A&R which is short for Artist and repertoire refers to agents that are responsible for scouting for and finding new talent for record labels or artists.
As the internet and basically all technologies improve and advance one question that has been brought up quite a number of times is;
Is the A&R still relevant?
The A&R is still a very important and relevant part of the music industry despite the fact that the internet has made it possible for talented people to build their content and spread it all over the internet in the hopes that a record label can catch wind of them.
The relevance of the A&R in the music industry basically boils down to the fact that they are good at their jobs…..and the amount of industry knowledge they possess makes them the suitable candidates to bring in talent taking into consideration ALL the things that actually work in the music industry.
A&Rs are good at identifying people that can actually make it in the music business. Furthermore, the fact that record label contacts outside of A&Rs are pretty difficult to find, A&Rs make it easy for people to have record label liaisons that they can showcase their music to.
The internet has certainly changed things for the A&R world because it provides the means for musicians to easily get discovered.
The Role of A&Rs
The main role of A&Rs is to recognize and find talent on behalf of record labels. This means keeping an eye out for talent that is worth investing into.
A&Rs back in the day were considered the match makers who forever changed and influenced the music industry. These days, they play the same role but things have changed and the general approach has equally changed.
Are A&Rs no longer necessary?
A&Rs are necessary, but to a very limited extent. Most record labels have greatly downsized on the A&R department due to the possibilities that the internet has brought.
This is particularly one of the reasons why many people think the A&R era is dead.
Record labels have certainly changed who they employ as A&Rs… in short, for a successful A&R career, one must have good credentials, impeccable judgement and deep reach in the world of music. All these things are what is necessary to actually succeed in this business.
How the role of A&Rs has changed over time
In the olden days, A&Rs would actually produce, arrange and at times compose music themselves. As the music industry started sky rocketing in the 80s and 90s, A&Rs became more about identifying talent and matching the right producers and artists.
With the emergence of the internet and social media, A&Rs have adopted new ways of operating. They now possess good marketing skills that can help them identify upcoming artist brands that with a little help can develop into international world wide brands.
This new way of operating for A&Rs has been a result of piracy that has been birthed by the internet. This now means that fan base and audiences have become a serious factor in determining which talent to sign.
Physical sales are basically not what they used to be in the 70s or 80s therefore a core fan base that can be more monetized in other ways is at the forefront of a Financially successful business.
What A&Rs look for when choosing talent
Let’s look into the what A&R’s look for when choosing artists:
Sound / Quality of Music
One of the most important things that A&Rs look for in a musician is how good their sound is.
Sound being there sonic capabilities and the overall quality of their records.
Skill is also very important because essentially, A&Rs will want to work with somebody that already has what it takes or simply needs a little work to refine their craft.
Music is all about how it is perceived. Good music will be amongst the top things that can easily get you signed to a record label.
As an A&R, your expertise and your overall judgement will work best in assessing who’s going to be a good fit for a label.
This is another aspect of what A&Rs will generally look for in picking and choosing talent for a record label.
Record labels only what to be associated with brands that of integrity and atleast portray a good image. Therefore your overall brand as musician will play a very vital role in getting a chance to be considered and recognized by an A&R.
The best place that A&Rs will go to in order to assess your brand image will be your social media accounts.
What you post and how you go about using it will play a very key role in getting signed.
Another factor that may also come into play is the fanbase of the artist. An artist with already existing fan base will make a good impression and give an indication that the artists music has the ability to get traction.
Building up an already existing fanbase is easier than starting from scratch. The record label is always looking to capitalize on situations that are promising.
Another advantage of having an already existing fanbase as an artist is that marketing can be done easily taking into account the already existing target audience.
A&Rs play a very vital role in the music business and certainly a necessity.
For small record labels, A&Rs may be irrelevant because taking on more staff can be an expense……but for the big record labels, A&Rs are a vital part of talent scouting. Labels work with professionals that can bring in good talent that can be groomed and turned into a brand.
Despite social media and the internet making it easier for record labels to have access to unsigned musicians music.
A&Rs are very relevant into sorting the good from the below average talent. This particular judgement is what makes A&Rs an important and still revealing part of the music industry.