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“There has been no genuine A&R filter in the industry… We are building that now.”- Guest Post by Jack Ponti

Posted by Mike McCready | February 23rd, 2014 | 27 Responses

This article was originally posted by Jack Ponti as a response to this pov piece written by Music Xray Co-founder & CEO, Mike McCready.


There’s a vast misconception concerning the way new music and talent is discovered in the new paradigm of the Internet.

Where are all the DIY success stories?

While it’s true that anyone can now simply create a web page, populate every social media site there is, and virtually self-promote and distribute music, the reality is that 99.99% of that music will only be heard by family and friends. If the rallying cry of “we can do it ourselves” were true, then why are there not thousands of success stories? Because the ability to market and promote inside a clogged bandwidth is virtually impossible. You can’t build critical mass. This also creates a big problem for the industry. There is no filter.

Now, one may say the lack of a filter, gate keeper, standard, etc. has allowed music that would have never been heard a chance to be heard. But by who? Surely not the masses. It’s most likely to be heard by only a few. Sure, now anyone with a song can go full-bore Internet crazy and do all the wonderful things that people claim will help build their career, but it’s just not true. Again, where are all the success stories?

The industry’s pre-Internet filter:

Pre-Internet, the music industry had a filter. Perhaps it didn’t work all of the time and I am certain some great music was lost along the way due to that filter. The filter involved the artist knowing someone with genuine access who could get their music to someone who could actually do something about it. The filter also involved a policy of “no unsolicited material”. Meaning it would not be listened to unless someone vouched for it.

There was a dual role in the no unsolicited material policy.

One, was it avoided deep pocketed and pointless lawsuits. If unsolicited submissions were allowed, someone could randomly send in a demo and then months later find some ambulance chasing attorney to file suit claiming infringement, hoping the label/artist would settle. But the primary reason for the policy was that if you allowed unsolicited material you opened the door to everyone on Earth who believes they have talent. And most don’t. The mountain of material that would have been sent in would have taken thousands of people to sift through. So yes, we more than likely lost some genius talent due to the restriction of that filter but we also found plenty as well.

The industry believed that if a known manager, lawyer, publisher, producer, etc. was presenting music, it must be somewhat good. Now granted, it sometimes wasn’t. But for the most part, it met a standard and certain level of professionalism. It also spoke of the artist’s, writer’s, or producers’s, own ability to hustle and get to someone with genuine access. It worked well, as evidenced by decades of music.

But I have always said, the next Beatles were in a basement somewhere and will never be discovered due to lack of industry access. I’m sure we missed out on plenty.

In my 35 plus years in this business, wearing every possible hat that you can, 99.99% of my success was directly due to a filter. I was hammered by one of my clients to listen to India Arie. My manager introduced me to Jon Bon Jovi. A&R men brought me countless projects in development. Lawyers made introductions. The list is endless.

So here we are in the Internet age. No filter, no gate keeper, it’s a free for all!

But what do you do to genuinely find exceptional talent? Google search “good music”? Good luck with that. YouTube? If you have a decade of time on your hands. Reverbnation, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, sure there are a multitude of possible places, but none of this has been filtered.

Unfortunately without a filter, you have to sift through hours of horrendous music to find even a remote possibility. Why? Because just like in pre-Internet days, anyone who can play any instrument or remotely sing is now convinced they “have what it takes” and they just clog the bandwidth with music.

Even from a psychological point of view, pre-Internet, people somewhat filtered themselves, thinking (or knowing) they were just OK, and why bother. But with the proliferation of TV shows like American Idol, we are now in the “yes I can” stage. Though that is wonderful, it can also be painfully unrealistic. Then with the advent of sites like CD Baby, people assume stardom is around the corner. For some it is. For many it’s not. But the illusion is real and by having a web site and distribution, suddenly you are there, or so you think.

I am not condemning that nor making fun of it. It’s wonderful to share your music with people and even if that means sharing it with only one other person that is a success and should be applauded.

What’s needed?

However the heartbeat of the music business is new talent and there is a tremendous amount of undiscovered new and brilliant talent lurking out there caught in the miasma of a clogged Internet. Like I said, we missed some great talent along the way and truth be told, we are missing way more now.

