Record Label A&R Guy Not Answering Your Calls? Go Mobile!

A Billboard news article discusses how many up and coming musicians no longer bother dealing with the large record labels to get their careers off the ground, but instead go straight to the fans through social networking sites and mobile phone music content like ringtones. Mobile carriers like Cingular are joining in the grassroots promotion by allowing bands to submit a song through a MySpace page, and then converting the song to a rintone. The musicians and their ‘friends’ can then post links in their MySpace pages that link to the Cingular store to buy the ringtone. A few fairly popular acts have actually come up through the ringtone route, as opposed to through working with a major label. According to the producer of one of these acts, labels don’t invest in musicians anymore (like VCs these days) they want the acts to invest in themselves and prove popularity before they pick them up. That just leaves me wondering, exactly what useful role do the labels play anymore? Control the payola market? Labels need to re-invent themselves to remain relevant, and getting out of the A&R arena is probably not the right tack.

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