EMI CAPITOL MUSIC GROUP (Capitol/Virgin)
Kim Stephens, A&R, EMI Capitol Music Group (Capitol/Virgin);
President, Forward Entertainment
A&R veteran Kim Stephens has worked with many labels. Over the years he has signed and/or worked with acts such as Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul, Sick Puppies, Saving Abel, Adelitas Way and more. His most impressive stat is that he has been involved with over 50 million worldwide sales.
HOW DID YOU SUSTAIN AN A&R POSITION FOR 20 YEARS?
I’ve been blessed with finding and signing some great artists. I’m always looking for the next one, and every couple of years I usually find an act that interests me. Once I find someone I believe in, it’s just knowing how to develop and market them.
DO ACTS NEED TO BE THE COMPLETE PACKAGE?
In a perfect world that’s what most major labels want. But, it’s not a perfect world and most acts, no matter how accomplished they are, need help in some areas. Some sort of development is usually part of the process.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE ARTIST’S TEAM?
Artists need a great team behind them if they hope to succeed. A strong, knowledgeable manager is most important. Although there are a lot of DIY acts, most can’t do it all on their own. They usually need some kind of support.
HOW LONG IS YOUR COURTING PERIOD?
It could take awhile; it’s not as quick as it used to be. You have to be sure that you can work with an act. But delays are not always the fault of A&R or labels. Sometimes it’s the act’s representatives (managers, lawyers, etc.) who cause the delay. When they get an offer, they’ll shop around for a better deal. It’s risky, though, to do that. You could lose the original offer that way.
ARE LIVE PERFORMANCE SKILLS IMPORTANT?
They are if you’re a touring act, and pop and rock acts must tour. But some of the acts I’ve worked with didn’t have those skills at first. In fact, a couple of them were very weak in that area. It took them some time to develop a strong show. Once they did though, they were great.
DO YOU THINK ROCK WILL BECOME POPULAR AGAIN?
I’ve always been a rock guy, and I think it’s due for a resurgence. Right now, in the UK, it’s very popular. And I believe it will come back strong, but with a different sound. It will probably be less edgy and not as hard, more along the lines of pop-rock.
Artists can email me with links to their music at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not send attachments.