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What is A&R and how does it work?

What is A&R and how does it work?
October 12, 2022
So you’re just getting into music and are hearing loads of new industry terms and abbreviations. A and R will more than likely be one that you’ll have heard a lot about.

But what exactly does this mean in 2024 and how does it fit into the running of the music industry? We’re here to provide the A to Z on all things A&R.


What does A&R stand for?

A&R stands for Artists and Repertoire. Put simply, this is the division of a record label or publishing company that is responsible for the discovery of talent as well as the creative and commercial development of an artist or band. The A&R department will also often act as a liaison between the artist and the record label or company themselves.

Working alone or as part of a wider department, A&Rs are always on the lookout for the newest and most exciting sounds - keeping their ears to the ground and hoping to find the next superstar act. You should be doing all you can to promote yourself as a musician and stand out to A&Rs.


What do A&Rs do?

On the surface, an A&R department has three main responsibilities:

Finding talent

Sometimes referred to as scouts, A&R professionals aim to sign either new or established talent to their company’s existing artist roster. Attending gigs, listening to demos and generally being up to date on whoever is taking the scene by storm are all vital parts of being a successful A&R.

Overseeing the creation of the recording

Once an exciting new act has been identified, A&Rs continue to work closely alongside the artist, acting as their liaison with the label’s business affairs department and also as an advisor who will help nurture their individual sound and brand image throughout the recording stage and beyond.

A&R reps are the musicians’ point of contact at the label during contract negotiations and will offer creative input and advice during production - often putting artists in touch with producers and other important parties.

What is A&R and how does it work?

Marketing and promotion assistance

A&Rs also play an important role in the marketing of an artist, assisting them with brand image, social media presence and sometimes even building a basic promotional foundation for the band and any single or album launches. A&Rs can have a big impact on the success of an artist.

Sounds a lot, right? A&R tasks don’t stop there.As with many jobs within the music industry, tasks and daily responsibilities more often than not exceed those listed on job descriptions so it’s really important that you’re willing to get stuck in and help your artists get the most out of their music.


Can I be an A&R?

Liking the sound of an A&R role but not sure how to get a foot in the door? Put yourself in with a great chance of landing your dream job by following our helpful guide below.

Get some music industry experience

Most A&R professionals fall into their roles after previously being musicians or somehow or another involved in the live music industry. Although this practical experience isn’t absolutely necessary, you would be doing yourself a favour by having at least some musical background and direct experience to help you understand the music business and how it operates.

Many people working within A&R have backgrounds as either artists or songwriters so if you’re able to gain any experience linked to artist development and the creative musical process, you’ll put yourself in a better position to land an A&R role.

Apprenticeships and internships at record labels or publishers can also provide valuable A&R experience - as well as giving you an insight into the music industry as a whole.

Although not essential, it may be useful to boost your CV and enrol yourself onto a music related university or college course to help prepare you for any future roles. Do some research about relevant music or music business courses and decide if any of them are the right fit for you.

Useful traits of good A&Rs

Whether or not you’re able to land a record label apprenticeship or enrol onto a music business course, you can always make sure that you’re ticking every other box and building up your transferable skill set.

Good A&Rs need to have strong multitasking and communication skills, working across multiple projects at the same time and liaising with various departments within the business. You’ll also want to be proactive in terms of making things happen and finding exciting new music, as well as having excellent networking skills. Standing out as the most important factor however is your passion. You need to have a true passion for music in order to make the most of your A&R career - and to help your artists reach their full potential and become global superstars!


What does A&R look like in 2024?

Nowadays, having a strong brand image is arguably just as important as the quality of your music. So many artists are having huge success through their social media presence and likeability so it’s more important than ever to be marketing your music and brand as best as you can.

Pre-COVID, the vast majority of A&R work was carried out in the field at gigs and festivals. Although this element of A&R is still hugely important, most artists nowadays are discovered via eye-catching social media strategies and internet sources - especially platforms that lend themselves to music like TikTok and Spotify. Landing a spot on a popular is a sure-fire way to get yourself noticed by anyone who’s anyone within the music industry.

What is A&R and how does it work?

Now more than ever, it’s vital to build on your social media presence, develop your online audience and self-promote your music to reach and impress A&R reps.

Although A&R has had to adapt to the age of streaming platforms and social media, it remains the gateway into the music industry and has a major hand in developing musical trends and culture.

What is A&R and how does it work?

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