A true and accurate filter will bring that talent to the forefront in rapid time. I salute and respect those who chose to go it alone, DIY, indie, whatever you chose to call it. But this business needs new talent and for those who want to be within that framework, they need to be discovered. Be it an artist, writer, producer; they need to have access and we, as an industry, need to access them or we’re all in trouble.

There has been a method of A&R research in place for over a decade now. It works very well, however it relies on spotting blips on the radar screen of something already in motion, something that has traction. Be it local or regional sales or radio airplay, it is already moving.

The same can be said for the recently announced deals with Twitter and Shazam moving into the label space. That is not discovery of talent, rather that is identifying moving targets after they start moving. The very essence of how Shazam works is you have to be searching for something you have already been exposed to. The same can be said for the concept of using Twitter as an identifier. Both are post, not pre.

There has been no genuine, and accurate, A&R filter in the entire industry to sift through the clogged space that we are currently subjected to. In order to do that properly you need to create the proper mechanism that is human based and software synergistic.

As you know, Mike [McCready of Music Xray] and I began in a highly acrimonious relationship, one of war. We have been speaking and meeting for months now, coming from opposite ends of the spectrum to find a genuine solution for the lack of a true A&R filter. We had opposing views but have come to agree. Chances are this is something monumental. I am convinced we are building that now.

The benefits to both the artists and the industry are enormous and I truly believe we can make a difference.


Musicians can submit music to Jack Ponti’s Merovee records by clicking here.

About StudioThemes

Mike McCready is an entrepreneur at the crossroads of music and technology. He pioneered the introduction of Hit Song Science into the music industry and followed up with Music Xray, the company he co-founded and serves as CEO. His companies have been the subject of case studies at Harvard Business School, IESE and he frequently guest speaks at many of the top business schools around the world. He helps the music industry identify high potential songs and talent and helps musicians get deals, get fans, & get better:

  • chatt

    How do I get yall too look at my group and listen to my music

  • jake

    So are proposing we go back to the stone age? This article has a feel of sour grapes. The control freaks are back.

  • http://www.reverbnation/damonandmatthews Flip Damon

    It is obvious to me, if not others that Jack is an overworked A&R guy who wishes there was less to choose from, rather than giving anyone a real honest shot. The music out there is actually quite good, in many cases, and instead of concentrating on what is hot at the moment, he would better serve the industry by considering new and different approaches to music. Also, there are many artists like myself who are fabulously intrigued by this new concept industry, and would like to see it progress further, so as to give many a chance, who otherwise would not have one.

  • David Linton

    Jack, you are spot on! I can’t tell you how many people send me music claiming they are the best and they have “X” amount of youtube hits or Facebook followers. This doesn’t mean you have great music just a lot of people who are encouraging to keep at it or who don’t have the heart to call the baby (the music) ugly.

    David Linton

  • kidrodney

    That was well said,and thank you for this info..#ArtBoxMachine

  • kidrodney

    That was well said,and thank you for this info..I luv getting the new scoop on the new music business and I really thank Music Xray for getting me and my sister in the Janurary 2014 issue of Music Connection Magazine and a upcoming consult with Jeff Blue!..#ArtBoxMachine

  • Royce White

    Thanks for the Blog. I think this article is a tease into what you are working on? Or did I miss your point completely? The old paradigm – the old music model – is still in play – even with all the internet action. And will be for quite a while yet. Why? Because payola was in play for sooooo long (maybe still is…) AND because the new music model has sooooo many people testing and touting the new music model saying if you build it they will come and we will help you do it, with no real serious marketing paradigm shift to stand above that noise. Hence, the old music model keeps working…

    With the old labels owning so much of the copyrighted material and masters, they will make lots of money even if they stopped doing everything today. Not to have the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous, but it will take a while to replace that. AND with the way royalties are going for new music, not sure the new model will bring any income from royalties in the future.

