Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum
I've certainly enjoyed reading this discussion. As much as Toddy and Tommyland may think they're disagreeing with each other, from my perspective, you're both agreeing with each other more often than not.
Well, most A&R guys have no clue, because the whole business has turned upside down. And not just downloading and the internet. In the late 80's and 90's there were so many record company buy outs and mergers, a lot of top execs got replaced, so rather than music people running the labels, they were replaced by financial guys who's job it was to maximize the stock price.
I had a friends band who was signed to a huge deal with WB, then the company's President was fired, and the band's album went right to the 99 cent bin.
The net result of all these mergers was artist development and long term building of a band went out the window.
Rush's first three albums bombed, their 4th went gold, their 8th went platinum.
Journey's first three albums bombed, their 5th finally turned a profit, their 8th made them super starts.
Fleetwood Mac has 8 albums of so-so sales before Mick found Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks that transformed them into one of the best selling groups.
Major don't do that anymore. You're either a hit, or your gone. Even if you had a hit, if the follow up album bombs, they'll drop you. Which leaves the average A&R person stripped of their power, because the label won't back them up on any long term projects; they either deliver hits or get laid off.
That, and traditionally, A&R people were focused on selling a band in their territory. As discussed, the market place is now global, and you never know if a band will be a hit in Easter Europe or Japan even if it fails in the USA or UK. As opposed to the 70's, where a band might only sell in one part of the USA but not another, and everything was more segmented.
Hey that's very interesting you know, I didn't know the specifics of all of those examples. I certainly agree with the "hit or gone philosophy" though. I have some friends that were signed to virgin for a bit, their first album did pretty well, they got placements in a few prime time adverts in the UK. On their second album they took their advance, used it to buy gear for themselves, and put out a nice self-produced album, but not aimed at the mainstream. Critically it did pretty well, however after the record bombed commercially, the major released them. It turned out that they had kept their commercial songs for their next album, along with the gear. Pretty creative use of a bank (record company) if you ask me.
I also have read a bit and discovered the segmentation you are speaking of, although I wasn't around to see it for myself. I have read some very interesting books on this subject (well, if you find the history of the recording industry interesting), actually I wrote a 10k word essay on it for my dissertation. I have to say that if I was born in the 1970s or early 1980s then I might have totally overlooked the music industry as a career path - other than drumming in a band, but growing up with the internet has made it less mystical. It's nice to log on in the morning, & have a quick browse of google news & music industry blogs, you learn something new every day.
As for agreeing with Tommy, you know you're totally right. I realised we were agreeing on many things whilst typing my long post, which is why I went out of my way to not appear rude, as I wasn't trying to be confrontational in the first place. I am certainly someone who gets into arguments easily! I think the nice thing about the music industry is that it feels
like it has been at a sort of crossroads for a couple of years, no one really knows the wood from the trees. And those who do sadly aren't telling.