Categorized | Editorial

Charice Music Industry 101: A&R – Where It All Begins

Charice Music Industry 101: A&R – Where It All Begins

First of all, thank you for all your comments on last week’s article, ‘How Record Labels Operate‘. Yes, it’s true. We can only give you a general crash course on record labels and their ways. The industry itself is infamous for its complexity, so to delve into its depths through more comprehensive articles would probably leave us all hairless!

Record Labels Revealed: A&R – Where It All Begins

This week, we focus on what is the most important record label department of them all, A&R. It would be difficult to exaggerate the significance that A&R has in the industry, since it is with them that the whole industrial process – from artist discovery right through to music legend – begins. Madonna might have remained in obscurity if she hadn’t been signed by Michael Rosenblatt, the Sire Records A&R man who also signed Depeche Mode; Mariah Carey might have continued as a backing singer if it hadn’t been for Tommy Mottola, who also signed Jessica Simpson to Columbia Records.

Madonna’s First Single

Madonna Everybody1 Charice Music Industry 101: A&R   Where It All Begins In 1978, Madonna relocated to New York to pursue her dreams. She said of her move to New York, “It was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, the first time I’d ever gotten a taxi cab. I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.” In October, 1982, music executive Michael Rosenblatt of Sire Records signs Madonna to a one-off deal to record Everybody as a dance single.

A&R is the shortened version of the far more cultured sounding ‘Artists and Repertoire’, but when it comes to the realities of the business, it’s basically the department that signs and nurtures new signings. It’s referred to as ‘The Gatekeeper’ as it is only through A&R that musicians can make it into the music industry. As you can imagine then, A&R personnel attract most of the executive spotlight. They are highly sought after by ambitious hopefuls, loved by those who are accepted and hated by those who are rejected. Make no mistake about it, the pressure on A&R personnel is massive, and the popular notion that their lives are a haze of wild parties and crazy rock concerts is actually very different from the truth. An A&R executive is employed to find new talent, so a record label expects a fresh supply of new marketable acts from them. The search entails a lot of time listening to demo recordings submitted either by colleagues, friends, associates or directly from bands and artists, as well as traveling to gigs in all kinds of small towns and out-of-the-way places. Once upon a time, an A&R executive would have been regularly swamped by hundreds of unsolicited demo tapes each week. These days, unsolicited submissions are no longer accepted (for legal reasons mainly) but executives still deal with hundreds of demos. In the modern era, they also keep a close eye on the internet – the reason why, Charice, for one, can tell you all about. When a signing is made, the A&R department sets about getting all of the other departments working together on a plan to develop the artist’s career. The entire weight of the label’s resources row in behind the new ‘star’ to promote, develop and publicize them, in the hope of creating a new marketing phenomenon. The idea is to get their story in every magazine, their face on every TV channel and their music on every radio station. It all seems great, but the problem is that, once an executive has signed a new band or artist, he is responsible for that artist’s career direction, and their fates are often tied together. While talent is an integral part of success, it is not a guarantee. As one of the industry’s biggest A&R men, Columbia Record’s Tim Devine, once pointed out: “When the history of the music business is written, there are always big chapters on Dylan, Hendrix, Springsteen, Bowie, Sly Stone, Kurt Cobain, etc. An A&R person would give their eye teeth to discover just one of them. However, ‘new and different’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good and marketable’.” So, if the signing fails to make the impact that was expected, then the executive’s career can fall as flat as the band or artist he signed. It means that A&R is where the action is. The drama, the glamor, the success, the failures: everything that is human about the music industry is handled by the A&R department, while the mechanics and finances are handled elsewhere. Next week, we’ll continue this series with a look at the business end of the music industry spectrum. If you want to know how a record label actually makes money from their stable of stars, or how a band or artist gets their first record out, then check it out right here. By Robert Sheen, Charicemania.com

Record Labels Revealed: How Record Labels Operate

Record Labels Revealed 75x75 Charice Music Industry 101: A&R   Where It All Begins In this special series, entitled

‘Charice Music Industry 101′, we’ll take you through the different aspects of an industry regarded as the most competitive in the world. The idea is to educate you on the real music industry and give you a bigger picture >> continue reading

Charice Music Business 101: Music Charts Explained

Music Charts Explained 75x75 Charice Music Industry 101: A&R   Where It All Begins When Charice’s album, ‘Charice’, was released in the US in May this year, it debuted at number 8 in the Billboard 200 – the first time an Asian reached the top 10 as a solo artist. Her single, ‘Pyramid’, meanwhile, topped the Billboard Dance charts >> continue reading

.

