Interview with Plasmapool A&R: Keys to Swimming in the Pool of Talent
As a part of our feature article series “How to properly submit a demo to a label?” we have the honor to introduce you to the Artist and Repertoire person at Plasmapool Media Entertainment. Most likely, this is the first person who sees your letter and listens to your demo when you send something to the label. There are more than 20 sub-labels with different blends of music that might be suitable for your genre. Unlike general articles about submitting demos, we are glad to bring you a direct insight into the mind of the relentless person who listens to new music probably even in his sleep.. So if you are a striving producer looking for that perfect label, you might want to sharpen your wit and pay attention to the hereby revelations. Words & music ahead, enjoy!
1. So, give us a little bit of background about yourself. What label do you work for, and what are you in charge of?
Hi, my name is Dario and I work for the publishing house Plasmapool Media Entertainment, representing the company as head A&R. Currently, Plasmapool is running 26 in-house labels (mainly genre-separated) and release and publish music of over 2.000 artists.
My job is 50% artist communication and 50% signing new talent to the company.
2. Who are some of the artists you’ve taken under your wing?
During the last decade, I signed a lot of talent from all EDM genres. Starting from artists such as Mord Fustang, Joe Garston, Matroda and house legend Ron Carroll all the way to techhouse superstars Pleasurekraft and many many more.
3. Getting on to the topic of submitting demos. How many do you actually get per day?
That really differs from day to day and from season to season. But I’d say we receive an average amount of new submissions from unsigned artists of approximately 60-80 new demos every day – randomly peaking of up to 150 submissions.
4. Do you go through them by yourself or are there more people involved?
We have 2 departments: the TRXX label group (5 labels), which is A&R’ed by my helping hand Josh – and the inner Plasmapool Label group, which I take care of personally. I pre-select all interesting demos and listen to them quite a few times, before I make a decision and contact appropriate artist or group, for offering them an artist licensing deal. I think Josh is handling it pretty much the same way.
5. How much time do you spend daily going through new music?
…hours and hours and hours. It’s not easy filtering the right sound and the right kind of artists, that we want to have signed to our company. We (A&Rs) always have to know ahead of time, what style of music is going to be interesting in 1-3 months. Considering that, my job is mainly like looking into the future of the EDM industry, to have the perfect matching music available at the time it’s needed.
6. How long do you think it’s possible to listen to music straight (and really concentrate on what you’re listening to)?
After almost 15 years in business you get the trick. Sometimes it only takes 1 second to know, a song is GO or NO-GO. But since I love all kinds of electronic music, it literally plays the whole day in the background. I assume, I am already immune to getting tired of music or losing concentration at all, after listening to new tracks for hours. Well, it’s a passion!
7. As today’s EDM scene is getting more and more lopsided, what are the aspects you look for when you are listening to demos?
Since we are a big company with so many labels, I must consider all styles of music, trends and current “mainstream” to feed all our labels. But it also puts me in the situation, that I can clearly filter certain new styles, put them on one label and kinda “direct” follow up productions from external producers into a certain direction. If A&Rs wouldn’t do that, I think all producers out there would produce the same kind of music – because that lopsided sound would be the only music available in stores then.
We here at Plasmapool are open for all kinds of new styles – even experimental music – and we love to experiment and develop completely new styles, genres and correlating artists…
8. So if you had to list 5 DO’s for submitting a demo, what would they be?
1) send FULL SONGS only…we sometimes receive LOOPS of only like 16 seconds length and artists then complain, that we didn’t sign them
2) make sure your links WORK! It’s very annoying clicking on dead links, that forward you to error pages!
3) put your best track on top of your list (when sending multiple tracks) – that increases your chance, that we listen to your other material as well
4) write something about yourself…I love reading artists’ information, while listening to their music
5) keep sending us new material…even if we didn’t reply to your first demo submission or even if we forwarded your demo to one of our partnering companies and you got signed there. That doesn’t neccessarily mean, your material is not good…it just might have not fit into what we were looking for at that moment!
9. And what are the 5 DON’TS?
1) do not send a “remake” of Beatport’s current chart topping tracks – we rather want FRESH ideas!
2) do not send REMIXES or tracks, that contain sampled or unlicensed material from other labels! We delete such submissions without comment!
3) do not BUY any “ghost written” songs from artists and send them to us as “your” production. there are people out there, that record songs from eg. soundcloud profiles and sell such files as actual “productions” to artists!
4) do not bother A&Rs, asking over and over again, whether they received and listened to your music already. Frequent mailbombs lead to getting added to spam-lists!
5) do not send us the same material over and over again and do not send us country music or hiphop…you should actually know, what music a label/company is releasing, at least!
10. Do you prefer digital or physical promos?
digital…it’s all faster now 😉
11. How many artists actually manage to get their music over correctly?
…we have a high rate of professional artists, compared to a small rate of newcomers. So I’d say over 90% deliver their material properly (without me getting headaches) 😀
12. Given that they’ve gotten their music over fine, and you liked it. What’s next?
First I’d allocate a new act to one of our label groups and give the artist access to our online artist allocation and reporting system “Artistportal”, where virtual contracts are waiting to be reviewed and signed.
Then, artists receive detailed information about file formats and after we received all audio (and maybe graphic files), the artist can lean back and watch us work 😉
13. And finally, how many of those artists do you end up signing? Approximately in a month? Year?
Numbers vary of course, but during the last 12 months, we signed exactly 397 new artists, which makes average 33 per month…so 1 per day