    But it’s more than that certainly. One of the top reasons that there appear to be no success stories, is because the new model requires you to also be so much more than what you were in the past – a business expert. Back in the day, AND one of the reasons labels thrived, was that most musicians just wanted to play music. Work at McDonalds or Bucks during the day and rehearse and perform at night. Labels could find the talent (A&R and your point) and do what they do best, funding (be the Bank), marketing (distribution), and artist management (done very little anymore with new artists by the majors, more-so by the minors and indies). The internet has made good distribution possible (though there’s no way to weed out the good from the bad easily) through itunes, Amazon Mp3, streaming services, youtube, etc., marketing to a much lessor degree, because most of the services group it all together and give the same results and serve the same people, and 98% of the business population does not know how to market/advertise correctly nor keep records to know what works and where to spend their small, soon-to-run-out budgets, let alone the average musician, and there is painfully little artist management out there for the average musician. There are a couple of really good mentors, but that’s it. Most bigger name musicians do not appear to be mentoring.

    So how to you become one of those “Success Stories?”

    1. First, define success. Do you mean you want to be a superstar and making tens of millions each year (the 50+ year old Madonna was top grossing Annual SALARY last year (not net-worth but made the most from touring last year) If so, you need to do a lot more homework and have a superstar team and lots of money in place. But if you’re happy with $100,000 salary (for each member of the band) or even $50k-75k, there are going to be lots of those success stories. No business makes a profit for the first 2-3 years typically – why is the business of music any different? In both cases you have to build clients (we call them fans) – but the bottom line is, they are our customers. They buy our goods – music, merch, tickets. An indie fan is worth about $300 over the bands lifetime (10 years). That’s 300 / 10 or $30 per year. If you have 1,000 fans you will make $30,000 dollars for the band annually (all spent on marketing and touring/gigging), 5,000 fans will gross you $150,000 per year. 50,000 fans = $1,500,000 per year and so on. Can you get to 33,334 true fans? If so you could make a million dollars in revenues for the band/business a year. But that’s going to take a lot of time and money. You’ll spend 3,000 hours per year for the first few years working your butt off.

    2. Learn business/marketing principles – not hard, you just haven’t done it yet. Even if you hand it over to someone else one day, you’ll know enough to keep that someone from screwing you.

    3. Plan, study, word harder and smarter – again, you may not be a superstar, you may not want to be, but playing to 500 people 120 times a year is doable.

    Like any business, you build it one fan at a time, and you love that fan really well over the LIFE of the band as you grow your base. If you suck, you won’t get to where you want. If you treat your fans badly, or simply naturally, you won’t get there. You have to work at and in your music, your voice, your business, your marketing, your leadership. That’s what the pros do – you’re not going to get there by being less than they are… VERY few understand what it takes and even less are doing it. The labels have perfected their model and have the added luxury of being the gate keepers. I mentor and coach musicians to success. Do the homework, get the good grade – don’t do it, and go nowhere. There are a number of good bands out their that the gatekeepers have kept down while they concentrate on their supers. The success stories are just now starting to emerge and will emerge at a much greater rate ONCE the model gets more solidified, sophisticated, accepted, and understood. We’re just over a decade of having the new digital model and it is in flux and change as it’s trying to find the right formula. Maybe you’ll be part of the greater formula with whatever you have coming – but nothing will replace doing the homework, polishing your act, and working the business of music. That’s how the model has worked for the gatekeepers and how it will work for the new model – only the faces change, control changes (more going to the musician), and some methodologies and procedures. Find what works and exploit it.

    Committed to your success,


  • eric “:Maynard” watson

    I am a singer songwriter- see me on youtube under my band name- “Skunkroot” I really enjoyed your article. I just don’t know if filter is ever the right word. A filter suggests downward motion and a blocking technique. I think something more upward in motion is better like jumping thru hoops or jumping platforms like video games or a ladder motion- like one rung up the ladder at a time. this way a criteria can be set which the artist can physically see and understand- as in the elements needed to move upward in the pyramids. a check list. One problem I am having with my music is tagging it do another artist. I am trying to be original in all aspects of my music. And I just don’t sound like someone else nor do I want to. I am in the process of making an EP- After I finish the EP I would like to know the avenues available to me as to promotion, sales, possible touring gigs, etc.

  • dalien

    Jack, great article…..thanks for offering…… I’ve brought this issue to Mike before…. what about also setting up a vehicle of partnership/investment/label imprint for artists who already have created an independent model, are functioning full time successfully making, recording/performing music and have a lifestyle brand in place that supports the music endeavors? If I had a dollar for every industry biz person who thinks my music is great I’d be well under way into phase 2 of my business expansion plans into radio…and I have stations requesting…but as I do everything and wear ALL hats.. – and I mean everything…..I don’t have any more brain power allocation…lol…as I need resources and a team to oversee that aspect and development into Americana, AAA, College, Adult Album Alternative…….

