Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Dearth of A&R

Pete Townshend, in BBC 6 Music's inaugural John Peel Lecture, made headlines with his provocative comparison of Apple's iTunes to digital vampires. Less noteworthy but more useful was his constructive criticism, that with the decline of the traditional record industry, iTunes should fill the A&R vacuum. Anyone can get their music distributed on iTunes, but it is hard for artists to build careers without the guidance, nurturing and editorial feedback of knowledgeable music industry veterans to help them stand out from the crowd.

The fashionable view of the record industry is to condemn it for taking artists' money and offering little in return or for pushing aside artistry for the sake of crass commercialism. Trent Reznor has said that A&R interference led to Scream (CD 30744) Chris Cornell's ridicule-worthy collaboration with Timbaland. But the flip side, as Chuck Klosterman argues, is that the lack of A&R interference led to Lulu, Metallica's ridicule-worthy collaboration with Lou Reed. No one was in a position to tell them it was a bad idea.

The library doesn't have Lulu yet. Even if it doesn't hit the Billboard 50, we will probably acquire it as a cautionary tale.

BBC News - Pete Townshend calls Apple 'a vampire'

Chuck Klosterman on the release of the new Metallica and Lou Reed album - Grantland
Injustice For All: The Lou Reed/Metallica Album

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