A&R (Artist and Repertoire) is a role within the music industry that involves finding new artists and songs to be used for a range of different purposes. Some of these may include an artist to be signed by a record label and release music within the industry or looking for songs to be used in commercials, films or games. The method used to carry out the A&R role has developed dramatically over the years, with some of the first instances of A&R being used in a place known as “Tin Pan Alley” (Denmark Street, London). This is where a lot of producers and publishers were based who searched for new talent that would be suitable to release music or provide songs for artists they already had.
Artists like Frank Sinatra after his big break in 1935 used A&R representatives to find material for him to record and perform, highlighting the importance of the role of talent scouting as big artists rely on it to be able to continue their career.
At a time where TV and internet didn’t exist, it was important for A&R reps to find ways to discover new talent with what was readily available. Due to this, early A&R techniques involved listening to the radio for new talent, as well as travelling around to watch live performances from new and upcoming artists. This emphasises the importance and effect that social media has since had on the way that the A&R role is carried out in the modern age.
Currently, social media has a massive influence on the way we find new and emerging talent. This can be anywhere from posting videos on YouTube of covers that can be watched by A&R scouts or using platforms such as Spotify to post new original music. Social media sites such as Facebook can also be used to promote gigs and events that may contain upcoming artists that A&R would find it interesting to attend. The possibilities have become endless as the role of talent scouting no longer revolves only around local artists like it once did, as many different genres and styles from across the globe are accessible through the internet.
One element of A&R that has remained the same throughout its time is the way that A&R will follow the “buzz” or hype surrounding an upcoming artist as a way of leading them to new talent. It is important within this job (especially within the pop industry) to follow the current trends, as this is how record labels make the most money. Around the time that Elvis was popular, he was known for taking inspiration from genres that weren’t typical at the time and adapting them to his own style. This meant that the A&R industry had to start encouraging peoples’ interest in different genres that they weren’t used to, both within the record labels and the public at the time.
Within this blog post, I am going to be using modern A&R techniques influenced by social media in order to find 3 new artists from 3 contrasting genres and explain why I believe they should be signed to a record label.
Section 1 – Contemporary R&B
The first genre that I will be scouting for talent within is contemporary R&B. This is a combination of typical R&B and pop. It also includes influences from soul and hip-hop but with a more electronic influence, using a wide variety of synthesized sounds and drum machines to produce a smooth and pop-like sound.
This genre originated not long after the 1970s influenced by artists such as Michael Jackson and thrived in the 1990s-2000s with other artists including Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Lauryn Hill, Usher, Rihanna and Mariah Carey being among the most popular. Here are some examples of artists and songs well known within the contemporary R&B genre:
I found the solo R&B artist Keaira LaShae on ReverbNation.com and managed to find many more of her tracks and information via the Soundcloud website. This singer/songwriter is experienced within the industry, from posting covers on Youtube up to 9 years ago to still releasing her own music now in 2020. The dedication shown from this artist is one to be admired, as she has worked very hard in expanding her empire through a variety of online sites over her 10 year career. She has managed to develop an impressive online following, accumulating 601,000 YouTube subscribers and over 1,000 followers on SoundCloud.
Her self-written and performed pieces have generated thousands of listens on SoundCloud, including her most popular named “Play The Side” (released in 2018) which has 138,000 plays. Many of her other songs each are generating above 30,000 plays also, with another popular track being “Frankie” which has over 52,000 listens on SoundCloud. I feel as though both of these most popular tracks demonstrate LaShae’s particular style within the R&B genre very well. “Play The Side” features more of the smooth and relaxed style of her personality, whereas “Frankie” shows her more upbeat and confident style. The demonstration of the typical aspects of R&B are very clear in her tracks, with use of drum machines and electronic influences as well as obvious features from pop, soul and hip-hop.
As well as Lashae’s obvious accomplishments on SoundCloud, her YouTube channel is definitely the highlight of her success. She has continued to upload a variety of content from covers, fitness videos and music videos consistently over the past 9 years, showing her amazing dedication to the industry and her determination to find success. She has also ventured into the world of dance, with each video racking up thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of views and also having a second channel named “superherofitnesstv” that has accumulated 882,000 subscribers.
