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Author Topic: Contacts at Record Labels...  (Read 10559 times)

Ross Hogarth

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2005, 09:28:09 pm »

but who are you emailing ?
your list is one long string of address's with no source
great, i love flying blind
from the look of your list, i might as well be playing darts with a blindfold
if i can be so bold as to say go for it but take my advice you only get one chance many times with these people
and an email coming out of the blue with no purpose is as good as deleted before it even gets to the server ... be it as it may
What the fuck do i know anyway ? i only do this for a living ....
sorry i tried to help ....
i'll leave you to your own devices
see ya
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wwittman

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2005, 10:14:30 pm »

The one thing you NEVER want to do if it can be avoided is a letter OR email to "Dear sir or madam"... you need to get a NAME, at the very least.

take it for what it's worth, from a former major label A&R weasel... i wouldn't pay any attention to someone who couldn't even bother to find out who I was before he contacted me.
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William Wittman
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George_

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2005, 10:34:01 pm »

ok ok..

then ignore my list..

*shakehands*
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2005, 09:59:18 am »

wwittman wrote on Mon, 25 April 2005 21:14

...take it for what it's worth, from a former major label A&R weasel... i wouldn't pay any attention to someone who couldn't even bother to find out who I was before he contacted me.


A couple questions that people might find your answers to very instructional:

Which would you have acted on first, a tip from some kid behind the counter of a record store that came to you by way of your sales department or the next demo in "the pile" that was addressed to you personally but came from somebody you had never heard of?

What percentage of bands you went to check out were told that you had been there if you decided you weren't interested and the band hadn't been expecting you at the particular gig?

wwittman

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2005, 06:12:34 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Tue, 26 April 2005 09:59

Which would you have acted on first, a tip from some kid behind the counter of a record store that came to you by way of your sales department or the next demo in "the pile" that was addressed to you personally but came from somebody you had never heard of?


Well i was a staff producer FIRST, so not the most active of A&R weasels...
But I was probably AS likely to listen to either.
If someone made contact and convinced me it was something worth hearing, i'd listen.
And I listened to everything that came in to me.

But i didn;t take blind mailings, in part because that was company policy at both labels (RCA and Columbia)

I was actually leery of sales or promo dept. "tips" as they tended more to the generic "what's on the radio NOW" stuff...

But I was always open to one musician mentioning another one to me.
And of course it's great to find it on your own...
which leads to:

Quote:

What percentage of bands you went to check out were told that you had been there if you decided you weren't interested and the band hadn't been expecting you at the particular gig?



I often went to see things that I wasn't sure about and didn't announce my presence or make a big thing out of it.
And if it wasn't for us, I might NOT tell them I was there... unless the manager or someone rang the next day and asked.

The only time I WOULD say something is if it was a near miss that i felt some input might bring closer.

I don't think in general that a band has too much to leaqrn from people who pass on them.. unless a pattern emerges.
Really you want advice from people who GET you, not people who just don't!

The exception is the pattern... such as, 4 different guys say 'love the band and the songs but the singer has to go..." or something equally unanimous.
Which is rare.
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William Wittman
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thomsbrain

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2005, 12:09:52 am »

Is there any point in contacting local A&R reps and inviting them to shows or asking for permission to mail a CD?

On the one hand, there are a lot of small bands out there trying to claw their way up and it seems like it would be good to at least get the band name floating around in their brain, but on the other hand, every time I listen to an A&R guy speak or read something about them, I get the impression they don't want to be hounded and I hear a lot of "don't give us your CD, we won't listen to it, let us find you." Of course I understand the value of having a band big enough that people can't help but notice, but should those of us who have yet to make that kind of noise play "look at me!" or are we just going to alienate themselves as pesky amateurs?

wwittman

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2005, 11:12:41 pm »

There's ALWAYS a point in self-promotion even if it doesn;t work.

It never hurts to send a cd and a press kit and any recent reviews and invite the person down.
You never know.

I'm not on the whole terribly enthusiastic about the current state of A&R.
Far too trend and attorney and marketing driven.

The list of MAJOR important, world changing, influential artistes who could never get signed if they were new today would be a long, sad one.
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William Wittman
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rdwilkins

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2005, 09:27:26 am »

Have seen this one from both sides.  When I was an agent I would get tons of press kits and most were from people putting the cart before the horse.  When I did my first good demo with a well-known producer I sent it out to specific contacts I had met at various functions. And even some of those were returned "unsolicited". If you're just trying to get a record contract then put out an album yourself and sell it. Learn how to write a press release surrounding gigs as well as any news about the act (adds to radio, new album etc).  Order a media guide (possible "Bacon's" is still the one to use)of some sort and fax said release to radio, print and TV in markets where your band is playing.  If you're at all "alternative" (whatever that means these days...) try to get interview/live-in-studio-performance day of show on college/public-supported station. You can forget commercial FM stations for the most part but still send them that fax. Also start out regionally.  Chances are your band is not going to be able to go out on tour for weeks at a time if you're all working day gigs still.  Start with your hometown then find 3 or 4 other nearby towns and always have CDs to sell at your gigs.  

