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In 2020, industries of all types have been forced to quickly recalculate their means and modes of business. They’ve had to dig deep and innovate, creating ways to stay afloat in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. The music business is no stranger to this. Already mercurial by nature, it has been heavily reliant upon digital and online marketing, advertising, and sales for quite a few years now, and the pandemic has pushed the music business to be even more malleable than ever.

Online publication reviews, YouTube and synch placements, and Spotify and Apple Music features and playlists are like gold to both the independent and signed artist. A review of a song via a music blog or online magazine can garner an artist some serious buzz. It can capture the ears and curiosity of upwards of tens of thousands of potential fans. There’s an old saying that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, and while that’s a bit simplistic in a lot of ways, it is highly true when it comes to gaining exposure for aspiring artists, musicians, and producers. 

Today, I was able to interview Dean Cramer, founder of the well-crafted and highly-regarded online music publication “Kings of A&R.” Created roughly twenty years ago, Kings of A&R was the first of its kind. Dean began making his mark well before social media became the phenomenon it is presently. We work closely with Dean, and we wanted to dive into Kings of A&Rs history and process. Read the interview below to learn about Dean, his love for music, and Kings of A&R.

 

Dean Cramer | Founder, Kings of A&R

— THE INTERVIEW —

ZOD: 
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what exactly Kings of A&R is and does. 

DC: 
I’m very curious. I always enjoyed figuring out how things work. I also enjoy experimenting and building. Kings of A&R is a intelligent music site. I say intelligent because everything I post whether it’s perspective piece, commentary or an opinion article, I hope a reader takes something away from it.  Kings has a really cool community of readers. When I highlight an artist, it may evolve into a discussion. The goal is to elevate the artist. Many of the artists that are highlighted find themselves in a better position whether they land on a editorial or personal playlist or land on another music blog. 

ZOD:
How long has Kings of A&R been around? What was the initial inspiration in creating this blog/site?

DC: 
Kings has been around for 20 years – before social media ever existed. Kings was the first music blog in its class. I met someone recently who said the music business ripped a page from the kings of A&R playbook. At the time when I started the site, there was no outlet for artists. I was inspired to create a platform for artists. 

ZOD:
What does a typical day look like running your blog? Are you constantly scouring to find new and exciting artists to cover, and what exactly are you looking to find? 

DC:
The first thing I do when I wake up is go through emails, skim through music news, charts, and data.  It’s my daily ritual. As far as the rest of the day, I have no structure and I try to keep it creative. I tend to highlight artists that fit the kings theme which is current and edgy. 

ZOD:
Who was the last artist you came across that really inspired you and made you excited to cover? 

DC: There have been several, but recently I really like Clide and Lee Cole. Both are fantastic songwriters and are nicely building a resume. 

ZOD:
You and Zodlounge have worked together for years. Can you tell me a little bit about how that got started and where the relationship is pointing today?

DC: 
I believe it was Brett Vargason that emailed me artists they were collaborating with. I thought they were really good. I started giving the artists shoutouts and with their hardwork, many of those artists landed TV placements. Today, I have a great collaborative relationship with the Zodlounge team. They are great working with artists and have a true passion for the art. Most importantly, they are just great people. I say that because personality is important to make a collaboration work. 

ZOD:
Can you give me some insider information on the state of pop music’s evolution in today’s digital-content driven world? 

DC: 
I’m not sure it’s evolution or de-evolution. I’ll just say this. An artist must have three qualities. A fantastic vocal, a unique songwriting ability, and performance. If those things are mastered, you’ll more likely survive the shifting environment.

ZOD:
I like to end these by asking the contributor to give one piece of advice to artists or folks preparing to work in the music industry. What would be your advice? 

DC: 
I don’t want to sound motivational, but love what you do, because  the only way to do great work is to love what you do. In all seriousness, it’s the truth. 

 

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Hit us up at 615-491-7053 or email Tom at tom@zodlounge.com