Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The return of the A&R man to Ireland

Irish acts are getting snapped up by major labels and publishers again with huge money deals in vogue, but is this necessarily a good thing for bands in the long run?

The apple of an A&R's man's eye: The Academic

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 09:55


It’s not just certain sections of the Dublin property market which are seeing boomtime conditions again. Those who keep track on the comings and goings of new Irish acts will know that an A&R frenzy has returned to the market.

In the past 18 months, a sizeable clutch of Irish acts like Hozier, The Strypes, Bleeding Heart Pigeons, Hudson Taylor, Soak and Rosie Carney have signed deals with major labels and publishers.

Some of these deals have been astronomical. The deals which Rubyworks signed with Universal and Columbia for licensing Hozier are reportedly staggering in every regard, from advances to confirmed marketing spends.

You and I may have thought that the days of record labels wooing Irish acts with such deals were over, but you and I were very much mistaken. Regardless of whether it’s a good or a bad thing, the A&R scouts are back and they’ve plenty of cash if something catches their eye or ear.

Right now, Mullingar act The Academic are experiencing this sort of attention. A bunch of A&R scouts showed up in Dingle last month to catch the band’s Other Voices’ appearance and the fuss has been ramped up since. Having a hotshot music business lawyer singing your praises is always a good move.

But big deals bring big pressures. Record labels may be bullish at present when it comes to new talent, yet the time and patience to develop these acts is not always there. If an act doesn’t do the business on their first or second album, there’s unlikely to be a third album on that label.

All that money pumped into the act has to be recouped too and the beady eyes of the business affairs’ department are always on the bottom line. For all the flurry of A&R activity, acts interested in long-run sustainability need to proceed with caution.