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The Importance of Modern A&R For NARIP’s Mary Bee

Editor’s Note: When I learned Mary Bee was a songwriter, I made certain she met with Mark Mazzetti because I knew that no matter what her skill level, she could benefit from his insight and that he would help her to step up her game. I was right.  In fact, with Mark’s help, Mary is preparing the release of her next album. Read here in her own words the importance of A&R.

NARIP’s Modern A&R Program

Don’t miss NARIP’s Modern A&R program next Tuesday, July 30 in Los Angeles featuring A&R exec Mark Mazzetti and Michael Carey. Click here to get more details and register NOW.

By Mary Bee

When I came to Los Angeles two years ago I wanted to start recording my songs immediately. In the past I always chose my favorites and then went into a studio.

When I first sat down with Mark Mazzetti he told one of his more important functions is to help with song selection. I didn’t understand the significance of this at the time and always assumed that the ones I thought were best were probably the best. What I’ve learned over the last year is how important an objective ear is, especially when attached to someone of Mark’s experience and skills.

I realized that I am too close to my songs to make some of these decisions. Moreover, my friends, family, and listeners tend not to want to tell me when something is not great. Mark is always kind but always tells me what he really thinks – the good AND the bad. If an artist/songwriter doesn’t have someone there to push him to get better and be honest, he will not get grow as much as he could. In this past year I’ve been pushed more than ever before in my life (and I love it!).

In the beginning, I played Mark all my songs and he helped narrow them down to about 10 of the strongest. I thought then, “OK we’re done, yay! Let’s book studio time!” Mark often had to gently say, “There is no rush, let’s keep working and writing. This is good but let’s see what you come up with in the next few months that will only get stronger and stronger.” He wants me to make the best music I can and has no interest in anything less, especially watching me throw away my money on recording songs that are merely “good” when they could be “great.”

Mark helps me shape my songs as well. I show him the a cappella melodies with lyric sheets before I bring them to a pianist and he helps me look at what works and what doesn’t in each song. Often I will bring a song to him a few times with re-writes that he has suggested. He has such a great understanding of song mechanics (for example, short intros, getting to the hook more quickly, elements that make the hook more powerful, transitions, chord changes, etc.).

Like I said, I am too close to my songs sometimes to realize that some things may not strike a chord with someone else. Sometimes a line will make complete sense to me (because it is usually about my life), but he will let me know that it may not be universal or inclusive for the listener. Sometimes it is even just one word that doesn’t work well or interrupts the flow of the song.

I’ve also learned a lot of what makes a song more marketable from NARIP’s Music Supervisor Sessions that I get to sit in on while I work. The guest supervisor feedback makes me think about what I can change in my own music. Mark has attended a good number of NARIP Music Supervisor Sessions as well and we always talk afterwards about what we can take away from each one and put to use in my music. He also comes to writing sessions with pianists as well as production sessions to help with chord structure and technical details (input on instrumentation, arrangements, mixing, effects, etc). And he gives me great advice whenever I need to ask him business related questions or things about promotion and Web sites.

I was so antsy to get new songs recorded but looking back I am so thankful he slowed me down a bit because what we have started recording and what I have to look forward to is, in my opinion, a hundred times stronger than what I wrote last summer, just a year ago! It made me think back to an album I heard recently that made me feel bad for the artist. Her album sounded beautiful, the production was incredible, the girl had an amazing voice, it was so lovely in so many ways but the songs were not well-constructed. A lot of them were repetitive, didn’t go anywhere, and ended up quite boring. The songs were like beautiful, perfect paintings… that meant nothing. Others agreed, and it was suggested that the songwriter go back to the drawing board and re-write and re-record, but so much money had already been spent!

I wonder if I would have been a similar situation if I had not had a great A&R man like Mark Mazzetti on my team.

Thankfully not!

Meet Mazzetti, Mary Bee and Michael Carey at NARIP’s Modern A&R Program

Don’t miss NARIP’s Modern A&R program next Tuesday, July 30 in Los Angeles featuring A&R exec Mark Mazzetti and Michael Carey. Click here to get more details and register NOW.

About Mary Bee

Mary Bee is a singer / songwriter from Rehoboth, MA, originally known as Mary Brierly. There she started her first band Aubergine with her best friends in high school. She then sang in Providence, RI with Ben Pilgrim in his band The Free Union where she was given the nickname Mary Bee by Ben himself – it stuck! She started her solo project with producer David Gonzalez, recording her first solo full length release in AS220’s Delgado Studio. She then won Best Female Vocalist in the Providence Phoenix and was nominated for Best Live Performance. Mary has performed on the east and west coasts, as well as in Europe and Central America. She is currently working on her new album and lives in Los Angeles, CA

About Mark Mazzetti, President, Record Company In A Box

Mark is an internationally respected music executive and producer with a history of creating Grammy Award winning records which have sold over 40 million copies worldwide. Mark has held positions as Executive VP of A&R at A&M Records and Executive VP and Special Assistant to the Co-Chairman and President of A&M Records. Most recently Mark has been VP Artist and Business Development at Mark has served as A&R executive for artists including STING, JANET JACKSON, AMY GRANT, DISHWALLA, AARON NEVILLE as well as for JOHN MAYER (Sony/’Room For Squares’ album), ELTON JOHN’s “Made In England” (Rocket/single) among others. Mark’s current roster of artists in development at Record Company In A Box include THE WRECKING, ERIC EDEN, MAGDALENA, STEREOSPREAD, JUSTIN WINOKUR, MARY BEE and several new songwriters.

Sources for More Info

LAMA College For Music Professionals
Mary Bee Music
Michael Carey
Record Company In A Box
Resonation Music

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