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Puff Daddy Cheers On A Young Hopeful At The Lost Art Of A&R Panel

The Lost Art of A&R featured a showstopper who auditioned for the RMC audience.

Adrien Vargas // REVOLT

Story by Maya Medena

"New York, we basically lost our soul. We basically started following other people. And even me included. We started walking like other people, talking like other people."—Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs

The Internet has been a blessing and a curse in more ways than one. The A&R, once key player at every record label, now finds his or herself almost extinct. Breyon Prescott, EVP of A&R at Epic Records said, "YouTube has killed the A&R process."

Initially, an A&R was not only responsible for finding talent and signing them, but also navigating their entire journey with the label. From artist development to scheduling studio time to coordinating promotional appearances, the A&R was the orchestrator of all the behind-the-scenes operations. Today, people can record their own music in their homes, promote it on dozens of online platforms and even go on world tours without the backing of a major label. "It's a magical time to be an artist," said Sickamore, VP of A&R at Epic Records.

All of the A&R panelists shared that their tactics of finding new talent—a mixture of having their ears to the streets and being on top of what's popular in the digital world. They encourage new artists to remain hungry if they're truly passionate about their craft and reassured them that even if they do get picked up by a major, the work doesn't stop there. An artist has to work even harder to get off that "shelf" once signed.

As far as New York goes, the birthplace of hip-hop isn't the dominate force it once was. Sounds have changed in the Big Apple, and the once powerful influencer now has artists making quirker fare. Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs addressed why most of mainstream urban music doesn't come out of the Mecca any longer. "The wave came and New York did what New York never did. It jumped out of its position. We had our own lane. We have our own talk. Our own walk. [We] started making stuff that sounded like other regions."

This relates to notion that east coast artists started to jump on the southern band wagon when artists and groups from that region became more dominant on the airwaves. Diddy finished with "only the song survives. If you're not making a song, at the end of the day, they not gon' remember you."

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