    Sometimes I think that certain biz types are either looking for something specific, current with today’s pop sound….or they want an artist who might be more “green” business wise so the power and control is in their hands…like a parent figure overseeing them….. with the artist so desperate to be famous, they’ll do anything…sign rights away all on a hope that the label, etc.. will do right by them. I’ve seen the belly of the beast, even worked in it for a while and it’s equally toxic as the mix of ego’s, power, money, Napolean complex, narcissism, “Wolf of Wall Street” types…SMS types trying to feel powerful in the world..(Small Weiner syndrome) – I aim to continually network to find good people who do believe in transparency and function in integrity in business…asking too much? Maybe… but I’m an optimist… and that’s how I’ve built my vision and stabilized it…

    I’m sitting on an opportunity that might get my next project/song in the end credits of one of the biggest motion picture franchises in history…..not a Music XRay lead.. no offense Mike… :) and as that unfolds and reveals itself in whatever way it does……and if my karma is good and that works out…that would be awesome and I’d be set in terms of having the ability to launch phase 2 of my plans myself and this conversation will be pointless…

    but I plan for all scenarios Jack, to keep moving, to keep innovating, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, music is like a military campaign… slow, steady, strategic positioning, patience, stealth…. but when there’s an opening, strike fast, pull back, assess the impact, evaluate, integrate, launch next campaign, build other musical related tertiary revenues.. and I’m not talking about a clothing line made in China and sold at K-mart…. that’s what you see lots of pop artists do when they don’t have the ability to maintain a long-term career, especially when they are constantly in need of other songwriters to write their songs….and their little pop star in the sky is starting to fade away and then they try to make a comeback 15-20 years later, capture their glory days… and it’s kind of like.. “uh, why”… or “I burned your bed sheets and lunch boxes and other crap when I turned 16″……….and so forth and so on.

    I imagine that a smart label/s will end up innovating, evolving their business model/s by investing and creating a small “bullpen” of successful, self-sustaining….”DIY”-ers that they can fund, actually build a catalog together, get back to long term thinking, get a percentage of profits relative to growth over time, delegate a little, open up resources, networks for them….but let the artist keep building their vision, also appoint their own team of people as well…….I think some artists become lazy once they get “signed” but some artists have passion and talent that transcends their music and have learned how to start, run and operate their business. Some artists are very good and enjoy being captain of their own ship….manifest destiny…’s all entrepreneurship and “owning your life” Jack… that’s the kind of empowered artists the industry needs to be finding, working with, alongside and helping build… not some of this current pop-climate of dysfunctional children, who lip-sync, flash their asses, release less than average music without playing instruments, blow smoke up the collective asses of society with songs I would not let my dog listen to…… and with such severe Mommy and Daddy issues that the labels should have in-house social worker/psychiatric and therapy departments alongside Radio, PR, Legal, etc to help them deal with the challenges that have come along with their “pop star” investment and how their in and out of rehab all the time….I care about the message we’re sending socially too, not just the music man.

    Where’s the middle ground Jack where a qualified label and an artist can find common ground, not take too much from one another, and really be proud of building something together that is based in getting good music to people?

    One of the big differences is, people who work at labels… for the most part…..didn’t build the label themselves…it’s not THEIRS…yeah you might have stock options…that’s not what I mean….., they work for it….they are employees all trying to make money for the shareholders first and keep their jobs.., so profits rule just like any other business….that’s just business….an album is a “human box of cereal” that hopefully will bring a return on investment if the music connects and the marketing stands out……. so unless someone has been an entrepreneur, runs their own business and actually built something and sustains it with their own two hands, blood, sweat, time and tears….it’s not easy to always find people with the same work ethic, mutual respect, commitment to a vision as you, etc.. but again I’m an optimist…and a spiritual, musical capitalist.. :)
    Sometimes too many chefs, ego’s in the kitchen with too may recipes or approaches, screws up everything…

