Title: Creating The Right Impression For A&R

  1. Wednesday, May 9, 2012 10:48:02 AM
    Richard Rogers
    Hi All, I've noticed lately that some promotion packages going into record companies in the UK have been of a dreadful quality. CDs being sent without any form of packaging has always been fairly common but surely in todays age it is easy for someone to create a sleeve and a little bit of packaging that looks halfway decent. After all it is the 21st century. How important is the packaging and the package itself? Well firstly it should go without saying that the music should always come first. No doubt about that. However my personal feeling is that if a demo package from an artist or songwriter comes through with no covering letter or CD sleeve and instead a CD (sometimes labelled, sometimes not) comes through to an A&R office with only a tatty piece of paper then it almost feels that the artist doesn't really care past the music. OK you could argue that it is for the A&R person to see past that tatty piece of paper and see the potential in the music which would be a very valid point. Having said that if an A&R person sitting at his or her desk receives two packages, one with a good sleeve, decent letter, couple of photographs and short and snappy biography with good information throughout the package and another artist sends through an unlabelled CD with no information and just a piece of paper with a telephone number and nothing else then what which demo package would you listen to first? Creating the right impression for the A&R person and department is of tantamount importance surely? I'd be interested in your thoughts on this whether you agree or disagree as an artist, songwriter, musician, manager or whether you have a view on this at all? Should the packaging matter? Should the A&R see past the packaging? Why would an artist send such an amateurish package? Let me know. Richard
  2. Wednesday, May 9, 2012 6:51:55 PM
    Jay Nichols
    Hi Richard! Love this topic, and one I was just discussing with a very well-known manager in the country genre. Anything sent to the label represents the brand of the artist, and in my opinion needs to be of the highest quality possible. Like you somewhat referenced, today's technologies allow for most graphical pieces to be done inexpensively, quickly, and at home if need be and SHOULD be of the highest quality. Agreed, that it's all about the music but the same principal applies to any job interview out there, regardless of industry. You wear your best suit to represent your brand, and it's all part of the total package. First impressions are everything! To answer your questions: The packaging SHOULDN'T matter theoretically, but it shows effort and the drive to be as successful as possible A&R should see past the packaging, but they are human after all.... Many reasons are out there for an artist to send generic packaging; of course on the forefront of my mind is cost and/or skill in developing graphics/photography. Thanks for listening; love the group!
  3. Wednesday, May 9, 2012 8:37:09 PM
    Femi Lawal
    Nice article Richard,My name is Femi Lawal Co-founder of Mega Points International (Africa's First Independent A&R/Promotion Company).I have been an A&R Executive for years and reading through your article i quite agreed with you on the points lay out in the article. The issue about the question if packaging matter or not, is packaging really count and i will give you the reason why i said so. Before that let me quickly say in another word that regarding the second question that; Should the A&R see past the packaging? Yes i agreed to this also and i will also give words on that. Now to the first question. Packaging really matter because it gives good impression and make one as an A&R executive to give the package a chance by listening to it. It also show the brand and professionalism insight of the artist. This is one thing artists should know it's beyond your good music. See your self as a brand and a brand without good packaging can't be marketable. Aside from music sales, artist's personality as a brand matters and it begins with self discipline. Let me stop there on that for now and on the second question; A&R executives can see past the packaging by giving the submission a listening opportunity but when you have many submissions to attend to it will be heard cause submissions without good package gives bad impression.So the only way to go round this is by attending to submission according to how they are submitted and this i must say is up to the A&R person in talk. For me it can work that way if i decide i don't want to care about the packaging but the content on the CD.But it's very difficult to come to such conclusion.
  4. Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:46:32 AM
    Allan Lines
    I think it goes without saying,what ever business your involved with its always best to be profesional.
  5. Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:58:53 AM
    Antionette Cronje
    My viewpoint on this is as follows: When shopping for a specific product and there are numerous brands of the same product on the shelf, one's attention is first drawn to the most attractive and appealing product. Very seldom the contents of this beautifully package is of an inferior quality. Now, I've found it to be the same in the music industry. I'd say about 80 % of the submissions received, the shabby looking CD's content is not that great either. I have yet to receive a submission, looking shabby, but containing great tracks. I have to agree with Richard, with the high quality desktop colour printers and photopapers available it is so cheap to print a decent cd cover and insert. My final point on this is, an artist wants a record label to spend millions on them, so why send them a cd looking like "we're not prepared to invest in ourselves". Antionette Cronje - RedRoom Records (South Africa)
  6. Thursday, June 14, 2012 1:04:05 PM
    Brian Baxter
    I agree that packaging can be an important part of the process when a buyer makes his or her decision on whether to pony up a few scheckles, that being said I have been the victim of a slick presentation, only to be wholly disappointed in the tracks. In this economy it's hard for a lot of artists to afford that slick look on a 40 oz budget. Really anyone who claims they are in it not only for the cash, but for the thrash, i.e. "The Music" should take the time to do "Proper Diligence" with any submission, you might find a diamond in the rough, so to speak, plus, like the pay-to-play fiasco that still makes the L.A. scene stink, only the Rich Kid Bands will be accepted by us rocket scientists, behind the iron curtain.
