A & R stands for Artists & Repertoire.
The main function of this position is to help their artists creatively while helping the record company financially by signing hit acts and developing them, is probably one of the most hectic jobs in the music business.
They are usually music industry professionals that are hired to oversee the entire recording process which includes finding the right songs for their artist, working with the right music producers, finding the right recording studio, etc.
In this position one must stay on top of current music industry trends in order to create acts that will do well for the record label that employs them. Even if a record company A & R really likes a band they still may not be able to sign them. Usually it is the head record label A & R that makes the final decisions. The reason why being an A & R can be extremely stressful is because with every act that you sign your job is on the line. Since there is a high rate of failure in the music industry A & R people try to sign artists that are already somewhat established. If an A & R does not prove to the record label that they can generate hit acts they will be let go from the company.
Most A & R people were producers, promoters or artists themselves. Basically record label A & R people are hired to present a trustworthy face to artists and musicians. Usually record company A & R people are in their thirties because they are old enough to know what they are doing & young enough to know what the new trend is. If you get signed you better believe that it is just the beginning, there are still a lot of things that could go wrong. Someone at the record label may drop the ball or your record label A & R person may have to deal with flaky or unhappy music producers that arenít really into the project and are too busy to put their heart in it. Youíre A & R must also fight for you to get the attention of the record labels publicity, sales and promotion departments. It definitely takes a lot of work on an A & R personís part to get a recording artist from signing to being added to radio play lists and having a video on MTV. The recording process for a record label A & R is very intense because they must make sure that there are enough radio friendly songs on the release. If the A & R feels like there are not enough quality songs he / she will have the artist write and record more.
There are a lot of record label A & R people that accept unsolicited material. The ones that accept unsolicited material may ask you to put a certain code on your package so that they know you have permission to submit. Whenever I find time I usually sort through everything because you never know what you are going to hear. Most A & RS know exactly what they are looking for in an artist & if they see it in you they will more than likely sign you without any hesitation. If you get your act together & promote yourself aggressively there is a chance that a record label A & R will come to you. Green day is one band that didnít really have to look for a record deal. All they did was become a local hit & sell a good amount of CDs on their own, next thing that you know a majority of the major record labels wanted to sign them. It is always a great idea to do as much as you can on your own.
These days record companies spend less time developing acts, itís almost like they are looking for artists that are already polished and ready to go. Your package should include 3 of your greatest songs with the best one first because most A & R people will not keep listening unless the first song gets their attention. At times I get a full complete CD from artists that did not include a note telling me which song or songs I should check out. I didnít have time to listen to the whole CD and didnít feel like searching around for a great song. In the package you must also include a quality 8x10 photo, a biography that tells the A & R a story about the artist and how much local or regional success he / she has. Make sure that you leave your contact information home address, email address, home phone cell phone, etc. Make sure that your demo CD is clearly and neatly labeled.
If an A & R is interested they may ask for more songs, when your next show is, etc. Since successful music managers, music producers and music publishers act as filters for the A & R people you may want to get them to shop your demo for you. Your demo may have a better chance of someone listening to it if the person who sends it is well known or has a track record in the music industry. You can use music industry resource like All Music Industry Contacts to find a successful music manager, producer or publisher to shop your music. This music business is all about being professional and persistent so work hard at getting your music to the people who can make things happen. Record label A & R people hate when representatives call them or leave messages that are full of hype like I have the best new artist, you better sign us quick or weíll be with universal records or my artists are hotter than the ones out. The only thing this does is make me never want to meet you.
The internet is becoming a great way for record label A & R people to find new talent because artists are becoming savvy enough to get sites up with MP3 samples of their music. Technology is making the job of finding new talent easier and easier. As I have said before I like it when a successful music manager or producer recommends an act because I trust their judgment but I would never rely on this alone. There are a lot of magazines out there that offer demo reviews for artists, my favorite would have to be music connection magazine. I like to associate with people who program college radio stations because they usually know exactly what is new and hot. Just like itís a stock brokerís job to research potentially profitable stock, itís an A & R personís job to research potentially profitable artists. I tend to like artists that are already selling albums locally and are having those records counted by sound scan. The first and most important thing that an A & R person is looking for is hit songs. The second thing record label A & R people are looking for is a star quality front person that looks good, has style and charisma. The third thing record companies are looking for is an artist or band that has a great powerful stage presence and performance. One of the main reasons why Brittany Spears sells so many records is because she is sexy and shows off her body. Letís face it sex sells and will sell until the end of humanity. Did you see the makeover they had to do on Clay Aiken before he could be seen as a star quality recording artist? They changed everything but that boyís dental records.
The above is from http://www.allmusicindustrycontacts.com/record-label-A&R-info.htm
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