18 Responses to “Charice Music Industry 101: A&R – Where It All Begins”

  1. Jianee says:

    So who’s the lucky A&R person who handled Charice? Can anyone kindly tell us? :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. trabihcra says:

    This is quality reading!
    Thank you Mr Sheen …Thank you Charicemania!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. rlf says:
    I am very surprised when i heard PYRAMID playing in my favorite Commercial Center here in the west of France… very nice… the effect is different i feel very proud proud for Charice, okey i hope she’ll soon be guesting in French TV!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Joy Co says:
    Mr. Roberst Sheen, thank you for the insight. I am looking forward to your third installment re music industry in-and-out, hollywood style. You are awesome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. Carol says:

    Still confused????…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  6. idolming says:

    I’ve learned a lot from your article! Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  7. Anna139 says:
    Thanks, again Mr Sheen, for a very informative article

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  8. ArrVee says:
    thanks to Mr.Sheen. As usual, this is all very educational.

    I can imagine one such A&R executive in the middle of one of Charice’s performances in the Philippines before she was “discovered”, and how incredulous he would be that no one else sees the huge Gold Mine that is singing before them and staring them in the face …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  9. Justcharrie says:
    Big thanks again Mr Sheen for the insights. It is a very interesting stuff you’re sharing with us. Can’t wait for the next lecture yey!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  10. hermiemel says:
    Charice has a major role in shaping her career through DF’s help and direction. She is so amazingly talented and versatile that it is so exciting where her own A&R takes her career.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  11. lancecobi says:
    why don’t they try to release her songs “I Love You” and “In Loved so Deep”? these songs have potentials in hitting the airwaves. Reset is already playing in the Philippine airwaves and is in the MYX hit charts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 10

    • Theo says:
      I have a feeling they are totally abandoning all the other songs in her album because doing a music video is quite a feat, though it looks like a simple matter, also probably an expensive feat, especially if self-produced or promoted, if people even do such a thing. I just wished they would at least produce a music video in the Philippines to play at least in Asian airwaves, if not in the USA.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. jn says:
    Learned a lot….thanks for sharing your knowledge about this stuff Mr. Sheen. Will be waiting for your next lesson 101. Thanks and more power to those people who is unselfishly gave time and effort to share their knowledge about music.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  13. Theo says:
    Thank you, Mr. Sheen for the interesting insights you provide…indeed the music business is filled with politics.

    I was wondering if you could provide an insight as to why they did not aggressively promote Charice’s songs in her album. You always hear that no ones buys or listens to power ballads anymore (not that her album is not diversely marketed to all ages), but then again, it appears, aside from Pyramid, that they did not even bother. How do they really know if people are not going to go for this songs? It really appears to be a cop out, yet her songs are famous in Asia and in Japan.

    Charice got famous singing power ballads but that needs to be balanced with some level of originality, and this is out she became famous…why her managers did not capitalize on this I am not sure…did they not have enough clout, maybe? What is the reason that they did not even try?

    Theo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 16

  14. mima says:
    Omg! I cannot even imagine how A&R handled so much emotions…too much drama indeed (i could never be one of them…regular tv drama destroy me ;) hahaha) then again I am thankful for strong hearted persons they are that i get to enjoy the musician i loved…

    Thank You Mr.Sheen ;) it’s so good that the excitement i feel reading it is like when i read twilight books! ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 11

  15. diesel says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 69

    • TinTin says:
      No, she’s not. Glee and Charice are working on the episode where she will be performing. Just wait and see. She will be back soon. Remember Charice was just back from sold out concerts in Asia? Common! Be patient! She has about ten episodes to make in Glee.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 7

  16. Monkeydoggie says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 43

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

Charicemania is considered to be a PG-13 and “family friendly.” When you click on the "Submit Comment" button above, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to our Comments Policy.