press coverage. To submit music for consideration click here..
The past top 8 emerging artists are below which were featured in September.
Emmy Bachmann – Stranger
Kit Walters – Your Ghost
Colin Huntley – Best I Never Had
The Silent Scene – Collecting Hearts
Sydney Leigh – Crazy Beautiful
The Crazy Carls – Let Me
Colour of London – Heart Attack
Justin Klump – The Night is Young
Emmy Bachmann is a brand new artist on the scene yet has already been dubbed a blond bombshell singer-songwriter by PopWrapped. Our favorite tracks are I Don’t Love Him and Rescue Yourself. Kit Walters has released a new song along with a video Your Ghost. He will release an EP and will headline a show in The Studio at Webster Hall, Sunday September 21st. Colin Huntley is an emerging singer/songwriter & guitarist based in Austin, TX. The video for his single Best I Never Had has already garnered 315,000 YouTube streams. The Silent Scene is on the verge of a breakthrough. The track Collecting Hearts is our favorite and they were also featured on iTunes New & Noteworthy. Sydney has self released her debut EP “Crazy Beautiful”. Sydney Leigh wrote and recorded with Nolan Lambroza (Sir Nolan), Steve Daly (Tracklacers) and Heidi Rojas. The Crazy Carls are making a splash on the scene. The band headlined Florida Music Festival in Orlando with Less Than Jake and Dirty Heads, and were featured on Sunfest with Train, Big Sean, and Ellie Goulding. Colour of London has released a new track “Heart Attack“, and they have partnered with lifestyle brand, Alex and Ani, who featured their music in commercials and stores around the globe. Finally, Justin Kump, the singer-songwriter has begun to make a mark. His album debuted on the U.S. iTunes Singer-Songwriter Chart earning him solid press, and Sirius XM invited him to perform on at their studios in NYC. Check out his track The Night is Young.