[ Music Info ] What is an A&R?
Guest blog post from Josh Hayward
First an announcement: On top of mixing/producing I have become an A&R (Artist and Repertoire) by joining up with Palace Music Group Digital Distribution because they offer excellent services for prices that don’t break the bank and all services benefit the artist because they are non-binding and non-exclusive. In other words I can also help you get out there on top of making you sound great with the guarantee that you can keep your music and do whatever you wish with it.
An A&R is pretty much a talent scout. We will come out to your shows and watch you live and if we like you we’ll approach you and eventually give you a business card. Alternatively you’ll seek US out through other means like your network.
What are we looking for?
Unique, established acts with original music (sonic quality matters, so have great sounding mixes/masters!) and a great image. In previous posts related to music marketing I expressed how important branding and image are, this is yet another reason to have your brand established and consistent throughout social media and more traditional promotional means.
Essentially we’re looking for those who are serious about their music careers. So what makes someone “serious”?
- Are you investing in yourself monetarily?
- Do you show professionalism?
- Are you playing shows regularly?
- Do you have a good social media following?
These things are important because it shows drive, draw and demand. How can we tell if you’re investing in yourself?:
- Do you have quality album art?
- Does your website look good and have content?
- Does your music sound professionally mixed and mastered?
- Do you have a merch table?
- Do you have business cards?
- Do you get flaky at the mention of spending money?
All of these things tell us a lot about you, talking with you tells us more about where you wish to go with your career. Some are happy being a regional/local act and that’s perfectly fine, they’re still being successful and shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to make money with their music. Does this stuff cost money for you? Of course, you won’t get anywhere for free.
Labels don’t always handle distribution for acts, they will use the particular distribution company the artist currently has unless specified otherwise and negotiations take place so it’s best to establish yourself with a distribution company in the first place.
You don’t necessarily want a label taking control of everything about your music career because you just might lose it or you could be stuck on a label giving you a great royalty rate, yet giving you zero exposure/sales (happens frequently) which does you/your group NO GOOD, so it’s highly recommended to take distribution into your own hands and use labels for marketing juice for the most part.
Social media followings are important for obvious reasons, it shows your marketing strategies are working and that people are spreading the word about you. It means you’ve got your brand and marketing down.
A&Rs can help you and help doesn’t always mean free, so never turn down an opportunity should he/she present themselves before you. Make the effort to call back and talk, see what they can do for you, chances are it will be a LOT and if you end up not doing anything you at least have a great connection you can pass others along to and come back to when you’re ready.
Be weary of those who make guarantees that you’ll become a huge star they’re generally lying through their teeth. Not a lot of people can guarantee stardom or label acceptance but what CAN be guaranteed is driving your success in the proper direction by continued growth of sales and exposure which is what labels want to see in the first place. You can’t achieve that without distribution and proper marketing.
As a mix engineer and production expert I obviously take an A&R position a step further as I know what labels are looking for and can give you what they want, marketing knowledge puts me ahead of the pack as well, so in reality, I can do quite a lot to help you gain exposure. The rest is up to you! Have a budget!