Industry 101: Conrad Dimanche
Industry 101 breaks down exactly what an A&R does, at least at Bad Boy Entertainment. In a candid interview, Senior Bad Boy A&R Conrad Dimanche talks about his job, Making the Band, and just how serious the online game has become.
DX: Can you clarify for me exactly what an A&R doesI know that it differs depending on the label. What do you actually do on a day-to-day basis?
CD: At Bad Boy, were very hands-on with the music. [With] Puff being [an] A&R-turned-CEO, I was trained and groomed. So Im over every aspect of production on an album both creative and administrative. We have an admin department that does a lot of the admin shit, but [my job is] just overseeing and making sure that people get paid on time and negotiating with all the producers and writers. A big part of my job is finding the music. Music is the gas for any record company to make it run... so my job is to pump premium gas into the car, all day, everyday. Being the only A&R here, its a lot of work as far as finding the right music. I live in the studio; my office is in the studio. I really dont go to our main office unless its for a big executive meeting or something. Its about finding the right tracks and developing the right sound for each individual artist. I also utilize the internet to help me because there are only so many producers that I can reach out to and call, but the internet has dudes all over the world with great sounds. I go to Pmpwordwide.com and Myspace to find hot new producers and artists for that matter as well thats really about it. Working hand-in-hand with the producers, the writers, and the artists giving direction from the first track to the very last song. And then making sure that we dont go over-budget. And finding new ways to save money with the recording as well as the producers and the writers fees and all that, and dealing with the lawyers and the production companiestheres a lot of micromanaging.
DX: What types of things do you look for in terms of artist talent?
CD: Great talent as far as ability to write great hit recordstimeless music. Great personality. You know, todays consumers are not just buying into a song, unless its a ringtone, but theyre buying into an artist. People really want to be like that artist. They want to love the artist. That personality, that star power; call it charisma. If its a rapper, then Im looking for unique tone and flow. Definitely work ethic is very important in todays market. For rappers, we try to look for artists with substance that talk about what they want to talk about, something that hasnt been said before. And if youre saying something thats been said before, youre saying it in a way that hasnt been said before.
DX: Obviously talent search TV shows have had a lot of success. Im interested in your personal take on shows like American Idol and Making the Band and how they affect your job
CD: Well I mean its a beautiful thing. Of course, its TV, so certain things that go onyou have the producers trying to make it exciting for the viewersbut I mean its a great marketing and promotions tool. When you talk about having an audience of millions being aware of an artist is valuable. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get that kind of awareness through marketing and promotions awareness. Also, the general way we go about marketing and promoting, a good deal of that is trying to get an emotional connection between an artist and the consumer. Its an emotional thing, to have a person go to the store and buy a CD and want to actually physically own the CD. So its definitely a great tool that invites the consumer, the viewer into the artists life.
DX: Whats Bad Boys reputation when it comes to A&R in the industry?
CD: I think it would have to be people know that were very hands-on with the music and we really know how to develop artists and produce superstars. Thats what it comes down to. Thats what we do inside of these walls, the regimen that go through as far as recording and knowing how to make great records, and everything about being a great artist.
DX: I spoke to 8Ball & MJG a little while ago, and 8Ball told me that they didnt really feel like they are a part of the Bad Boy family. How much family is there really in the industry?
CD: As far as Bad Boy, were definitely one big family. Of course every artist is always gonna want a great amount of attention, especially from Puff. You know, maybe thats what Im here for, what Harve [Pierre] is here for. Puff is the chairman, but he has other companies. So youre gonna get that from artists sometimes, if maybe they feel like they didnt get enough attention and it becomes a Puffy thing, but really theres people in place. I was very involved in their project and Im sure [8Ball] would agree to that. Im not sure why he would say that.
DX: How much of an artists success is due to an artists promotion versus their actual raw talent and ability?
CD: In general, I think it comes down to the raw talent and ability. Promotion is great for awareness, but the people todayconsumers are very smart. You cant fool them, man, you gotta...the music has to be great. Thats why we put so much focus on making good music, not rushing out any one particular project. When we put it out, we feel confident that its right. And we have the track record to say well we feel thats its right, so its right. Our ratio as far as our gold and platinum albums against what we put out, will far pass the ratio of any other label.
DX: Address the critics that say Bad Boy has gotten away from real Hip Hop with artists like Danity Kane and the new solo artist Donny
CD: What is that? Man! Were a record company. What record company just wants to stay in one genre of music. It doesnt make sense financially. It doesnt make sense to limit yourself in terms of what kind of music youre going to put out and what type of artist youre going to sign. We gotta spread our wings and really grow as a companywhich weve been doing.
DX: How have independent labels affected life at a major like Bad Boy?
CD: I dont think it has affected Bad Boy per se. I think its a good thing for an artist to have the option of going with a major or going indie. Theres pros and cons for both of those types of choices. Whats cool in the music business, about Hip Hop in general, is that Hip Hop started with the smaller labels, so depending on what the artist needs and what he wants to get out of it will determine whether he wants to be at a major or do the indie thing.
DX: What is the overall role of sites like Myspace and Pmpworldwide.com in the big scheme of things? Is the internet game as really as crucial as it sounds?
CD: Absolutely. The internet is something that we have to embrace. I think sites like Myspace give artists a great place to promote themselves, its a great thing. A site like Pmpworldwide for producers for me it makes my job a lot easier to be able to reach out to producers from all over the world- hot producers that werent on my radar before. Also, it makes my life easier. I can just get up in the morning at my crib and log on to Myspace and check out some artists and log on to PMP and check out some producers and go through beats at home. Its very convenient. It cuts down on the amount of meetings I have to take. There are a lot of well-established producers on there as well, and its a great solution for finding them.