When you've got between 5k-10k cds sold then approach a record company if they haven't already approached you.  If you don't have this "base" then you have no bargaining power. This may all seem oversimplified but it does work.  

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gtoledo3

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2005, 10:55:26 am »

I think this is a good idea, at the heart of it, but definitely frocked with potential disaster, heheh....


As a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, I was brought up in a world where live performance is key.

I am sure who I am going to mention is obscure, but a very close friend of my family's is Mike Pinera (Ride Captain Ride, Blues Image, Iron Butterfly, Alice Copper, etc.).

Growing up, and seeing that guy perform....he is a monster! Crazy, but a great performer.

It was always kind of imprinted in my mind, that at the end of the day, it is live performance that is king. But, the older I get I wonder if it is really that way anymore. I know it SHOULD be that way!

I think that the labels don't put enough stock in seeing a band perform live. If it can be edited together and seems trendy, then that is good enough.

I wonder- if a tape with Dylan was sent in to the execs, would they even bother to check it out?

I think that nowdays the only real answer is to network as much as you can, and try to get as much feedback as possible. Six degrees of seperation and all that jive!
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rdwilkins

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2005, 08:41:40 am »

And even in the case of Dylan, remember he was known as "Hammond's Folly" (referring to A&R man John Hammond) until he started to sell records which wasn't really until his 2nd album. And the label had little to do with that.  Dylan had cemented his reputation through his live gigs.  

This is also something to be aware of when dealing with any label, major or indy.  Even if they are bankrolling your album production(unless it was already in the can and it's maybe just a licensing deal) and then providing pressing and distribution, someone's still gotta sell the album. One of my clients was on Geffen and had two incredibly well-received albums.  Both made all sorts of critic's top ten lists and fans were made by these critic's reviews. But when it came time to duplicate the sounds of these albums on the road the label offered little to no tour support and finally stopped actively promoting him with the third album.  I had to midwife many publicity efforts as they had basically dropped the ball in that direction.  Even getting promo cassettes and cds was like pulling teeth.  I finally started effectively becoming a publicist but it was a great lesson.
Anyway, I'm rambling here but basically I think you can have a contact at a record company who loves your band and then signs you and gives you 5k or 500k and even gets the rec. co. to spring for a video but if the rest of the team at the rec.co. is not totally behind the release and the artist is not performing live in key markets and doing lots of radio and print interviews etc, nothing (usually) is going to happen.  Even if all those things are in place the odds are still against you. I'm not even including someone specifically working to get P.D.s to add songs to playlists, someone merchandising at local record stores (if still applicable-we only have one store in Savannah that would still hang posters...unreal)and a host of other things that should be done.  Try finding a good booking agent and manager.

I think a grass roots approach like I mentioned before is the safest and sanest way to go.  What's ironic is it's not really that different a game than it was in the U.S. in the 1950s.  The radio part of it has changed.  There is too much homogeneity due to people like Clear Channel but there's college and public-supported stations that, while not operating unfettered either, will sometimes still take a chance on a new, unknown act.

So driving around in a van with a bunch of copies of your cd and advancing the gigs as much as possible will slowly grow your fan base.  Hell, ask R.E.M., and also note how "calmly" they have operated throughout their career.  They've always had control of the direction they went in.  But they started out extremely small in terms of fanbase, gigs, radio play, etc.  They didn't just call Warner Bros or MCA and ask them to sign them.  When it came time for R.E.M. to get signed to a major, the labels were all lining up.  



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rdwilkins

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2005, 02:58:04 am »

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jackthebear

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Re: Contacts at Record Labels...
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2005, 06:25:59 am »

wwittman wrote on Fri, 06 May 2005 13:12



I'm not on the whole terribly enthusiastic about the current state of A&R.
Far too trend and attorney and marketing driven.



Ain't that the truth!!

Not wanting to sound like an old WWII veteran but I remember back in '86 in my old CBS days meeting an A&R cat named John Mervros ( I think that's how you spelt it).
Anyway he was VP of A&R for Columbia NYC.

He was a guy who embodied what I thought made A&R great.

He had a PASSION for music.
He had VISION.
He was PRO-ACTIVE.
He'd be at gigs at least 5 nights a week.
He had his finger on the pulse.
He knew an RE-20 from an SM-57.
He had some knowledge of recording and studios in general.
He had great broad knowledge of music in many genres.
He was a TOP bloke.
He could party pretty hardy.

Sure there are other traits a good A&R rep should possess but these days I refer to most of them as UM & AH guys.

On the idea of a list....I think it can be a good resource.
You gotta be in it to win it but it's the way you approach the labels that will ultimately open the door for you. Then you gotta cut the mustard between the cheese.

It's better to say you're "sorry you did it" than "I wish I had".

Hey J. Hall I think this is my first foray into your forum so please forgive me for polluting it....
Very Happy

Cheers,
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Tony "Jack the Bear" Mantz
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