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Music Business

What Is A&R – And How Can They Help You?

Photograph of the blog post author, Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

25.10.2022

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As an artist, have you ever wondered how new emerging talent gets picked up or are you looking for a creative job where you think you have the knack of finding the newest undiscovered musical genius? Well look no further as we are here to discuss what exactly A&R (artists and repertoire) means and on the other side of the coin what you can do to be on their radar as a musician. What is the artist and repertoire job description in detail and how much would you hope to earn if you had this particular role? Read on for all the answers.  

What Is A&R?

A&R stands for artists and repertoire and they play a very valuable role in the progression of the music business as they discover new talent. Being part of a record label, they are in charge of sourcing the best new talent that the industry has to offer and aim to take them on board and sign them to their label. There will be a dedicated A&R team within each record label and they have the experience and the know-how to find talent which will ultimately be a success on the music scene. They also are in charge of the commercial development of the artist and are the point of contact between the artist and the record company. 

Therefore as an artist, the way you promote yourself is of critical importance even more so now that there are so many artists out there like you. Marketing yourself as an authentic musician is what is going to make you stand out and get noticed by the A&R representatives. 

What Do A&R Do?

An Artists & Repertoire manager essentially has 3 roles, finding talent, managing the recording process for the client, and assisting in anything regarding the promotional and marketing side of things. 

Find Talent

An artist and repertoire representative go out and find new talent and then add them onto the label’s roster. They do this by listening to demos, attending gigs and being on the inside track with everything related to the up and coming musicians. Hence why you need to be on top of your game in every aspect of your career and if possible invite representatives to your gigs so they can see you as a live performer. They are known as the gatekeeper of the industry, certainly for emerging unsigned artists as they can elevate your career after seeing you perform, so once you have them on your side, take every opportunity they give you and run with it. They have a lot of contacts so the more open you are to the A&T team, the more fruitful your career will be. 

Manage the recording process for the artists

They will be the liaison between the record label and the artist in relation to the recording process, whether that be helping the artist to find the right record producer, scheduling time in a recording studio and advising the artist on all aspects of making a high-quality recording. 

Assist with marketing and promotional side 

This is a very important part of the job as I have mentioned before, but the artists and repertoire (A&R) will be in charge of how the band or artist will promote themselves to the public. This can be in terms of the brand image, what singles, albums will be released and when, social media presence etc. They can be key to the success of a band and their longevity. 

Record Labels 

As we now know record labels play a significant role in artist representation, so I have mentioned the major labels to look out for, and certainly the ‘Big Three’. 

A record label is a ‘brand or trademark of music recordings and music videos, or the company that owns it’. ‘It can also be a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers’. 

The Big Three below are the highest grossing record labels

  • Universal Music Group – 2022 Annual Revenue: $2.313 million
  • Sony Music – 2022 Annual Revenue: $9.12 billion
  • Warner Music Group – 2021 Annual Revenue: $5.706 billion

These final 3 are of course just as well known, but do not make as much money as the Big Three. 

  • EMI 
  • BMG 
  • PolyGram 

All of these companies have one thing in common, they chose to focus on the nurturing of artists, whether they be emerging or more established and this is why they are so successful and well known in the music industry. They are in charge of marketing of music recordings and music videos. Working as an A&R coordinator within a record label is a sought after job and can be a glamorous one as well. You are in the best position to find new talent that could shake things up in the music scene and earn the record label some considerable amount of money if the artist does well. What an exciting job to be an artist and repertoire coordinator?! 

What Skills Do You Need To Work In A&R?

  • Excellent communication skills. This is key as you will be the point of contact between the label and the artists and it means that you have to multitask and jump between different projects/teams. Ultimately, you need to love working with people as this is a central part of the A&R role.
  • Able to work under pressure.
  • An extensive knowledge of the music industry.  
  • Knowledge of music venues/events so you can potentially find new talent. 
  • Having some prior experience in the music industry as a musician yourself or songwriter will give you the edge as you know how it all works.

The long and short of it is that if you have experience in artist development and the creative musical process, and have amazing interpersonal skills then getting that dream job might be closer than you think. 

Artists and Repertoire Salary 

The national average salary for an Artist and Repertoire is £36,933 per year in the United Kingdom and in the US, the average salary would likely be $141,789. Salaries can range from a low of $125,231 to a high of $160,590, so a fairly lucrative job. 

A&R in 2022? 

Branding and image are crucial for artists now and to have someone who can support you through the music industry which is known to be quite tricky at times will be a godsend. A&R are the ones that help you develop and find your footing. A&R managers can be an amazing source for musical info and contacts. Listen to them when they suggest that through your social media, you can grow your followers and audience. Being authentic and visible will aid you before being signed with a major record label but also in the ongoing process of being a musician, and the A&R team can guide you through every step of the way. Self-promotion will get you noticed as an artist and then this will hopefully lead to you signing an artist and repertoire contract. 

Closing Thoughts

Of course we have only laid out the basics today, but hopefully we have made it more clear with regards to the artist and repertoire definition in the music business. Do you see yourself now as an A&R rep or as a musician are you ready to reach out to A&R the team to help you take your music career to the next level? Either way, it is a thrilling role to take on and one with endless possibilities. 

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