The Hunt For Talent: Why Advertising Needs Artist-driven Content
Chloe Anderson, established music blogger, events organiser, and Founder of Hinterland Sounds, joined Audio Network earlier this year to support their growing A&R team. As online streaming continues to carve new territory across the landscape of the music industry, Chloe discusses the importance of impactful music, artist-driven content, and the breakdown of the barrier between commercial music and music for advertising.
Q> How did you get into music and A&R?
CA> I guess my upbringing was pretty musical, my Mum used to work as the concert producer at the Barbican, so her knowledge and love for live and classical music was second to none. Dad’s musical ability is on the questionable side but I’ve always admired and practically absorbed his taste in music. When I started boarding at school (this didn’t last long), he would send me a couple of random CDs a week that he had burnt. These included the likes of Cuban Cocktail, B.B King, J.J Cale and Tom Waites. Funnily enough my sister’s technically the musical one!
When I was younger, I was always mildly obsessed with finding new bands, going to gigs and unsubtly boasting about them to my friends. However it wasn’t until after interning at Warner that I actually realised that people could do that ‘in real life’. I don’t think there was one awe-inspiring light bulb moment that triggered the urge and love for music. My Mum making up stories to Rachmaninov in the car on the way to school when I was tiny, or randomly stumbling upon the original Blues Brothers band playing outdoors when I was about ten, these moments have stuck with me ever since. I have always seen music and sound to be a crucial part of film, TV and advertising to convey the mood of an image.
Q> You’re fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and you’ve interned in Buenos Aires for 9 months. Does this experience come into use?
CA> I’m a pretty big fan girl of Latin American and Brazilian music, and after working for an indie label in Buenos Aires I’ve become even more so. I’m admittedly borderline obsessed with Reggaeton! This has actually come in pretty handy since joining Audio Network, we’ve been making some awesome albums with both Spanish and Brazilian artists recently including the likes of Drumagick from Sao Paolo. Having the language skills and insight into the culture and musical trends is really useful when understanding the genres, attaining authenticity or translating any work.
Q> What made you decide to join Audio Network?
CA> I had been following the company and its growth for about two years,and really admired its forward-thinking approach to the industry. There has been a real drive here to establish and grow Audio Network’s presence in the world of new music/talent discovery, whether that be songwriters, producers,composers or artists. I’m absolutely loving it so far. The opportunity to scout new artists and work with such an array of talented composers, creating music and growing their success, seemed pretty awesome to me.
Q> How do you approach your search for new talent?
CA> The classic ‘going to countless gigs’ model is yet to fall by the wayside. However searching online is obviously a really important portal for discovering new music as it’s so universally accessible. My main resources are probably music blogs/bloggers, gigs, PR contacts, Soundcloud, session video distributors, artist managers, music lawyers, other artists’ suggestions - to name a few!
Q> Streaming service platforms like Soundcloud have made music more accessible than ever. How has this saturation impacted the discovery of new talent?
CA> Nowadays I do think that it’s pretty tricky for artists to succeed organically by uploading potentially unfinished music to platforms like Soundcloud. It seems it’s more about grafting, getting out there and meeting the right people.It’s also important to have the right team around you to confidently push your music out, whether that be lawyers, PR, promoters or live agents. It’s definitely become a ‘fingers in many pies’ situation.
A&R has had to adapt to this saturated market; in addition to everyone heading down to the big buzz gigs every week, you also have to be on top of everything that’s going on online. If anything there’s a lot more music to be listened to, and therefore hopefully a lot more good music to be found!
Q> How important is it for emerging artists to garner a significant social presence before being signed?
CA> It depends upon the artist, the label and the particular circumstances. An artist can have zero following prior to being scouted and signed by a label, and then it’s the label that generates the buzz and excitement around them through promotion. That’s not to say it doesn’t help to have a certain number of fans around an artist before a label gets involved. It helps the A&R and industry folk get down to the venue in the first place and it’s a good indicator of what’s to come.
What’s happening more and more is that artists are becoming less dependent on labels to generate their fame for them. If you manage to graft and gain a following such as Stormzy, you’re able to self-release your music and not be confined to the arguable constraints of a label contract.
Q> What qualities are you looking for when you scout out new talent for Audio Network?
CA> I bear a number of important factors mind when searching for new acts for Audio Network. Whilst there is a data and trend driven element to the search, we also analyse our catalogue to detect areas that can be filled genre-wise.Our sales team bring in feedback from our clients, which helps drive what we look for, not to mention the pitches from our existing composers. For me it’s about forecasting and tapping into the hottest trends whilst keeping the music’s capacity for sync usage in-mind. When composers and artists submit their tracks to us they submit a number of versions, (i.e. instrumentals and cut downs); for sync I believe the track has to be just as impactful as an instrumental version as it does with its top line vocal.
Q> What qualities differentiate music best suited to adverts from popular commercial tracks?
CA> In my opinion what suits adverts ‘musically’ completely depends on the style, theme, mood and energy of the product or brand it’s selling. The most suitable tracks are those that match the picture, bring it to life, or enhance the energy of the film. Having said that, I don’t really think there should be a difference between music for adverts or media music and commercial music,it’s about whether the song connects with the audience in an impactful way.
Increasingly we are finding that a track of ours (technically deemed‘library’ music) gets used on advertising and then gets picked up like mad by the public. People have gone crazy on forums and social media asking where they can find certain tracks that they weren’t able buy it on Spotify or on iTunes,and they’ve found their way back to us. Due to this demand from everyday listeners, and also those of the artists, we now have the ability to make this music available on iTunes and Spotify. This bridges the gap between commercial and advertising or media music - that shouldn’t really exist anyway!
Q> Can you tell us a bit more about‘Undiscovered’?
CA> Undiscovered is our platform for discovering and nurturing up and coming talent. Each Undiscovered album, so far, has featured a number of artists (usually four per album) with three to four tracks each. We try to cherry-pick artists from a wide spread of genres who we see real potential in.It’s a great way of showcasing our fresh talent to all our clients and to the public. As well as needing and using great instrumental music, our clients are always on the search for awesome artist-driven content.
Q> You’re an experienced events organiser, having organised music events in Bristol, London, and Buenos Aires. What’s the key to orchestrating a successful event?
CA> These events were all very varied, ranging from dance and house music nights, to London gig nights with four or five acts on the line-up, to chilled-out acoustic sessions. Detail and attention was key to the success of each of these events; whether by creating the most engaging invite or poster, successfully promoting the event on and offline, or just making sure the artists are as happy as possible on the night.
Q> You’ve recently hosted a new artist-profiling event, Work In Progress. Is this something you are looking to continue?
CA> We really enjoyed the intimate feel of our debut Work In Progress session with the young UK electronic producer Alex Arcoleo. It gave us a chance to really get to know the audience and their music needs, as well as being able to personally showcase the exciting fresh artists we’re working with at the moment. I think we will continue to keep the crowds small and engaged,interviewing new artists and updating everyone on the progress of previously featured acts.
Q> Can you tell us a bit more about Audio Network’s unique approach to their artists?
CA> Audio Network’s creative approach to music-making is as involved and as collaborative as the artist/producer/composer wants it to be. Like any label we go through an in-depth A&R process and give the same time and support to every artist, producer or composer across every single genre. Artists send in demos and we then invest in what the artist needs to bring those tracks to life and into fully fledged productions. It’s basically about making the best quality music possible, so if that means a track will be improved if the strings are recorded by the London Session Orchestra in Abbey Road, a brass section in New Orleans, or Baile Funk tracks by the real deal over in Sao Paolo– then that’s what happens.
Hinterland Sounds Event
Hinterland Sounds Event