What is a record label A&R and how do I become one?

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If you have a passion for music and would love to work in the music industry becoming an A&R could be a great career path for you, even if cannot hold a note or play an instrument. There are plenty of roles just waiting for someone who has a passion for music!

You might never have heard of the term record label A&R but let’s take a look at what this entails and how it could be your dream career in the music industry.

What is an A&R?

A&R, or Artists and Repertoire is the part of a record label that has the responsibility for scouting talent. They also look after the artistic and commercial development of any recording artists that they take one. It is the role of A&R to act as a form of liaison between the record label and the artist. Within the role there are three distinct responsibilities:

  • Seeking out new talent
  • Overseeing the entire recording process
  • Helping with promotion and music marketing of the new artist

Whilst it is probably the dream of every A&R to sign the next big new star, they can also sign more established artists to the roster of the company they work for. Once they have done this they will work closely with the artist, acting as a go-between with the business affairs department of the label. A big part of the role is acting as an advisor, helping to nurture the image and the sound of the artist. 

Duties may also include listening to artist’s demos, interpreting music data, matching artists to the right producers, advising on music marketing tools / strategies and offering constructive creative input. 

What qualifications do I need?

This is one of those jobs where there is no formal qualification that can help you out. However, most companies (especially the major labels) looking for someone to fill an A&R role require a person to already have some experience within the music industry, either with a music publisher, a record label, music tech, DSP or a management company. Alternative routes to showing your passion and taste for music include curating a blog, playlist, or social media community around the music you love.

Other skills they may be looking for are knowledge of music production, royalties and how they work, and producer deals. This is of course in addition to basic skills such as great time management, the ability to work to deadlines and under pressure, people skills, and great communication skills. It goes without saying a passion for music is a must.


What type of person does this role suit?

This is undoubtedly the ideal role for someone who is passionate about music and has drive. It can be a demanding role involving long hours, but the rewards speak for themselves. This is not a role for someone who is shy as there is a lot of communication involved with a wide range of people. If you have the drive and the ability to think on your feet, great people skills, and a love of good music then this may well be the music industry job for you. 

Not cut out for the A&R life? How about trying to become a booking agent?

Find opportunities and roles like this at jobs.soundplate.com