If you are an Artist you have probably dreamed about getting signed to a major recording contract, but the sad truth is that few Artists actually know anything about record companies’ and who is responsible for discovering new talent, where and when they look to find talent, and what they are looking for in that talent. We could easily write a book on a discussion of A&R but here is a brief overview from former CEO of RCA Records.
The first thing you need to know is what A&R is. A&R is an acronym for Artists and Repertoire and whose job it is to discover new talent and help to develop that talent.
A&R reps have a huge responsibility to make money for their label and to justify their career positions; because of this A&R reps in today’s market tend to be cautious and follow the current trends to look for the next big hit or watch and see what other A&R reps are pursuing. Most believe that A&R have unconditional signing powers within the label, but they do not. A&R reps first need to find potential Artists, and then get the approval of the record company CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or the Head Of at the label, which is the hardest part of their job.
Now, if you are trying to get a record deal you probably want to know what these reps are looking for.
Working alongside the most successful labels we can give you an insight on how the label operates and the criteria that any potential band has to meet prior to being signed.
The key things they are looking for are artists who have potential hit and Xover (appeals to different age groups) songs, signature sound, a marketable image, a great live show and long-term career potential. The major record companies like Sony prefer bands that are business-minded and first help themselves. What that means is Artists who press and sell their own recordings, build a strong fan base, establish a strong web presence and have a clear vision of their goals; are far more attractive to the record labels and their CEO’s than those who do not.
Now, where do A&R discover new talent? A&R discover new bands through: word of mouth, their trusted events and venues, surfing the internet, attending local performances, independent record labels and reviews in local and nation trade magazines. The best way to get spotted by a rep is to play gigs for known promoters with links to the industry as these will have a direct line to the A&R’s and will have knowledge of the record label’s scouting and signing conditions.