Discovering and nurturing talent is a core function of a music company and a good A&R team is often the jewel in its crown.
Such teams combine many qualities – youth with experience, measured evaluation with raw instinct, musical expertise with relationship management.
A&R professionals seek out talented artists that have the ability to forge a career in music. Many of the industry’s senior A&R personnel are former artists and songwriters.
Music companies are not just looking for artists with raw talent, but people who have a vision of how they want their career to progress. They are also looking out for stamina, charisma and resilience. Many artists do not appreciate all the aspects a music company considers beyond the ability to sing or play when signing an act.
Successful A&R is about identifying that elusive “star quality”.
Labels are deluged with music from artists aspiring to the elusive ‘record deal’. Artists may now send MP3 files rather than demo tapes to a label’s A&R team, but the art of sifting through the vast field of talent remains the same. This is true from the largest international music company to smaller independent labels. Only around one in 250 tracks A&R teams get sent ultimately grabs their attention and warrants further investigation, but once they hear a track they like, a dialogue is opened with the artist extremely quickly.
Most artists ambitious for success want a record deal.
For most, it is a huge stepping-stone towards a career in music and attracting a wider audience. A record label provides a peer context. Artists want to get signed because because the label worked with some great names. Fans and media know that anyone the label works with will be of a certain quality. When you sign to a record label you tap into a network of relationships that have been built up over the years.
The artist-music company relationship is a negotiated partnership sealed in the recording contract.
The deals being put together today are fast-changing, with music companies offering more input and investment across various elements of an artists’ career in exchange for a share of a variety of revenue streams. Music companies often ask for artists to commit to producing several albums as part of a recording agreement. Labels see this as a fair return for the substantial investment that they make in the marketing and branding of artists, benefits which are sustained long into a performer’s career. There are many examples of how this long term approach has helped artists increase their sales from album to album. Artists such as Jason Mraz, Amy Winehouse, Kenny Chesney and Snow Patrol have benefited from the commitment of a multialbum deal as their fanbases grew.
Music companies are working in a highly competitive marketplace.
For every artist that is commercially successful, most are not. Yet when they sign artists, the only goal of record labels is to have a big hit. You have to work constantly to engage an artist’s audience. You are always looking for branding and merchandising opportunities. You are always building your artists’ profile outside their music work, working on artists’ visual images, whether that be through a webisode on their social networking page or even a full-blown film documentary.
Beyond the local market, few acts break borders and become great international stars. Could an artist build an international career without the support of a music company? You could try, but even today you’ll still need to produce, distribute and sell physical and digital product worldwide, some of it in tough, developing markets. These are the basics of building a career in music, but they are still vital and you’ll only really stand a chance with a dedicated team to support you.
The journey always starts with good music.
Building your brand (narrative of who you are and what you stand for) and growing your fan base is the second step. That’s where we step in to help.