Wednesday, September 12, 2007

EMI wants you to do their A&R for them

In a move not-entirely-unlike Sony's Vox initiative from six months ago, EMI are inviting bands to use a service which will sort-of-somehow-function as an A&R operation:

The Scoutr feature offers a service for musicians to create profiles, upload their new tracks and have them rated by other users using a similar system to as music recommendation site Last.fm.

This is either BTgetoutthere all over again, a brave attempt to democratise decision making, a weak company that's lost faith in its own abilities to predict what people will like, or all of the above.

The twin weaknesses here are that there's little demand for yet another unsigned artist site, where - by the very nature of bands - most music will be made by acts who don't have a record contract for a very good reason; and, more dispiritingly, if you leave decisions about where to put your budget to a popular vote, you end up with a world of Will Youngs and Girls Alouds, rather than more specialist tastes that could serve a smaller audience, but over a longer period. Would, say, The Cure, or even U2, have got a deal if they were required to please a mass, undistinguished audience?

Sure, Scoutr could have be a useful tool, but it's not clear what it can discover that getting an A&R guy to spend some time surfing MySpace or Bebo couldn't work out.

Still, EMI have already announced some bright, new talent: John Birt's just joined the board.


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