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Back to Square One- The Lack Of IndicatorsBack to Square One – The Lack of Indicators.

Check out KOAR’s article we posted earlier this year regarding ‘indicators.’

As previously discussed, the 2004 to present music game has been mainly about numbers. Especially when dealing with unsigned artists and A&R, in many cases a band’s worth has been measured by their stats, ranging from MySpace friends to page views to an overhyped show and radio translating to record sales. However, as our society becomes more technologically ‘with it’ we find some of the top rated unsigned bands on MySpace are among the worst out there. Anybody can purchase a spamming program. We raised the question sarcastically before, but feel it is time for a serious answer. Today, the A&R is left with little to no indicators. The internet exploded and forget about radio. Without relying on indicators like statistics how is anyone supposed to know if a band is worthy? good? or great?

Anthony Rollo A&R at Universal tells KOAR:

 “It used to be much easier to correlate airplay and retail reaction.  Less and less people are going into record stores, making it much more difficult to guage the marketplace. On the Rock side of things, the Rock radio stations just do not hold the same influence over the consumer that they once did.  Getting a read on an Urban or Pop record is easier than trying to guage the impact of a Modern or Active track. With more indie shops closing everyday, the research resources on the retail side are dwindling.  It’s tough to get a read on a local artist from a Best Buy or Wal-Mart.”

Relying on a bunch of kids to tell you what the public wants has proven fruitless. Buying into hype and fads has proven to not only be a waste of time, but has given labels a black mark with the record buying public. “Listening to the market and trying to see which ones raise their heads� is, again, burning up the precious little resources labels have anymore. Overall, let’s say that outsourcing your opinions is a bad thing.

Good ear: adjective. The natural ability to predict the potential success of a given song or artist. Ability to identify ‘hits.’

Once upon a time, A&R guys were the ones with the good ears. They could hear a band or a song and could predict the success of that act. Today, they fly out to see bands because they have high MySpace numbers. They weren’t buying into the hype, because they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to go to the streets and ask kids who to sign. They were hired specifically to know who should be signed and who shouldn’t. If that’s who labels are going to for advice, why not just cut out the middle man and hire a staff of teenagers? In reality, teenagers don’t know what’s going on other than their ‘small universe.’ Rememer, Teenagers are in highschool learning about George Washington.

We’re aware that it’s slim pickins when it comes to brilliant unsigned music, but there is no reason why any A&R executive should say, “there are more and more records on our release schedule that don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.� Some of this failure can be attributed to poor marketing strategies, but most can be attributed to the band not deserving to be signed in the first place. Relying on indicators to tell you what is good will always fail you. You’ve got to have the ears.

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