“Networking is essential. You definitively have to know a lot of people.” (Tjark Hartwig, A&R-Manager, Four Music, Sony Music Germany)
When an artist decides to pursue his passion professionally, he has to make a variety of decisions: Who can help me with what matters? How do I have to perform? How do I connect to any contacts I need? Do I actually need a label? These are all questions that a young artist deals with - but not only the artist, labels also deal with exactly these topics: How can your own network be expanded? What does an artist need to be signed and where can I find these artists?
About this topic, tamanguu talked to Tjark Hartwig, A&R-Manager at the Berlin record label Four Music.
Tjark himself describes his job, “artist & repertoire”, as connection between the record companies and the artist or the artist manager. The main task of an A&R manager is to acquire new artists and discover new talents. Now it is an intransparent field for many artists how to be “discovered” by a label. Tjark describes the search process - like all his work - as non-standardized. He listens to physical tapes sent to him with elaborate covers and booklets, receives e-mails, browses through Soundcloud and YouTube, attends concerts or listens to musicians on the street.
Three hints by Tjark for artists and artist management:
Ultimately, the essential point in working in the music business is networking. It depends on knowing a lot of people, says Tjark. And that’s the essence of every player in the music industry, no matter if artist, manager or service provider: You need to get attention and the relevant people need to like what you do and you as a person. A suitable and constantly expanding network is therefore a must-have.
Industry meetings such as the Reeperbahn Festival, where 24/7 networking takes place, are not only for managers. Even as an artist you have the chance to meet new people and to introduce yourself and your projects. Personal contact is also essential with regard to the collaboration between label and artist, because as we all know: it’s a people’s business. The personal component is particularly important to Tjark, because the artist has to match the label and vice versa. The artist literally carries a label with which he should fully identify.
Hint: Besides the music, the personal component is essential. Find a network that suits you - musically and personally.
Tjark wants to counter the myth that you have to be a fully developed artist with a perfect demo to get a label deal. Ideally, according to Tjark, the artist should have the talent to write his own songs, a great voice, charisma and something to tell. Above all, content is extremely important: knowing your story and knowing how to tell it is already a plus. But there is no such thing as the perfect artist. Sometimes it can just be an emotion that he or she conveys. It is the certain relationship between these qualities and finally Tjark sees it as his task to complete the “total package” by working out and adding yet to mature characteristics. Before this collaboration happens, however, it is ideally the task of the artist manager to arrange the artist’s characteristics and work out the story in order to generate attention. The finished package does not have to exist yet, but as an artist or artist manager you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and be open for change and development.
Hint: Have something to tell and be open to new things.
“You don’t have to do anything anyway,” says Tjark. You don’t have to go to a label to be successful, you’re a good musician without a label. Ultimately, the decisive factor is what the artist brings along. The added value of a professional environment has an impact on the network in particular. To be successful in the long run, the artist must be able to focus on his passion and talent, while a network of managers, booking agencies, publishers, etc. can work on the external and internal impact. DIY has its legitimacy nowadays. “First and foremost, you write a really awesome song,” says Tjark. You can promote it yourself via the social media, with Soundcloud and other relevant platforms and digital distributors. At a certain point, however, which is achieved through a certain range, label structures are helpful in terms of manpower.
Hint: If you or your artist already have a large network, a release in DIY style is quite feasible and useful. If you don’t have this, the crucial network can be developed by working with a label, because “networking is essential. You definitively have to know a lot of people” - the A&R as well as the artist and artist manager.
Further tips on networking are given by our interview partners in our video series “The Power of Networking”: .
- Eva Ries (Artist Manager of RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan)
- Leandra Preissler (artist manager of Mine and Novaa)
Also interesting in this context:
In this sense: Happy Networking!