Artist development: someone else has to do it

Artist development: someone else has to do it

Legendary A&R man Don Grierson talks about the huge changes that have taken place in the music business. In particular, the tricky question of artist development. The great performers of previous decades didn’t pop out of a box perfectly formed; they were nurtured and developed. This is no longer happening at the label level, so guess who has to do it?


The importance of songwriting

Of the things that have not changed over the years, Grierson is clear: “You’ve got to have songs”. All the great artists over the years have this in common: great songs that either launch their careers, or re-launch their careers.

Tina Turner and Cher’s return to the charts in the nineties is a great example of this. “Private Dancer” and “Believe” both catapulted the singers back into the charts worldwide. The downside? “If the singer doesn’t have a song, I’m sorry – there’s a problem.”

Grierson also points to a fact that is often overlooked: the biggest sellers are not always the hippest performers. “If you run down the charts, you’ll see that the biggest acts are those that relate to the mass audience with great material.” Examples? Michael BublĂ©, Adele, Josh Groban and even Susan Boyle.

Check the full interview for more.

2 thoughts on “Artist development: someone else has to do it

  1. Hi Patsy.

    The quick answer to your question is: artists that actually sing songs by other people. Why? Because many performers only sing their own material. To find out if your favourite artist is open to songs from outsiders, check their last album and look at the songwriting credits on their songs. If they have a good proportion of outside people, you already have a chance (though a small one).

    One way of reaching the artist is to contact the publisher of that song, as logically they already have a business relation with them.

    Good luck!


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