Many musicians aspire to be discovered by an A&R representative, secure a major record deal, and achieve success. But what is required to achieve a significant event, such as signing a record deal? Kicking off a huge music career requires being really good at what you do, having impeccable timing, and meeting all the right people.
To make a significant career move, many factors must come together. But one important individual you might need to win over is an A&R representative.
Getting your chance to perform in front of an industry audience and meet A&R reps may be easier than you think. You just need to put in the effort and make a plan.
If you want to connect with A&R reps, the road is long and there are many considerations.
Let’s break down everything an A&R representative does in this article. Then you’ll know what to anticipate from them, what they can do for you, and how to collaborate with one.
A&R: What is it?
A&R, which stands for Artists and Repertoire, is a vital part of the music industry. These reps are hired by record labels to find fresh talent and sign them to their roster.
Traditionally, A&R reps scouted for talent at industry and local shows, immersing themselves in music scenes to find the next big thing.
In the past, A&R reps were the only way for labels to discover new talent, acting as gatekeepers to the industry. But with modernization and the internet, this old Hollywood image of whisky-fueled deals in smoky backrooms has faded away.
Nowadays, A&R work is significantly different from what it was during the golden age of vinyl and radio in the early 20th century.
The role of A&R reps in 2023
Prior to the 2020 pandemic, A&R representatives mainly scouted for new talent at industry festivals like SXSW and CMW.
With shows and festivals halted, it’s unclear how in-person A&R work will continue during the pandemic.
Most artists are now discovered online, particularly on music-focused platforms like TikTok and Spotify.
To impress A&R reps, building an online audience and promoting your music through social media is crucial.
You can do this by maintaining a presence on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, as well as creating music videos and other creative online promotions.
Building a following in your local scene is also important, especially in big metropolitan areas.
How to approach your first A&R rep
To meet an A&R rep, you need a solid plan in place.
The first step is to complete your album.
When you meet with a label representative, having a finished product ready to present shows that you are serious about your work. And it may even accelerate your release.
After completing your album, you should aim to perform live shows.
Networking within the local music scene is your best bet. Go out and see what other artists are doing, meet people, and talk about your work without hesitation.
If live shows are an option, try to book yourself on a bill with bands that attract new audiences. And, remember to invite as many people as possible to your performance.
There are many of them. So, find out when one is coming to a town near you by checking the schedule of major industry festivals.
This is when you’ll get your initial opportunities to perform in front of industry experts.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the A&R reps you’re aware will be present and encourage them to attend your showcase.
Do you actually require a record deal?
The time when a record label’s representation was necessary is rapidly passing.
Do you really need to give up your rights in order to get the exposure record labels to promise with digital distribution, streaming services, and online audiences?
Depending on your style of music, your identity, and the label you want to sign with.
Nonetheless, subpar record deals have completely ruined the careers of numerous talented musicians. And there are also numerous instances of musicians who achieved success without ever signing a deal.
Therefore, exercise extreme caution when dealing with an A&R representative who guarantees to realize all of your wildest dreams and secure you a major signing with a major label.
Instead of fixating on achieving a major career breakthrough, concentrate on the passion that inspired you to create music in the first place: the joy of composing, performing, and conveying your thoughts.
Many of the tools required to promote your work and have it accessible on streaming services are already available.
You often experience mixed emotions during those major moments, and they rarely happen as you envision them.
Simply enjoy the present and what you can accomplish today. With time and effort, success will come.