Yes, it’s important to get opinions on your tracks from friends in other bands, your friends, and people in your circle. If you’re hoping to get traction in the industry, however, it makes sense to get insights from people working in the industry.
Davis agrees that having an existing fan base does pique the interest of A&R folks, but that it’s the ability to craft amazing songs that comes first. This ability is something that artists can build over time.
He explains, “I hear a lot of talk today about social media numbers, about growing a following. All those things are good. All those things are important but the biggest disconnect I see between an up-and-coming artist and what the industry is looking for is truly great songs.
“Because getting truly amazing songs is so hard and because when you’re starting out you can’t really see where the bar is, it takes many years of rejection and thinking you have it and realizing you don’t for that bar to naturally grow and for you to become aware of what is truly great and what is not.
“It’s so easy for artists to get attached to what they’re creating because they’re writing and creating songs that are coming from true stories or really deep emotions.
“Obviously aspiring artists are so hopeful because this is a dream they have and the dream is so intense. They go into studio situations wanting so badly for it to be great and they can easily convince themselves it’s great. I think one of the biggest keys if you’re an aspiring artist, is to not be too precious about what you’re creating.
“Seek counsel and ask for counsel from the people around you, the people you’re meeting, the fans you’re meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask people what they truly think of a song. A lot of times you create a song and you so badly want people to love it like you do that you kind of skip the part of really seeking other people’s thoughts on ‘what do I have and what don’t I have?’
“I see a lot of up-and-coming artists getting a little too precious about what they’re creating and holding on to it a little too tightly…then maybe a year or two of their life goes by and they realize they actually didn’t nail it and they have to go back to the drawing board.
“The artist’s cycle of writing and recording can sometimes be a year, it can be six months or two years. That’s a long time to waste when you’re working behind a product that’s not going to get you anywhere.”
To circumvent the issue of getting overly attached to your songs, he suggests that “having an A&R Person who’s a great editor of songs and who can identify really good songs versus great songs is more important than it has ever been. I would say that somebody who can identify a truly great song, a potential hit song, is more important than maybe it was even twenty years ago.”