Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to get a job as an A&R?

I got the question from a person that went into the blog. I guess we make a post out of that. To start with myself it all started when I put up my record label Dead frog records over 25 years ago. In the beginning I was alone in the company so yes I had to be the A&R. Later on while developing the label we got more people working around us. I don’t know if we were kind of unique, but we let all people that worked in the company had something to say. We gathered and all put in their finds in the demo pile and we discussed witch bands that got to be signed. Still I was the head A&R.

Today I’m alone on the post. Sure the rest of the office will hear new acts that I play. Also comes along and look on new acts to sign when they play live.

I guess this is the normal way to get to be an A&R. You start your own label and develop from that. On the big companies then? Usually the A&R work them self’s up to that position. It’s very rare that you see a record label seeking out an A&R. It’s more that you start on a lower position in the company and by working there understand their procedures and in the end get to the A&R position.

If the label seeks an A&R they probably would headhunt a person that they want on that spot. It’s such a specialized work for a label that it’s nothing you just put someone there. You grow into the work or have done it very successfully before.

Then today you also have firms that acts like a satellite A&R outside the office. There is several of these firms.

Sometimes also the job comes with a pressure to be successful. The company needs to see results on what you sign. So if the artist that you sign doesn’t get anywhere it’s not unusual that you can get fired.

It’s not so much sitting and listening to music that many thinks (you really don't have the time atht you would like, to do that). You work close with the artists and takes many decisions around their career. A lot of times also how successful the artists will be is around the A&R: s network of people to get the artists opportunities. Some A&R:s are very involved in the process of the music some is not.

These factors is why many A&R:s are very protective and very slow on signing new artists. At the same time they also wants to get on the artist that are hot for the moment. In those cases they can be very “on” to get to the artist they want.

So this also means that there is no A&R schools. If you want to be an A&R start on the PR department. If you get lucky you get in as a trainee and be part of the A&R team of a bigger company. In a smaller company its usual the owner that hold the A&R position but still they work with the team so you will be close to the decisions.

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