The A&R of wine

kermit lynch
As I wrote recently, Kermit Lynch is the man. They NYT has a decent little profile on Mr. Lynch today.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve just polished off a bottle of his very fine Cuvee Cotes du Rhone, but I’m more and more believing that there’s something beyond passing similarities to the business of music and the business of wine.

Certainly they had more in common with each other before the products that the music business sold began self-replicating and delivering themselves to the user’s home (if only wine would start doing that), but there are still some things to ponder moving forward.

The Times, for instance, makes note of Mr. Lynch’s process, which sounds to me like the best type of A&R:

With little company, he traveled the back roads of France, seeking esoteric producers whose wines were fresh, delicious and unaffected by the industrialization shaping the post-World War II wine industry.

Speaking of how Mr. Lynch built his following for his retail outlet, the Times notes that Mr. Lynch found a way to connect with his constituency:

Mr. Lynch was not merely a merchant and an importer but an author as well. He began in the 1970s by writing descriptions of his inventory and sending them out to customers — “little propaganda pieces,” he called them.

They were really much more than that, for Mr. Lynch never engaged in the sort of contrived tasting notes that often pass for wine writing today. Instead, he wrote of the joy and pleasures of consuming good wine, of the winemakers he met and the places he visited. He provided characters, context and travelogue, and even recipes.

This too reminds me of the best of what’s going on in the music business via retailers such as the CIMS stores, and individual outposts like Other Music.

It’s not just retailers, of course, who can take a page from Mr. Lynch’s play book, but artists themselves as well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Times article ends thus:

At 65, Mr. Lynch is by no means stepping back, although he leaves more time for other pursuits, like playing guitar and writing songs.

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