The major labels think there’s a British pop talent crash:
One response, if you are a major, is to send your entire A&R department around the country to find out what people want to listen to (and, more importantly, buy). The label doing this, which can’t be named, has instructed its team to speak to promoters, club owners and others connected to local music scenes, until they have an idea of why new acts aren’t connecting. It has been spurred by the fact that this is the time of year when the frontrunners for 2017’s next-big-thing polls should be gathering at the starting gate. However, according to another insider, there is an unprecedented lack of viable hopefuls, let alone those with the potential to be the next Sam Smith, Adele or even James Bay.
“There’s nothing on the horizon, no music scene at the moment. It seems to be that the talent isn’t out there, [or if it is] they don’t know what to do with it,” says the label source.
Now, I know the major label industry prefers artists who are both under 25 and conventionally pretty, and much of the best music is made by people who don’t meet either of those criteria. But is there really a shortage of talent out there, or just a shortage of talent willing to work for the major label sausage machine under the major label’s terms?
Are these gatekeepers even still relevant? Yes, there are still people out there who don’t listen to anything that hasn’t been endorsed by those gatekeepers, but the relative failure of the ridiculously-hyped Jack Garratt suggests that even these people aren’t willing to swallow any old rubbish.
As readers of this blog will know, there are many acts out there who blow most of the overhyped major-label hopefuls completely out of the water. The commercial mainstream has never heard of these people. Perhaps the reason they’re not ubiquitous stars is because they don’t actually want to be?