  7. Tuesday, August 7, 2012 2:01:18 PM
    Richard Rogers
    Some great replies here but it appears that in general most people do agree that packaging is important and should be of the best quality as is possible and as mentioned to buy a colour printer is inexpensive these days. A lot of the record companies think that poor presentation is lazy in this day and age and it's been wonderful to hear your commentaries on the 'brand' situation. i.e. that bands are brands at whatever level or stage of the music business they are in. Yet I write this today as I picked up my demos from the local post office and received 5 today, four of the demos just appallingly bad and one more than fine. Guess which one i listened to first? Music wasn't bad either..... Look at this comment from Jay Nichols 'Anything sent to the label represents the brand of the artist, and in my opinion needs to be of the highest quality possible'. Absolutely spot on. Another from Femi Lawal 'a good package shows the brand and professionalism insight of the artist. This is one thing artists should know it's beyond your good music. See your self as a brand and a brand without good packaging can't be marketable'. In essence putting together a good quality package can be inexpensive and should really be common sense because at the end of the day those artists really making the effort in all areas of their music promotion are in the main going to stand a much better chance of getting signed up to a record company.
  8. Wednesday, August 8, 2012 3:25:32 PM
    Jay Nichols
    Richard, thanks for agreeing with my comment on that. I truly believe it has to be well-thought and of the highest quality. Maybe we can continue the post and take comments from people as to what their impression of "high quality and professional" is. To me, it's the following: An envelope, sized appropriately arrives. It has been neatly labeled with the correct name, title, and address along with an appropriate return address. This may help to trigger previous correspondence. The envelope opens easily, contains a letter, a picture and neatly labeled demos on CD (I've received some on a flash drive). The picture is good enough to have me reaching for the one-page letter. A 30-second scan through informs me of the band's name, fills me in on their major biographical details and musical influences. It should also contain some quotes from local industry ears (possibly radio DJ's). Then, impressed at the effort that appears to have gone into their presentation, I listen. It is important that you pay attention to detail! The vital ingredient in any demo package is information about you and your music. If nothing else, make sure that absolutely everything in that envelope has your name and contact details on it. However, try to provide concise biographical information, a picture and some description of your music — the person holding your demo recording needs to know not only that you are offering them something in which they might be interested, but also that you have been savvy enough to do some research. And, of course, don't forget to tell them exactly what it is you might want from them! Finally, the magic ingredient is an element of intrigue which will prompt the recipient to reach for that CD. The A&R person not only wonders what sort of music comes in such a professional-looking package, but also how you'll combine your particular set of musical influences and whether you sound as stylish as you look in the photo. Only once you've convinced someone to actually listen to your demo, can you finally let your music do the talking. What about others? Has there been anything that has caught your eye "out of the ordinary"? For artists, have you done something different that has gotten you exposure?
  9. Wednesday, August 8, 2012 4:36:03 PM
    Bernhard Faaß
    hy everybody, i absolutely agree, that it is a bit strange, if someone sends you a promotion pack that gives you the impression, that there is just no enthsuiasm at all. especially missing contact info is something that truely doesn´t help ;-) makes me also wonder, if the artist knows, where he actually lives. or is he out of space lacking telecommunication ? there must be a difference between being an artist or being lost. BUT on the other hand i am very convinced that expectation by lots of A&Rs became far out of reach of newcomers and artists, because they seem to demand almost professional productions as demos, high class pictures and fully designed profile etc pp. all this costs a lot of money , which the artist doesn´t have. it even costs time, which the artist should put in the creation of his art. isn´t the production part of the producer, doesn´t it come after being interested into the artist. hardly there is an artist profile totally finished, which the company will just use as it is, without change. i wouldnt want to see they paied a high profile photographer, grafic designer or tell me they have been to california in that same studio, where the stones recorded bla bla. yes, we look for somethng "out of the ordinary". but then everybody now wants to be o o t o. isn´t that boring ? finally it is the old story about being authentic. be true. show yourself. yes, do it the best way you can, but don´t worry about the high gloss. we ad that later, if necessary. and right, please ask your friend who didn´t make it into rock n roll but offers his office routine to check, if you got all the information straight , thanks :-)
  10. Wednesday, August 8, 2012 6:09:18 PM
    Richard Rogers
