May 18, 2024

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STEREOBUZZ MUSIC INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Exclusive interview with ‘Dean Cramer’ the founder of ‘Kings of A&R’

Dean Cramer founded the music site Kings of A&R disrupting the music industry and the traditional way of finding artists.
With mentions in popular news sources including CNN, UK’s Financial Times, Billboard Mag, & Spin Mag – Kings of A&R first gained its popularity in 1999 with its first-in-kind entertainment blog and industry newsletter.
Kings of A&R is a well-known for setting tastes in music, discovering unknown talent, & placing A-list artists on their blog first including Twenty One Pilots, The Killers, The Fray, and Katy Perry. 

When did you create site Kings of A&R?
In 1999. It was the first music blog.  I created the site when I was working for a music label in NYC. I wanted to see if I could pick the HITS and the upcoming artists. I found a web coder in Canada and he created this one page column site that I could edit myself. Mind you, I started the site before MYSPACE and before social media existed. Billboard wasn’t even online.
And how did the site rise to popularity?
Definitely from word-of-mouth. I started featuring artists that were getting known. We profiled artists such as the Killers, The Fray, Katy Perry and One Republic. It got to the point when we featured an artist, they were packing out hotspots around the world filled with entertainment execs looking for the next big artist. Then I started making friends with managers, producers, songwriters, and label execs. Ironically, they were asking me for advice. They started sending me artists and wanted my opinion.
So you’ve seen countless artists start with rough recordings and end in arenas. Can you give us memorable story. 
One Republic comes to mind. I was sent the first recording of the mega-hit track Apologize. This was before they had any type of deal. I uploaded the mp3 to the site. A few days later the hosting company emailed me telling me I was overloading their server. I was a bit confused. I asked them what was slowing down their server and they pointed to a mp3 which was Apologize. It was being downloaded thousands of times. That was first. I wasn’t surprised that the song became a huge smash hit.
What was your first job in the music business?
I was friends with a band that had signed with A&M records. I met the manager of the band who became my mentor teaching me the in’s and out’s. He made me tour manager of the band and I ended traveling with the band overseas to Brazil and Czech Republic.
Can you think of a funniest moment that you faced?
I was repping an artist who was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. I packed my suitcase and was off to NYC. The suitcase was big because I was going on the road with the artist right after the award ceremony. The day of the music awards I lost my phone and the taxi cab driver drove off with my suitcase.  I can laugh about it now. A truly memorable day.
What would be your advice to artists?
Well, you have to tell an inspirational story.  You want to be relatable since your fans are imagining themselves as you. You want to be suspenseful. Audiences love a good journey on an uneven pavement. Never be afraid to share your struggles. Having special songs precedes everything.
Do you look for a certain type of artist? What attributes must they have?
I always want be around hungry artists that want to win. Obviously artists that don’t fear failure. I mean, failure and set backs are part of winning. But artists that learn from failure are the ones who are more out to win. The key is to stay in the game and give yourself chances to win.