    We all want to be successful Jack…everyone…support ourselves, our families, our kids and believe in this thing called
    the Musical American Dream… say the internet is clogged and it’s hard to find your next “Beatles” due to no internet filter?
    On some level maybe… but
    I say you’re not looking in the right places….you’re not looking at self-sustaning, developed innovators (Cough, cough, ahem)….. as yes, we’re under the radar a bit….. BUT we’re not just posting cover songs and other things on the internet hoping to be discovered… we’re doing what we do full time….I’m not that desperate for anyone’s help… but I want to grow the business and I’m realistic that it does take an expansion team of good people…… As a human being, not just a business owner….its normal to want to grow…., it’s what any musical/artistic business owner wants. But I choose to let you discover me… I choose to let you in on something that can support your career, support both of our careers…it’s equal opportunity Jack.

    DIY’ers are building, innovating, touring, performing – retaining authentic fans…… internet is really just a marketing tool, you tube, all of it to keep targeting and keeping people informed that you’ve built into your tribe via – touring, radio, grass roots building of different markets….don’t ever underestimate the human impact of building fans through direct live experience – granted it’s a slower process, but it’s higher fan retention rate……..internet is cool for some things, but doesn’t always build that emotional connection with the fan like a live show….and can retain them.. as most hear or see something on the internet, then get distracted by the next link or video…. today’s internet music age is challenging in the sense it’s like being in a room filled with a couple hundred people with Attention Deficit Disorder, all talking, texting on smart phones while trying to have a conversation at the same time….My guess is the 28 and younger demographic all are suffering from Cerebral, Brain and Nervous system Overload and Hyper Stimulation… that’s why I target 35 and older…and have over 15 K on my email list..which is more important than view counts on videos…that allows me to tour and keep building, radio or no radio.

    Yeah and If I had a boatload of money, then sure would be great to have a song in constant rotation to the point that people actually start to get annoyed with it being overplayed…lol…, in bed with Clear Channel, playing it 8 times a day in thousands of markets worldwide… as the old adage in radio is” It takes a song to be played on the radio millions of times throughout the world to gain those fans, capture their attention, convert them to fans and build potential sales…. (today’s pop stars aren’t selling the big numbers due to technology, ease of musical access/streaming and a lower quality of musical skill sets… Ke$ha, Biebers..that whole lot of “modern day musical prophets” that are out there inspiring the planet – lol),… oh I could go on and on.. not complaining.. just discussing the realities of the industry and how sad its become…and hopefully add some food for thought….

    Some improvement ideas…
    Find the self-sustaining, successful and proven DIY’s Jack…create balanced partnering/fair/deal making situations that are win-win-win across the board….think long term and short term simultaneously.. – not “who has the upper hand or has more control in the deal bullshit” …..No more throwing artists under the bus or taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable artists with low self-esteem who think a “record deal” or fame is gonna solve their personal problems, issues, abandonment problems… because the label is gonna take care of them and promise them the world. No more thinking you need artists who look like models or to be provocative to build an audience… that’s complete BS and you know it. They told Billy Joel he was too “ugly” to succeed in music….uh selling out monthly at MSGarden all year today?!?!? Thank God Columbia Records…
    Adele is not a Victoria’s Secret model….hear her sing? I really believe that SOME, not all, folks in our industry are closet, wounded little children in adult bodies, sociopathic narcissists thriving off their little slice of power in the world as it relates to the control they “think” they have and thrive off of in making or breaking an artist…EGO Jack… it’s a business killer and it’s killing our music industry, at least in certain areas it is.

    The tide is turning, and honestly as more of us break through slow and steady on our own terms…….. you’re all gonna come running to work with us DIY’ers…to help stabilize your business models.. like long term stock portfolios.

