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We are at a perilous point in time in this industry. The quality of products released has been replaced by quantity. The days of qualified A&R practices are long gone and as a result the accepted standard of quality has been far lowered. Consequently, the consumer is suffering because of it.

Is there a young Snuffy Garrett out there...I haven't found one. But, if you are him, get in touch with me, I would love to talk to you. What has happened to the A&R individual whose job it was to find, sign, and guide talent, including matching songs to singers and running recording sessions. Find me an A&R man who can actually read a music chart during a session. The A&R task now lies with producers who aren't even staffed by labels anymore.

As I spoke with a friend at one of the biggest one-stops in the nation, he related that 1998 was their worst year ever. Nothing is moving. The majors urge him to stock 10,000 pieces of substandard product, just to show movement in the trades. Out of necessity to preserve his business, he has thankfully stopped this practice.

Forgoing all of the postulating and debating as to what current trends are developing, it still remains clear that quality music sells. No matter which format, it creates "shelf life"...a necessity for the longevity of any label.

In closing, I relate a recent personal quote from a friend. He is a disenchanted 30-year veteran from Capitol who just recently retired. His thought clearly illustrates the importance of shelf life and the need for quality compositions better than this writer ever could: "Without the Beatles, this place would be a shoe factory."

~Jim Ervin
Warrior Records