The AR Experience
Imagine yourself in a glass bubble located smack dab in the middle of the busiest highway during 5 o’clock traffic. Now lets make this scenario twice as cool and say that your glass bubble is hovering above the traffic but still in clear view of everyone passing through on the highway. In addition, your bubble relocates to a different city every 20 seconds and then on to the next. (FYI – 20 seconds [give or take] is about how much time new visitors general spend on a page before they split)
The image being described above is symbolic for artists with social profiles on networks such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc. You’re available and readily accessible to millions from all over the world including record companies. According to Epic Records A&R, Aaron Reid, social networks make it easy for him to scout new talent. “You still have to go visit them to validate everything they portray to be on their profiles but it saves me time,” says Aaron. In music biz, the internet is an awesome tool for researching, sharing, and displaying talent. Just don’t expect to know who’s reviewing your profile or when either. If you’re a musician waiting to be discovered from your music profile online; its very likely that you could be discovered at anytime or had already been reviewed (after all you’re in a glass bubble where everyone can see you).
More importantly is Aaron Reid, leading the new school in his current position as A&R Executive at Epic Records (Sony Music). AR has had a hand in more deals than he takes full credit for but his most recent notables are Future, Travis Scott, and Vinny Chase (to name a few). Aaron is also son to one of the greatest music moguls of all time, LA Reid (PAUSE) and American dance-pop and urban contemporary singer-songwriter “Pebbles” (creator of female super group TLC). We managed to catch up with Aaron to get his insight on what the majors are looking for in potential signees.
Before Aaron took on the challenges as A&R, he started out exploring music from the other side of the fence, he too is an artist, producer, DJ, and songwriter which Aaron says “absolutely” plays a role when scouting newbies. “I go after what’s innovative and the next level of greatness. Numbers aren’t always there for every artist. It also depends on if I’m interested in making the deal with them simply as an artist or more as a person. Who they are as a person will show me if they’re trustworthy enough for us to sign them (for lets say) a million dollars.” Just because someone has a huge social network following doesn’t seal the deal so don’t be mislead. Label heads like Aaron want to know who their real supporters are if any (Are people really playing the music, are supporters engaging in the campaign, etc). Social networks can help build followers globally but up and coming artists shall never count out grassroots. The promotional campaigns that artists execute in person are still critical in building the brand.
(Q&A w/ Aaron Reid below)
IMB: What do you think about artists who submit unsolicited music to your handles?AR: It happens, I can’t get around to all of it but I still go through them.
IMB: Obviously people are always going to compare you to your dad (LA Reid), how much influence does he have on your decision making from a business standpoint?AR: Nearly none, I mean he showed me how to approach the situation to make the deal happen. Most of what I know I had to figure out on my own but he’s always there for support if I ever need anything.
IMB: How do you view artists without a manager or some form of liaison and are acting as their own manager?AR: I think they’re cool and not Hollywood. Sometimes you gotta make it happen on your own. There are countless tools available now for musicians to get the job done more independently.
IMB: Somewhere in the world right now, there’s an artist or producer with raw and all original talent but doesn’t have the opportunity due to their geographical location, what advice would you give them?AR: You gotta move. YOU HAVE TO GO WHERE THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE.
IMB: Is there any room for artists who represent peace and love?AR: Absolutely, I represent peace and love. A lot of other people do too but I don’t think anyone who’s good enough have stepped up yet.