What Are A&R Execs Looking For?

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April 10, 2018

The Association of Independent Music Publishers Nashville AIMP welcomed a trio of top A&R execs for a discussion on the challenges in the artist development landscape and today’s A&R process. The event, included comments from Cris Lacy (Warner), Taylor Lindsey (Sony), and Stephanie Wright (Universal)

and was moderated by AIMP Board member Tim Hunze.

What is the best advice you gave to up-and-coming artists who want to get signed to a record label…

Taylor Lindsey, Sony A&R

It’s so hard to answer this question because each artist is so different…It’s more about coming in and being confident about who you are. It’s less about social media numbers,  knowing the type of music you want to release, we can help you with all of that…It’s more about not being scared to be yourself.

Cris Lacy, Warner Music Group A&R

Someone once asked Kenny Rogers what makes an artist successful.  He said, “Look there’s Kenny Rogers the husband, there’s Kenny Rogers the friend, there’s Kenny Rogers the Dad, and there is Kenny Rogers The Artist. I’ve found that the closer that all four of those things are to one another, the better it works.”

Blake Shelton became most successful when he was his irreverent self. Cole Swindell that you hear on the radio is the same Cole Swindell that you’ll go have a beer with. I think sometimes you don’t know that you are not that person. But we can feel it. Like you haven’t quite figured it out yet. It’s something that can be observed from the outside.

Just remember the whole thing is a process. Sometimes it’s age and maturity. It’s a 10-year town for a reason. It takes 10 years to figure this stuff out. So don’t take this as a negative. Take it as positive.

Tim Hunze, Parallel Music

Once we were signing an artist, my mentor was sold, but I just wasn’t. He said, ”I just believe they have something to say, stories to tell, it’s [all] in there.” I use this a lot.

Stephanie Wright, Universal A&R

If you look at some of the superstars like Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Kacey Musgrave, the way they live, the songs they sing about, are very transparent.

I think as a young artist or anybody in this business, you have to have thick skin. You have to be able to take criticism, have confidence in who you are, but also trust the people around you that help you with your career. Be able to listen.

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