How did record labels in the 60’s find musicians?

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Record labels have a responsibility to find musicians to manage and represent. This is something which has changed dramatically through the years due to the growth of the internet. Join us and take a stroll down memory lane to explore the methods record labels in the 60’s used to take to find the next musicial icons.

The 60’s

Whatever kind of music you create and wherever your musical passions lie, it’s hard to argue against the transformative effect of 60’s music on pop culture. This decade gave us some of the most iconic acts of all time, and precipitated a full-blown cultural revolution. This is the decade that brought us Woodstock, free love and counterculture.

It gave us Hendricks, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Janice Joplin, The Supremes, Pink Floyd, The Doors and, of course Elvis. The list goes on and on. Some of these icons of pop died tragically young, while others went on to create opportunities for others (Paul McCartney is co-founder of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) while others turned their hands to other art forms (Keith Richards is a really excellent painter).

how did record labels in the 60's find musicians?
The Beatles in the 60’s

But how did these rock gods and soul sisters get their big break? What were the forces that put microphones in their hands and allowed them to communicate with not just an entire generation, but the generations that came after and grew up listening to their music?

How did record labels in the 60’s find musicians?

The role of talent scouts

We all know the story of Brian Epstein, the “Fifth Beatle” who helped to catapult the iconic quartet to mega-stardom. A self-appointed manager who was, first and foremost, a fan. In hindsight, he may not have been the greatest businessman but is passion was undeniable. But not every act had their own Epstein.

Many were discovered by talent scouts who were either working for record companies or operating independently. Jimi Hendrix, for instance, was probably wondering how to get a record label and how to find musicians to work with, until he was discovered by Bryan “Chas” Chandler– the bassist for The Animals who was also moonlighting as a talent scout.

The role of a talent scout is simple. To find and recruit promising musical talent in their natural habitat… live performance. One of the most prolific examples of a record company talent scout was Columbia Records’ John Hammond who discovered a diptych of working class heroes by signing Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

find musicians
Brian Epstein

What is A&R?

If you’re an aspiring musician, you may have heard other artists talk about A&R people floating around in the audience at a gig. Artists & Repertoire departments are known as the gatekeepers of the music industry and the people responsible for finding musicians and giving emerging artists their “big break”. This article by Medium does a good job of explaining how A&R works.

How times have changed

As Zimmerman himself said, “The times, they are a-changin’”. The internet has transformed the music industry and the way in which musicians make their voices heard. Anyone with a YouTube channel or a Soundcloud account can share their music with the world. While, of course, we still have record labels and talent scouts, the nature of how we consume music has become far more democratized.

Final Thoughts

Here at Cosound, we believe that the future of music is in community. In artists supporting one another without the need for the industry to rely on gatekeeping A&R departments.

Does that sound good to you? Check out our community page and download the app to get involved!

We hope this has fuelled your quest for knowledge and answered your question… How did record labels in the 60’s find musicians? Let us know your thoughts!


Steve Allinson

Coming soon