She brilliantly demonstrates her multitalented nature and versatility as an artist/performer, as she has taken a great interest in not only producing her own music but also creating music videos to accompany these. The quality and effort that is put into her music videos is clear to see with an incredibly professional look, from the filming and media skills to the hair, makeup and outfits. She comfortably fits in to the R&B genre with her overall look and star quality. Her incredible smooth and easy-listening voice is brilliantly accompanied by her natural ability to entertain and perform, showing that she really is the full package.
Keaira LaShae has an astounding social media presence, racking up 238,000 followers on instagram through her own dedication and perseverance throughout the years. Though she does focus mainly on fitness/dance on her instagram, this already impressive following would be a brilliant opportunity for her to expand her music career into this area, as she already has a solid fanbase.
I believe that Keaira LaShae would be an amazing advantage to any record label, as she has already built up a solid following through her own hard work. There is huge opportunity for this to be expanded a lot further, as she has the right personality and talent to become a great popular R&B artist.
Section 2 – Electronica
Electronica is a term used to describe quite a broad range of electronic music, including house, techno and ambient. These genres focus predominantly on the use of electronic instruments such as synthesisers, drum machines and effects added in the editing process. The first instances of electronic music originated in the early 20th century when the first electronic instruments were produced. Since this time, genres within electronica have continued to expand and develop along with technology and new capabilities to produce different sounds.
Some artists that are popular within the electronic music genre include: Skrillex, Tangerine Dream, Daft Punk, and The Chemical Brothers.
Payne Pepper Jam
After searching on the website SoundCloud, I found an artist that brilliantly represents the electronica genre under the name Payne Pepper Jam. Based in London, this artist is an electronic composer/songwriter and producer who completes all of his projects within a home studio. All of his compositions are professional sounding and well completed as he has committed all of his spare time and money to gather brilliant equipment and produce the sound that he desires. He uploads his work to online streaming services and currently holds 833 Soundcloud followers, 124 YouTube subscribers and over 6,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. His earliest release on SoundCloud was 2 years ago and his most recent was 1 month ago. He has been uploading consistently in between these, demonstrating his commitment and dedication to his music. The development of his work can be seen throughout this timeline, as he enthusiastically works to provide music regularly for his online fans.
Payne Pepper Jam uses a wide variety of electronic instruments which is obviously a typical feature of the electronic genre. He uses these to create a diverse and varied portfolio of music, also using some experimental methods such as including classical instruments in his compositions, as well as many of the base techniques of the electronica genre. A great example of this would be the track “High In The Sky” which features violins and piano throughout, creating an interesting and contrasting sound. This piece is a good demonstration of Payne Pepper Jam’s experimental nature and ability to create music that falls under the electronica “umbrella” whilst using instruments and sounds that are not typical to the genre, keeping his music interesting for the listener.
His other music ranges from ambient soundtracks to upbeat dance pieces, demonstrating his ability to appeal to a wide audience by creating content that can be enjoyed by everyone. I believe this allows Payne Pepper Jam to stand out as an artist as he has a great capability to adapt and is very versatile, which is something to be desired within the music industry. Some of his most popular work so far includes the track “Ambient Symphony” with over 76,000 plays on Soundcloud, and “Call me insane & Aimee” with over 55,000 plays.
I feel as though both of these tracks successfully embody the goal sound of the artist, both with varying effect and musicality. “Ambient Symphony” is described brilliantly by the name itself, as the track has an easy and calm impression. Comments posted by his online fans on SoundCloud about this song provide encouraging words of feedback including “authentic’, “spectacular” and “worth the listen”. The use of edited vocals, synths, and a steady electronic drum beat throughout gives the track a very capturing effect that is genuine and original to electronica itself.
In contrast to this, the track “Call Me Insane & Aimee” has a very opposite effect, consisting of an upbeat sound with a faster tempo. This piece demonstrates the more bright and catchy aspect of Payne Pepper Jam’s compositions, with some heavier elements of electronic music being brought into the making of this piece. These include the use of distortion effects added to the synths and complex rhythms made on drum machines can be heard in the background, giving the track a more evolved and groovy effect. The use of sampling is an extremely widely used technique within electronic music and is seen to be featured within many of his tracks. This shows his creativity when producing music and his ability to be able to create a particular sound using a variety of different materials, embodying the electronica genre brilliantly.
