Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Manager

People who work in the front lines of Recorded Music Scene

A Review By: Alphonso Soosay

The most important responsibilities of an A&R Representative at any Music Record Companies is to identify distinctive talents, create new song material for signed artists, They are the ones who will find the next big thing for the record companies, they listen to stacks of demo tapes and CD’s and go to as many live gigs as they can, and keep an eye on what’s hot and what’s not, music wise, and on the whole support the artistic and marketable development of the label’s artists. After they have signed a new act, the other part of the job kicks in. The A& R person acts as the link between the artist, their manger and the record company. They also deal with the artist manager, tour manager audio engineer, PR promotions, Journalist, & TV and Radio stations. They also sort out the record deal, and after that, pretty much everything else, now they plan the journey on how to make the album and manage the project within the label.

Their working hours normally starts at 10.00am till 6.00pm and then of to see artistes in the late evenings. They could be working until 2 to 3 am and at weekends too. There is no rest for A&R people.

The most sensational aspect of an A&R job is locating new talent. A&R representatives spend a significant amount of time weeding through the stacks of aspiring artists for a few diamonds in the basket. A&R are accountable for visiting clubs and other live performances to assess the potential of new and unsigned artists. They will also have to search for new talents, by listening to music demos and watching video tapes of performances by unsigned artists. In some cases, A&R representatives will attempt to attract signed bands or singers from other labels, either by offering a tempting contract after the bands original contract expires, or by buying out the existing contract. In addition to identifying artists, A&R representatives will search for top musical arrangers and hit song writers for new songs for the artists they have signed up. There are quite a lot of promising sources which must be evaluated, international songwriters, works submitted by independent songwriters, and past hits which might be re-arranged and re-recorded by the new artists.
Although a university degree is not required for A&R positions, record labels characteristically might give preference to university degree applicants. Since A&R work requires a special combination of skills, however, a few labels are willing to overlook education in favour of natural musical intelligence.
Anyone interested in becoming A&R representatives should consider university studies in subjects related to marketing and communications, such as promotions, advertising and marketing.
University degree in communications provides a strong starting point for work as an A&R representative. Since A&R representative is such a prestigious title, competition for the position is ferocious, even by the shockingly bloodthirsty standards of the music industry. As a result, applicants must have some preceding experience in Recording, Live Concerts and most importantly with the Music industry, also preferably with previous experience in other music record companies. A good first step into getting this experience is successfully completing a music internship.
Here are some of the skills you will require to be a good A&R person.
1) Having good judgment in assessing artists, their music and their potential for commercial success.
2) Negotiation for the best deal for the record company while supporting the artist’s ambitions.
3) Understanding how songs work and how the albums are recorded and produced.
4) Capability to spot genuine potential in unique talent.
5) Having expertise to predict popular trends as years go by.
6) Outstanding verbal communications and negotiating skills.
7) Must be comfortable with outgoing socially.
8) Willing to take-on, long hours when required.
9) Having computer skills, emailing documents and filing information electronically.
10) To get the best response in all your dealings with potential signing and their managers.

If you have these above talents then it could be your kind of job.

For Musicians and Singers, this could be a job for you someday when you have the experienceof the above in years to come.

Alphonso Soosay
Audio Recording Engineer / Musician

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