    In reply to Jays comments not so far above. I really think he has hit the nail on the head in regards to the subject. All information should be on every part of the package from envelope, to CD to back of photographs to letter to biography and anything else you want to throw into the ring. Like Jay I also received some demos on a flash drive which in my personal opinion I do not necessarily think is a good thing as not all flash drives work on all computers. At least with a CD you can play it in the car, on a computer, on a stereo system, ghettoblaster etc. It's important to remember an A&R person can be winging up and down the motorway to see bands, meet producers and songwriters etc and maybe the only chance to play demos is in the car. Without trying to sound to self important here is an insight into the way I used to work the demos at Warners and at the BBC and i can only speak for myself here. Firstly i'd be given a huge pile of CDs on any given day. Anything that shone out from the crowd of envelopes such as a shiny jiffy bag or cool band stickers plastered over the envelope and caught my eye would be played first. Yeh I know it sounds a bit childish but it caught my imagination OK..... ;-) So as soon as the contents are out of the envelope the CD is taken out of the sleeve and immediately put into the player and played and I would then look at the rest of the package, photos first as it's a visual impression. Then i'd peruse the biography and see if there was anything exciting or of worthy note such as a decent producer, well known songwriter, professional manager or mastering company that were involved. If any of these two boxes were ticked I was immediately interested to a much higher degree however this was a very rare occurrence and having only one box ticked might be a 1 in 50 chance. Then whilst browsing the biography i'd switch onto track 2 of the CD and read the letter. If I did not think anything worthy on the first track and the second was doing nothing then everything goes back into the package after i've swiftly perused the letter and no more tracks on the CD would be played. Therefore always ensure the best track is on the CD first and never never think that leaving the best track until last is the best policy for an A&R man because he wouldn't even get to hear it. Total time for package consideration approximately 4 minutes on average unless the music and packaging was dire and then probably less than a minute or the time it took to get the CD out of the package onto the CD machine and having heard the opening 20 seconds the time it would take to come off the CD player and back into it's package. I know that sounds harsh but that's the truth of it. A&R people simply don't have enough time to hear every second of every demo particularly if the music and packaging are of a poor quality. If there is a good quality package and the first two songs are fairly decent then i'd listen to another one or two and if they were decent as well then i'd put them in a pile under the title 'for consideration at the end of the week' when perhaps half a dozen demos would be scrutinised both musically and packaging wise. I hope this insight is helpful to some prospective artists.
  11. Saturday, August 2, 2014 11:54:57 AM
    Chris Scott
    Totally agree with this. Having spent over 20 years in sales. This is VERY important. Both in topic and in help for future artists and those venturing out for the first time in representing their artist. Take me for example. A metallic jiffy envelope is something that I would in fact use, and in a colour scheme that works with everything from the bands name and logo on any letters, but also with the CD cover. But to me another aspect is soundcloud, youtube, facebook, twitter and the webpage. How many fans do they have already with hardly any marketing at all? I look at every follower as a potential £9.99 per CD or 99p a track! This is why I am working hard with my daughter to build up a portfolio of different tracks from a number of genres. In order to show off her abilities. These will then go on Soundcloud. I am working on a facebook fan page for her, and my website will start the promotion engine and put it into gear. After all. She is only young and will take her GCSC's next year. There is a youtube video of her in her first recording session. But the plan is to show the growth and development. Once everything is in place then tracks will be put on CD and an "Image" will be created. That way. When the CDs and promo material go out, they will link to a website with where she is gigging. A Facebook page will show what she is doing and the thanks she is giving to her fans. Youtube views will be viewed and soundcloud tracks listened to. The music industry was very hard to crack but with the onset of TV shows this has made the industry incredibly hard to get into now. So if you stand out from the crowd. And have an existing loyal following then then it should make the task a little easier. Right? And that is what the "Snapshot" letter will include. Thank you for the topic. Really helpful. Watch this space!
  12. Saturday, August 2, 2014 7:29:14 PM
    Sania Berg
    Well, I don't want to sound cynic, but this boils down to "At best you get a contract when you don't need it anymore." :-] Actually, if the talent needs to create their career, fanbase and marketing themselfs - what means going the selfmarketing route - then they also don't need a recordlabel anymore. You get access to digital distribution to all major downloadshops and streamingservices for very little money or even for free nowadays. Why should one use soundcloud if one can have it out for sale everywhere ? You still can publish your music - w/ or w/o a recordlabel - and if you're fortunate, then a few will listen to your stuff on a streamingservice; but to actually *sell* it - I guess this time is over now. I recently had a talk with a friend about the topic and he said "Noone buys downloads anymore. Why should I ? I can listen to it 24/7 with flatrate streaming." Me: "Because I don't see a f*cking cent from this !" He: "Really ???" Me:" Yes. I get 0.8 ct per play compared to 0.60€ per purchase. Streaming comes close to theft." He then ashamed switched the topic. It's the same with the crowdfunding platforms: Bring your idea *and* your customers - so we can profit from you ...
  13. Monday, June 15, 2015 7:25:09 AM
    Michael Leahy
    Sania, this is drifting a bit from the discussion of A&R, but it's worth mentioning. I've done A&R. One of the labels I work with has artists coming back after having gone the DIY route. The reason is two-fold: on the one hand, the label takes care of the recording, managing all the various aspects and advancing the money. On the other, the label usually has far greater access to radio and other media than a DIY label, plus it shoudl aleady have partnerships with foreign distributors, festival organisers and the like. That takes a lot of work and responsibility from the band or performer. One thing which has not really been touched on in the previous replies, is very quickly I want to know if the band is gigging and who is behind them (management and/or booking agency).
  14. Monday, June 15, 2015 7:34:36 AM
    Roger Östman
    CD's is old fashion . I want links to Soundcloud or MP3's . Of course I want to know what the writer or artist has done in the past. So a PDF with some pictures and bio and good songs is will do for me.