Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Creatives need to ‘ooze presence over Zoom’

Published:Monday | May 11, 2020 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
YouTuber Annesha Adams takes pride in creating bright and colorful images to share on Instagram. Even though she only has a little over 5,000 followers, her likes and engagement are very high because of the quality images. She also shares hacks on how to create these images on her YouTube channel.
Stylist Kristia Franklin uses her personal brand to attract brand partnerships and clients.
Photographer Rock Staar is one of the creatives interviewed for the creatives of the future series ebook.

RECORD DEALS are still sexy, but closed borders and social distancing have changed the game. As the COVID-19 pandemic maintains its grip on the entertainment industry, major label A&R executives have had to adjust their recruitment/head-hunting practices. Instead of travelling for meetings, going to showcases of potential future clients, they focus a bit more on virtual analytics.

Local public relations professional Kesi Gardner is on the same page, and has formed a response with her e-book, Creatives of the Future.

In a recent Rolling Stone article, titled ‘To get a record deal right now you’d better ooze presence over Zoom’, it was outlined that artiste and repertoire, or A&R, executives’ jobs have been completely turned on its head since the global lockdown. With responsibility for discovering and signing new talent, the executives often rely on forming personal connections with the acts they’re interested in.

Pete Ganbarg, president of A&R at Atlantic, pointed out that his executives are unable to do the things they tended to with freshly signed, or potential acts. “You can’t do a showcase event, you can’t send an artiste into a radio station, you can’t send an artiste into the offices of Rolling Stone. It’s all transitioned virtually,” Ganbarg said. Without those physical opportunities, he shared that Atlantic has been taking virtual meetings with new artistes, which has raised the bar of who to sign higher than ever before.


Ezekiel Lewis, the head of A&R at Epic Records, said, “It requires a touch and feel when it comes to committing the company’s resources to a developing act. You have to be that much more particular, that much more picky and more prudent about the process, because the best we’re gonna get is a Zoom call.”

Epic Records Executive Vice-President of A&R Joey Arbagey commented that keeping it virtual has been forcing him to pay more attention to talents’ virtual analytics.

That’s where Gardner’s e-book comes in. She told The Gleaner that since COVID-19, many creatives are at a loss because of limited knowledge of the digital space, and how to effectively take advantage of it.

“I’ve been preaching about personal branding for about seven years. Since watching Gary Vee a couple of years ago, the US-based social media guru who constantly preaches about documenting your story and using your online platform to build relationships, I realised that I needed to write something specifically for the creative industry,” she said.

The e-book is the first part of a plan to help creatives learn how to use their personal brand to tell their story, build relationships, and monetise their platforms. “We are also launching online-based short courses, where people can sign up to learn the basics of how to live blog, how to pitch to brands for sponsorship, how to take great photos, and how to start their own podcasts,” Gardner added.

She expects that not only recording artistes and musicians can benefit from her e-book, but creatives of all practices. While writing the book, she interviewed varied creatives like popular stylist Kristia Franklin, YouTuber Annesha Adams and celebrity photographer Rockstaar. “I looked at their best practices to grow their personal brand and get opportunities,” she said.