In celebration of its continuing commitment to the intersection of music and technology, The Recording Academy, for the sixth time, recognized the pioneers and influencers at the Youtube Space L.A.’s, official Grammy Week event: “Grammy Connect — The New A&R.”

The new Youtube space boasts a 41,000 square foot creative lab and has a plethora of production stages, green screens, cameras, lights, sound gear, electrical and grip equipment. The space also has production labs and private editing suites. The panel itself was held in the right lobby reception area. There were over one hundred attendees. Fated lovers Us The Duo opened up the show with an acoustic performance of “No Matter Where You Are.”

The event was moderated by the infamous TV/radio host and entrepreneur DJ Skee, who posed the question “What is the new definition of A&R”?

Industry leaders and professionals who participated in the panel were:
  • Michael and Carissa Alvarado — Us The Duo
  • Margaret Hart — Artist & Label Relations, YouTube Music
  • Brad Haugen — CMO, SB Projects
  • Jonathan Kalter — The MGMT Company
  • Alex Wilhelm — Sr. Director A&R, Capitol Music Group

They discussed their roles and how the job has changed. Hart gave valuable insight into the formula that makes Youtube a premium outlet for artists and vice versa. The impact youtube and the internet has had on the industry was an important topic in the conversation. Each panelist weighed in what content is successful, what the fans want and how to stay consistent.

A larger theme, which was explored is how technology has impacted the music industry. Users have the ability to spread information faster than ever. How does this affect the relationship between the label, the artist, the manager, the fans and everything else encompassed within that? How has the role of an A&R changed thanks to technology and how has that affected their relationships with artists?

The answer is, not much has changed. An A&R is like a creative director. They are expert on what works and the next steps an artist should take. Ultimately it’s about engaging with your fans and making them active participants in your brand and having good music, of course. Artists need to put themselves in a position to be listened to. Old school A&R artist development still exists.

The 5 person a cappella ensemble known as Pentatonix closed the show with their single “Telephone.” Their harmonies were uncanny. It was a fabulous and informative panel.

Darius Stone contributed reporting.