By Jimi Heath
Is it a good idea to show a record label that you are versatile or is it best to have all the songs on your album be in the same genre?

It's definitely a better idea to have all your songs in the same genre, and here's why:

The entire music industry runs on formats. Radio stations are formatted; therefore, the material the labels pitch to the stations needs to fit neatly in those formats. Have you ever noticed that urban stations only play urban music, country stations only play country, and rock stations only play rock music? That's because each station fits a certain demographic. Country stations run ads for cowboy boots and saddle soap, urban stations push products that appeal to the urban lifestyle, and rock stations... well I'm not really sure what the heck they push. But you can bet that it fits the rock lifestyle.

Now imagine that you are an A&R guy in love with a new artist or band. You walk into the weekly A&R meeting, play a great track for your associates, and they love it. When they hear the second track they quickly realize that it's inconsistent with the genre of the first song that they love, and any potential the artist had for getting a deal is now most likely dead in the water because the A&R weasels know that they can't get the radio creeps to push an act on a rock radio station that also has urban, country and jazz tracks on the same album.

Unfortunately, its not like the good ole' '70s when you could turn on a station and hear Stairway to Heaven, then Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, then You've Got a Friend, and Smoke on the Water. Things are just so tightly formatted these days, if you don't fit neatly into their pigeon holes, you've pretty much killed your chance at scoring a deal.

I received my TAXI critique and got high scores, but wasn't forwarded, what gives?

The scores on the review sheets actually don't have anything to do with whether or not a song is forwarded. That decision is made by the screener based on their gut feeling about a song and it's appropriateness for a given listing.

The numerical scores are just a way to give you an idea of that A&R staffer's opinion of a song's relative strengths and weaknesses. We don't total up the score and forward everything over a certain number, for instance.

There are differences between listings, too. A music library listing might be an easier forward than a major Nashville label, for example. In fact, Nashville listings tend to be really tough. It's a tough town. The stuff we forward needs to stand up next to the material that an A&R person or producer is getting from major publishers and writers they know who have already written hits.

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