Payne Pepper Jam is an artist who is consistently active on social media, with over 1,000 followers on Instagram and posting daily about his new releases whilst also promoting older tracks. He is very committed to his craft and creates the impression that he would be a reliable and hardworking artist, as he works to provide new material for his fans meanwhile maintaining his professional and skillful attitude.
I predict Payne Pepper Jam to become a very popular artist within the electronic music world, and has great potential to expand his following even further than he already has. He has the right amount of dedication and hard work, and is very talented in his area of work, as well as expanding out of his comfort zone to create material that appeals to a wider audience. His flexibility and star quality I believe would make him an amazing asset to any record label.
Section 3 – J-Rock
Japanese rock (abbreviated to J-Rock) is a distinct form of rock music originating from Japan. This genre began in the 1960s when British Western Rock became popular in Japan, and bands there began to take influence from these artists as well as others from different strands of the rock genre. It has since developed to become widely recognised and consistently in competition with other Japanese-originated genres such as J-Pop.
Some of the main artists recognised within J-Rock include B’z, Mr. Children and many others.
This rock band formed in Tokyo I found on the website SoundCloud. The band began in 2002, meaning they have over 18 years experience in making and performing music together. This is a positive as they appear to be a very close-knit group, who are very confident in making music with each other and can cooperate well as a team. This is likely to ensure that they are easy to manage and work with, making them ideal for a record deal.
Compared to other artists I have discussed, this band has the least following online, with 118 followers on SoundCloud and 244 subscribers on YouTube. However, they do claim to have a solid fanbase throughout Japan and are known to have a great turn out at their live performances. They have been releasing music on YouTube regularly for 9 years and still upload often in recent times. These regular uploads include new music releases, tutorials for fans to learn riffs on guitar as well as some covers of already popular bands.
Metro-Ongen are very dedicated to their craft and are great representatives for the J-Rock genre. It is obvious when looking at their work that they have put a lot of thought and effort into everything from their recognisable sound, to the artwork for their music. Just through the use of cover artwork for their music they have managed to create a clear picture for the listener of what kind of band they are and the kind of ideas they want to portray to their audience.
Metro-Ongen’s most popular track “Lily” has gained over 6,000 plays on SoundCloud and 4,600 views on YouTube with many words of encouragement from fans such as “great song” and “favourite song right now”. The influence from western rock can be heard in this song which is typical of J-Rock music as this is where the initial development of Japanese rock came from, allowing it to appeal to a wide audience across multiple genres. This shows the band’s ability to create and produce music that has the potential to sell in vast amounts, making them the ideal candidate to be signed by a suitable record label.
Metro-Ongen have posted multiple recordings of their live performances on their Youtube Channel have stated previously that they have had such a busy audience at their shows that fans have had to be turned away due to overcapacity. This is a great demonstration of their popularity in their area, therefore showing their potential to become a widely known artist with the right management and promotion.
The talent this band posesses is clear to see after watching some of their live performances online. They demonstrate a brilliant on stage presence, and have a great ability to capture the attention of the audience and continue to keep them entertained throughout the entirety of their performances with their upbeat energy. The lead singer in particular has an amazing on stage personality which is very intriguing and fascinating to the listener. This further highlights the band’s capability of becoming extremely popular in the future, as the performance side of being an artist comes so naturally to them.
This band does have a social media presence, with an instagram account where they post regularly updates on their musical activities, as well as updating their SoundCloud page often. These updates give a brilliant insight into the hard work that is put into their creations behind the scenes, showing their amazing commitment to their music. I believe this band would be well suited to a record label that is able to boost their social media presence and gain them more promotion, as they clearly are a great asset to the music industry.
After taking into consideration all of the points above, I believe Metro-Ongen would be a firm appreciated member of a suitable record label. They have had a sufficient amount of experience in creating music within their genre, and appeal to a wide audience with the music they create. They have the right “vibe” and personality for the content that they release, and are very likeable as a whole.
2020. Contemporary R&B: Wikipedia.com [online]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_R%26B
2020. Electronica: Wikipedia.com [online]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronica
Electronic Music Artists: Allmusic.com [online]. Available from: https://www.allmusic.com/genre/electronic-ma0000002572/artists
2020. Japanese Rock: Wikipedia.com [online]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_rock