    Re-build this music industry, clean it up, get some better leadership at the labels whose taste in music, background and personal musical skills and ability to recognize talent hasn’t been watered down and brain-washed by this insulting display of current pop music that’s being peddled to kids……..I was a little kid when John Lennon was killed.. the whole school stopped, went outside and grieved…… No offense, but that wouldn’t happen with one of today’s pop stars…it did for Michael Jackson… again, different levels of talent and impact on the human heart, soul and society……..
    there’s always cycles of crap music before it gets good again…
    god willing… I hope :).. It’s your responsibility to help find it… and it’s my responsibility to bring it….
    especially if we want to honor the great music of the past and be inspired from that place of great musicianship and songwriting, skill and ability to make people feel something authentic….keep doing what you..
    Make your best, better and your better… blessed.
    Thanks for the forum – D

  • pschase

    Great points made by Royce above. It’s interesting…I’m a working artist and musician with a genuine love for the process of making music. I’ve found a bunch of ways to use music, or my creativity in general, to make an ok living. I’m hammering out the business aspects so I can approach the indie levels Royce mentions.

    People may hate what I have to say next, but I was never anti major label. That “filter” is responsible for most of the titans in music that we all know and love today. Did some artists catch a hard deal from the majors? – hell yeah. But you have to be aware of your place at the table, and what behavior might have lead to your being screwed. I know from coming up through the independent scene, working in multiple genres of music, how lazy people can be when it comes to going over a contract in a band meeting, just as an example.

    I’ve said for awhile that the record biz needs to bring real A&R back. The internet can be a great tool, and Music XRay is kinda leading the way with the system they are developing ( though on the user end it could use some streamlining and clarity ), but I feel like that could be supported by real world activity – getting out to shows or or other event for live interaction.

    Without fail, every season of a show like American Idol has to let some major talent go. We’ve all seen it. Somebody unique who just doesn’t fit the blockbuster scale that a show like Idol is there for. Bob Marley, Dylan, Madonna, David Bowie, I could name a boat load of megastars that most likely would have been kicked off the show long before the finale. But clearly that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be getting out there, doing their “thing”.

    To any artist with a negative response to this blog post – you might be wasting your time. Be honest about your work and where it belongs in the world.

  • Lee Eisenstein

    Bravo and well said.

  • Xan

    Can’t wait to see what you both come up with! This article hits the nail right on the head! :)

  • Robert Lazaneo

    Actually, you still have gatekeepers in place with regard to music X ray. They are the publishers, producers, artist management, marketing people for radio, television, and movies. Those are the folks who mostly say “No. Good but not what we’re looking for but can’t tell you what that “something is” except to say it should sound like whatever is popular now. What about the A & R figures in the past who went out on a limb to seek out talent that was not that popular ? Why did Jerry Wexler, for one, seek out artists that were only selling records in the black community? It was because he liked that music and felt it should be heard. Or artists that have the potential but are not fully formed, need development, and companies took a chance that they might become huge if the record companies were willing to take a chance. How many songs had Dylan written when John Hammond signed him to Columbia? One. Those are the kind of A & R people that the music business needs. Where are they today?

  • Chet

    I’m with Royce on all this. The tastemakers never had much taste, and that remains true today. They are not in the business of filtering out good music from bad music, only in filtering out what they think they can sell more units of. These are not music majors from prestigious universities making these decisions. Lots and lots of dull, boring, crappy and embarrassing music is ‘filtered’ into the system every year at the expense of better, experimental music. In fact some of the greatest music in rock history happened by accident. Led Zeppelin was signed to Atlantic ‘sight unseen’ on a recommendation by Dusty Springfield of all people. Not some lawyer, label exec or A&R guy who was out looking for the next Monkees. And all of the best bands were passed over multiple times by these people. You know the stories, everyone from the Beatles to Nirvana. How could anyone have missed these bands? Because the tastemakers have no taste. Until they do, we will keep getting justin beaver, one republic and thirty seconds to mars…

  • BAM

    The industry had to broaden its views on music its purley entertainment. Music had very different purposes in it’d origins..

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  • Darrell

    I agree. There’s a lot of bad music out there. Most of the BS that hits TV and Radio rises to the top and like beer foam doesn’t have any weight. A lot of people study all their young lives to learn the craft of song and composition, then someone who pushes buttons comes along and catches lightning in a bottle. The problem is without superior marketing they don’t last because they don’t have a formula or even sometimes understsnd what the hell they’re doing. Thus a wasted position in the marketplace and the “glogging and clutter” begins. They don’t know the difference from a B-flat to a flat-B The old way may have not been perfect, but a convergence of old and new principles should have us close to what we need.

