Our Mission at AWAL is to Partner with independent artists to tell stories that shape culture. Our role is to amplify what’s going on for artists and when they’re gaining more traction that means there’s more we need to be doing. We’re very proud of our track record supporting exciting developing artists at early stages of their career but also at helping them push onto the next level of their career. The broad channels of the service are described on the website here. Whether people are looking for support growing a team or a more bespoke agreement, international support etc we are able to lean in more at the right time.
The relationship starts with the A&R team and that doesn’t stop as projects develop through the AWAL ecosystem. From the early gigs they attend to the late nights eagerly awaiting a timed release or the mid-weeks, the A&R team are invested all the way through. We caught up with Pete Giberga to run a few questions past him.
1/ Given our mission at AWAL is “to Partner with independent artists and help them tell stories that shape culture” - what are you looking for as the head of the A&R team?
The decisions we make are very relevant to the mission and fall into a few buckets. When it comes to being successful we have to ask hard questions… Is the repertoire compelling? Do we have a star in the making? Is there a foundation of a business that’s growing? And lastly, really critically, do they have something to them and a willingness to outwork everyone around them.
2/ What can the A&R team do to empower artists who partner with AWAL?
It’s OK that artists might overvalue themselves at some points. It takes gumption to pursue a career in music. If your ideal relationship is that you sign with us, turn around and look at us, and say “break me”... we’re going to come unstuck. We avoid relationships like this from the outset. That’s not the way we should be working.
3/ What do you look for in a project you would partner most closely with and what things might sometimes hold you back from committing more resources to a project?
The artist who understands themselves vs those who don't. That’s a huge part of the development of an artist. We’ve all heard a hundred amazing singers but if they don’t know who they’re trying to be... their ability to deliver an amazing story… that’s going to make an already challenging profession an incredible undertaking.
4/ Do you have an example of a project that you picked up with AWAL and has done well with us?
[AG Club (Avante Garde Club) are a Hiphop act form the Bay Area, including Baby Boy, Jody Fontaine, and Mick Antony, among others who have been blowing up. You can check them out on their upcoming tour here]
We signed them during the pandemic and while we never got the opportunity to truly help them develop with live touring being included as a part of the game plan, they ended up being as credible as we hoped they would be.
We also really broke the ice on what we are hoping someday to accomplish with hip hop and r&b.
Incredibly bright future in front of them.
5/ Are there restrictions on the artists you would want to work with in a territorial sense?
Not sure if you meant where they are from or where we market…but here goes… None.
I want to work with special artists and the idea that they will come from the territories that we feel strongest in is unrealistic.
Who thought that an Icelandic artist like Bjork would become such an important artist and star - someone with a career that most just dream about?
6/ You’ve worked in artist management as well - why have you tended towards the A&R space over other parts of the business?
The desire to work on a wholly creative level with artists with music creation being the centerpiece. While management absolutely houses that role as well, I think my line of thinking has been much more drawn to the record company side of developing artists. The experience I have had in management has taught me so much about not skipping steps, even if those don’t look relevant to the record company path. All of it leads to success in streaming….so all of it is worth understanding.
In conclusion, the A&R team is looking for pro-active artists, willing to outwork everyone around them and who have a story to tell to an engaged fanbase. Of course it’s a big ask and the rest of the AWAL gang are on hand to do what we can to help the stars align as you develop earlier on too.
Big thanks to Pete for his insights here and of course the incredible work he and his team do to champion the artists we’re working with. If you’d like to see more from the team we’ve been running some behind the scenes interviews so you can get insights from some of the other brightest things in the industry. Check out this video from Richie Marcello, Director of Global Synch & Brand Partnerships at AWAL.
That’s all folks! ✌️