Day in the Life of a Modern Day Music A+R
By INDMUSIC's Channel Manager Arshan Sadri.
Leading A&R for YouTube's Largest Music Network sounds like a made up job, or at least one that most people didn't know existed until about three years ago. Over the last few years, YouTube has become one of the largest and most talked about platforms for discovering music. From VEVO and the major labels, to the singer songwriters covering a song and recording it with their phones, music is now a constant on YouTube and every day there are new artists making big breaks on the site.
My job at INDMUSIC is to find the band that understands the medium, as well as understands the YouTube community. I search for the rare artist that realizes YouTube isn't just a casual spot to post some studio footage, but instead, a legitimate venue to debut the record you have been slaving over for the past year. It's a place where you can be your own publisher and stake your claim on your music, engage with your fans, promote a tour, and (in one notable success of the past year) skyrocket to number one on the Billboard Charts.
INDMUSIC is the largest independent music network on YouTube. We work with everyone from traditional record labels like Stones Throw, Reach Records, Mad Decent, and Temporary Residence to artists like Kraddy, Dillon Francis, Misterwives and Lord Huron. Our job is to build unique engagement strategies to help them reach their audiences and increase their presence on YouTube. We are able to manage their rights and ensure that they can both collect revenue on and claim any and all uses of their content across YouTube. It was our initial strategies that helped ensure Baauer and Mad Decent were able to leverage the viral success of the "Harlem Shake."
I don't just spend my time scouring YouTube all day or going to shows looking for artists and bands that need our help (which is incidentally most everyone), but I also get to help facilitate new opportunities off platform. This past summer, we teamed up with Bonnaroo to help bring a wholly unique experience to the popular music and arts festival. Three of our artists, each with strong YouTube followings, traveled to the festival to headline an intimate "Superjam" on the Saturday of the festival with the purpose of highlighting the unique talent available on YouTube, and to additionally expose Bonnaroo to the talent of the larger YouTube community.
Having never met or collaborated with each other before, Soul Khan a Brooklyn rapper famous for destroying East Coast rap battles, Black Violin a hip hop group fronted by a duo of violin virtuosos, and drum and bass LA pop group Knower met for the first time at the festival. There they linked up with Jeni Suk, a songstress from the Bay area, and rehearsed for three days straight. Culminating with a performance in front of a massive crowd of festivalgoers who then became a massive crowd of fans. The festival captured all of the highlights and featured each artist as part of a Bonnaroo 365 documentary. Bridging these two worlds together is increasingly an aspect of what I do that is the most tangible, and easily the most rewarding for everyone involved.
Running A&R for INDMUSIC afforded me another opportunity to bring artists together on YouTube during our residency at the YouTube Space LA in October of 2013. The YouTube Space Lab is a massive network of production facilities all over the world, the largest of which lies in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles and is open to qualified YouTube creators. After meeting certain requirements, creators are given access to a massive array of professional camera equipment and editing tools, allowing them to create amazing videos to then release to a large audience. Access to such tools and a massive production space is something the bulk of our independent artists or labels have never been able to experience, so we jumped at the chance given to us by the YouTube Music & Next Lab Teams. For one month they opened their doors to us and allowed us to use the Space and create content for up and coming acts Vali and Leon Thomas (Rostrum Records).
Always the collaborators, we also leveraged our relationships with our sister Network, DanceOn, who helped provide choreography for the first video we shot at the space. Renowned choreographer, Jasmin Meaken, added her touch, highlighting the video with her incredible moves. One of the most rewarding aspects of what I do will always be assisting with the actual creation of the content and helping facilitate these collaborations to give talented artists access to a wider audience. When our artists realize how powerful a medium YouTube can be and how engaged their audience is once they interact with them directly, then I know we're all on a path to success.
The "traditional" artist is always hesitant to say they're "big" on YouTube as if there is a stigma attached to being famous on the video platform and not on a Top 40 radio station. As dead as radio is, for some reason, people still look to it to determine "success." There are scores of artists that we have worked with in the last few years who have used YouTube as a tool for success. Whether you believe this success is valuable or not, artists that use the platform properly can realize this goal. And our Partners can achieve this because they have leveraged the YouTube community as independent artists to create their own success.