  • @campxmusic

    Well put article. DIY has a success rate of .01% or somewhere around there. I don’t know a lot of businesses that would subscribe to a business model with that success rate. I’ve always felt you need that great song first. Without that the rest is irrelevant.

  • Mike Smith

    Serious question: how do we get in touch with you to ‘make this happen’ and share ideas under NDA? I am proposing to put an A&R portal together that leverages from years of experience in another industry, but using the same principles….

  • bkbirge

    The filters already exist. They are called search engines. This article is calling for a new middleman in the process. Maybe this new hypothetical service will be attractive to industry types but it does nothing for the creatives. And frankly all it does is the equivalent of having someone do your work for you. I’ll take an A&R rep who is actively searching music and knows his/her market very well, the good and the bad, over some suit who is spoon fed someone else’s idea of good. It has never been easier to find good music. Ever. If you can’t find it you aren’t looking. You don’t even need to get out of your pajamas to do it.

  • Deanomuso
  • duggie kyle

    Hi Jack,
    my apologies,
    I’m old school, I was quite happy paying £12.99 buying an album, just for the one track,
    I didn’t feel ripped off, I wasn’t just paying for that one track, or the whole album,
    I was investing in future music. I miss those days, it was of no importance that labels were making a profit, important to me was that I was investing in a never ending quality
    I miss those days, & would gladly give up today’s nightmares to go back there!
    duggie kyle
    Scottish New Music Chart

  • Tracey Chantel

    First I would like to say I agree, there needs to be some type of A&R filter created in the music industry today.

    I would like to invite both Jack Ponti and Mike McCready to visit the following sites; http://www.IACAIACS.COM and On both sites you will see that we, the IACA, are also trying to initiate a new platform that would be a haven for A&R’s to come out and see and hear true talent of Indie Artists. This one stop annual event would be a platform for not only Indie Artist to look forward to but A&R’s and other music execs to know that they are guaranteed to see “raw talent” in the making of Indie Artists.

  • Bryan Hartman

    The people (fans) are the filter. Let them separate the wheat from the tares. If they like it, they will pay for the privilege. If not, they won’t. The people do not need a middle man. There was PLENTY of music that passed through the filter of yesteryear that frankly was total garbage, pieced together with nothing more than smoke, mirrors, and manufactured hype (remember Milli Vanilli?). Who picks winners and losers, the industry or the public? I think it should be the public. But if the issue here is getting new music heard, it can be done without gatekeepers.

    I mean no offense or disrespect here, so please forgive me in advance. But times change. The old paradigm is history. People who once manufactured typewriters probably made millions back in the day, but not anymore. As the market changes, you have to change with it (or not, as the case may be).

  • Mike Smith

    bkbirge – hear what you say about search engines, but what the original Jack Ponti article effectively describes is that artists who really want to be discovered are currently participating in a big electronic and social ‘mash-up’ with still no real guarantee of being discovered. Interesting to also read your point about the downsides of introducing new ‘middle men’ – because that is precisely what intrigues me about, for example, Twitter’s alliances with the Music Industry and exactly what their long term Business model will be with the representation of artists..

  • Tina Hung

    Good read Jack! I appreciate the insight and do understand where you’re coming from. I guess from a singer-songwriter’s perspective, I’ll have to really reach out to the right people to get someone with good ears on my work… otherwise, like everyone else, I’ll get lost in the never-ending pile.

    A good example of someone who has gained traction is Kina Grannis who used YouTube as her force. If proved that if you are talented (albeit, good looking), people eventually pay attention and will spread the word. Of course, she put in a lot of work to get to where she is today… and by your reckoning, she is the so-called “blimp” on your radar no? Oh well, better get cracking!


  • dwoz

    I’ve been saying for quite some time now that as a musician and writer who would like to make a living as an artist, in the “old days” I was competing against the published canon…my music was competing against the other artists who were already successful. In this new internet age, my music is competing against a vast massive amorphous wall of sheer noise.

    Given the choice, I’d MUCH rather compete against the other successful artists.

    What has to occur is a complete sea-change, where we realize and understand that we now have TWO music industries. The first is the realm of the prodigies and geniuses who are moving the arts forward; the second is the vast population of casual musicians who have the new technological ability to amuse and entertain themselves, with self-constructed music that is wrapped in the shiny trappings of professional production.