midemblog: A&R is traditionally a label role. Labels in themselves have evolved a lot recently, notably with the rise of direct-to-fan. What does this mean for A&R?
Sat Bisla: The overall aesthetics of A&R have not changed when it comes to the creative elements in crafting great songs and overall career development. Yes, the financial aspects with the direct-to-fan platforms means that artists now have the chance to finance their creative vision in various ways outside of the traditional label or publisher. Most labels are in a position today (at least the majors) where they are in a better position to take less risk with developing artists. Therefore the burden is shifted to artists to bring stronger “value proposition” to the table to get consideration from a label to get signed. With direct-to-fan platforms, brands, angel investment portfolios, etc. there are other ways to finance the creative process and develop the local, national and global footprint for artist development and success.
> PledgeMusic, the music crowdfunding site – i.e. not a label – recently announced it was launching an A&R department. What do you make of this?
I have a lot of respect for Benji Rogers and his team at PledgeMusic. I’ve spoken with Benji for many years about their vision. I think it’s great that they’re providing the experienced A&R minds and skillsets to give their artists a better chance of reaching their full potential. You need a great creative and busines team to help you reach your potential; money alone cannot buy success.
>What would you say are the best ways artists can get noticed both by A&R execs and by brands? Do similar methods often apply?
Our philosophy and practice at A&R Worldwide is always that “you don’t need eyes to see you need vision!” That has helped us ensure we could help artists like LMFAO, Keane, Dido, Ting Tings, Adele, The Temper Trap, Coldplay, Sia and hundreds of others to build audience and opportunity prior to being signed in the US and/or worldwide. It’s simple: if you have great music that connects to fans on an emotional level, a great live presence and a strong team around you with a vision, you will elevate your ability to reach various success milestones. In my opinion, this applies just as much to traditional A&R as it does to working with brands and other sync domains.
> What do you make of next-gen brand tie-ins like Jay-Z’s recent deal with Samsung? Is this the way forward?
In my 30 years of being in the music business, the past 18 months and as far as my vision can sense, we are in a very exciting time. The rules are there are no rules in regards to how business is done and how opportunities are created. If you have great art, passion, great work ethic and you create a unique and distinctive proposition for yourself, the potential is limitless in the “new world order of the music business.”
Sat Bisla is president & founder of A&R Worldwide/Musexpo. A&R Worldwide is partnering with Midem 2014 for two new initatives: the Global Sync and Brands Summit, where delegates will get to pitch their music one-to-one meetings with music supervisors; and The A&R Pitch Session — Get your Music Noticed!, namely individual pitches to A&R professionals. Find out more about the two events here.