Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Kristi Smith. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Kristi thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Going back to the beginning – how did you come up with the idea in the first place?
It was May of 2021 and I just graduated from Belmont University at the end of April. My friend, Zoe, and I went to New Orleans for a post-graduation trip and the idea flourished while I was there. I didn’t have any job offers when I graduated that I wanted in the music industry (to at least put my foot in the door) so I decided I was going to do it myself. I’ve always had a passion for writing and I have been gravitated towards A&R (artists and repertoire) and finding talent ever since I was around 13 or 14. So, I just decided to create my own music blog and went full force with it. It was something that was mine and it’s flourished.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Kristi Smith and I’m the founder and creator of The A&R Guru. The A&R Guru is a music blog that focuses on new and upcoming artists, singer-songwriters, composers, producers etc within the music industry. I’ve been passionate about music ever since I was a little girl. I never really thought I would be in the music industry, but once I found my passion I was determined to be in it. Funny enough, Simon Cowell is the one who inspired me to get into this industry. I saw him on X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Britains’ Got Talent, and I was just gravitated to what he did and I thought, “I’m going to do what he does.” I haven’t been doing this for a year and it’s already flourished into something so much bigger that I even thought.
Independent artists/bands/PR companies/management companies have reached out regarding their clients or themselves as an artist for me to consider them for a feature on my blog. They will usually pitch themselves or their clients to myself and my team as a “music submission” and we decide if we will move forward with it or not, or if there will be future opportunities down the road.
The music industry has a lot going for it and there’s a lot of aspects to it (i.e. management, touring, booking agents, record labels, etc). I believe what makes me stand out against others is that I try my best to get to know each artist that I’m featuring. It even helps me if I have more information about who they are as a person and what got them into music or the industry.
I’m proud of this blog and how it’s flourished so well from the start. I started out by just featuring artists I saw on TikTok (which that app has totally change the music industry) and then I wanted to reach a bigger audience so I reached out to a couple of networking groups on Facebook and that’s where it really took off. I’ve established a lot of connections through social media and just by working hard and putting my outlet and name out there.
One of the main things that I want people to know is that there’s talent everywhere, we just need to be willing to find it. Every single rising artist wants to get their name out there and to be in this industry, it’s competitive on all aspects (behind the scenes and directly wanting to be on stage). The advice I would give to rising artists is first, you have to believe in yourself, your music and your dream. That’s the most important thing. The second thing is that you need a team to believe in you and your work and fight to get your name out there.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
I grew up with my mom as an entrepreneur and I think I’ve always had that drive to work for myself. I’ve always had big dreams and goals, and obviously it’s just a matter of how you pursue it. I had to pivot just starting out really. I wasn’t sure how SEO worked or how traffic to your blog worked because I know the music industry is very specific and what I was focusing on was a niche. I wasn’t even sure if my blog would be successful, but it was mine and I created it.
I wanted to reach a bigger audience and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that on my own. So, I ended up reaching out to networking groups on Facebook and that really shifted my business and how I reached people which ended up really helping me establish a lot of connections within the industry with management companies, public relations companies, etc., all over the world.
Any resources you can share with us that might be helpful to other creatives?
I wish I knew a little bit more about blogging. Although I love writing and having a passion for the music industry I think I just threw myself in the fire expecting it to go well but in all reality, I had no idea what I was doing.
It may sound silly but I wish I utilized Pinterest and researching on that platform because so many different people have advice about blogging and resources in order to be a successful business woman/entrepreneur.
- Website: theaandrguru.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/theaandrguru
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/theaandrguru
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristi-smith-0a2665b9/
1) Gabrielle von Heyking 2) New Music Monday – no credit 3) almost a.m. – no credit 4) Eighty Ninety – Eric T. White 5) Love You Later – Reagan Renfrow 6) Lexi Jayde – Caity Krone 7) Sam MacPherson – Max Goldberg 8) Jamie Miller – Jessica Spohr