For my culminating experience, I am working on a A&R / Artist management project. I’m not fully participating as an A&R for the Disrupción records, but that’s the field I want to learn the most about.
When Sean C and Young Guru came to Berklee few weeks ago, I tried to attend most of their sessions and workshops. I felt like their workshops were very helpful even though I didn’t really get to actually talk to them for hours. Just hearing their experience, how they started in the industry, how much they love working in the music industry, I was very inspired.
One of the biggest take aways from their sessions was that “If you want to be an A&R, be an A&R NOW, Don’t wait for someone else to hire you and make you do the job. Sean C said just look for talent now and act like you are doing the job already. There are plenty of talented artists around us and we may not realize it, but also we need to force ourselves to make sure we are surrounded by talent. To become an A&R, we need to have the ear for the talent, and budgeting, learning how to balance can come later. Of course, you have to know how to put the record together.
We need to learn why other people fall in love with certain records, it’s easy to fall for music that we specifically like however, as an A&R, we need to figure out why other people like and why they are popular. Even though you don’t like it, you need to know that. The example they gave us was Ne-yo how he puts himself into other people’s situation. He would write songs as if he is in a female perspective. They told us to think about why other people are attached to some records. Also Young Guru was saying he brings his songs to his usual Barber shop so he can get other people’s opinion because they are the most honest people around him who would tell him they like the song or not.
These advice may sound typical, but to me it was a wake up call. I really try to listen to whatever I want to listen to. I easily shut down the music genre I don’t like even if they are all over the radio. I always rather listened to new songs, but most likely repeat the songs I like. Before I go to bed, I should really try to think over why people like Pitbull so much now.
This week students at Berklee Valencia’s campus had the opportunity to meet and interact with two music industry veterans, Young Guru and Sean C. If you aren’t familiar with their names, you’re most likely familiar with their repertoire. Young Guru has worked as a highly esteemed engineer and has also worked alongside respectable and notable artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West. Prior to meeting Young Guru, I indirectly felt as though as I knew him due to Hov’s various shoutouts throughout the years. One of my favorite Hov shoutouts was when he told Guru to “turn the lights down..let’s keep it smooth” on Party Life (American Gangster album) LOL
Our other industry vet, Sean C. is a Grammy-nominated producer and A&R that has produced for hip hop artists such as Diddy and Jay-Z. I was especially interested to hear Sean’s perspective on the industry and the future as an A&R since my career interests are specifically in that field. There were various workshops held over the two-day period while they were here in Valencia. One of my favorite workshops was the A&R session that was held on campus in our studio on the film scoring stage.
(Berklee Valencia students pictured in the studio with Young Guru and Sean C. for the A&R workshop)
(Photo Credit: Disrupcion Records)
Both Sean C. and Young Guru provided feedback to Berklee Valencia artists who submitted music. I’m currently working as an A&R for my culminating experience thesis, so I was super excited about the opportunity because both of the artists that I’m working with were chosen to participate in the session. It was such a humbling experience to receive feedback on their music from industry professionals and to use that info to tweak their projects and to make them even better! This was a great experience both creatively and professionally. Another workshop focused on innovation within the industry. During this panel, both guests answered various questions that students had re: career advice, music production/technology, the direction of the industry, and evolving with the industry to ensure your position/career. A highlight for me was Sean’s response in reference to being a woman in a male dominated industry. His consciousness about the issue was indispensable and re-emphasized some of the points that I’ve learned throughout my professional career.
This experience was one that I longed for as a student in the Global Entertainment & Music Business Masters program. The knowledge that both gentlemen dropped on us was absorbed like a sponge and truly invaluable. It’s a great opportunity to meet people who are working in positions that many of us aspire to be in. The grind continues….