I’ve seen a few people find my blog when they are trying to find out about what A & R people do, so I thought I’d blog a little about them, not that I have met many yet. A & R stands for Artists and Repertoire.
Basically they are the talent scounts of the recording industry. Their job is to go out and find future stars that the labels would like to sign up. Not too much different to talent scouts for sports clubs. They look for talent and often are involved in negotiating contracts with the new artists and help them make the transition from independant, to part of the business.
In current days, one of the most famous would be Simon Cowell of American Idol fame and many of the the comments that he makes to would be artists is about their potential as a recording artist.
To get an insite to what A&R people look for, there is a series on the BBC, which you can listen to here.
If you want more information, I found a great site called Getsigned.com. I don’t know anything about their services, but there are some great articles full of excellent information on how to get signed and other aspects of developing your professional career as an artist. Personally, I don’t want to be the artist, I want to write the songs for them.
Here is an interview with Stephan Brower of Vanguard Records
So you want to send your song to an A&R person and see if you can get it picked up by a record company or one of their artists.
Take a step back from the song you wrote and love and think about what their email and snail mail boxes look like. How many submissions do you think they get in a week. I’ll give you an idea. Even the smaller ones will get 100’s of demo’s. Why should they listen to yours?
Is your song REALLY GOOD? Who told you? Here’s an analagy. When you watched American Idol (Come on, I know you watched it at least once!) do you remember Simon or Randy ask “Who told you you could sing?”. So I’m asking you, who told you this is a good song? Your friends and family?
But this is only the first question. The record companies get thousands of really good, well constructed, nice songs every year. The thing is they are not looking for a good song, they are looking for a GREAT SONG. They are looking for something UNIQUE and given that there are always numbe one hits, there are plenty of great songs out there.
It can be on the same subject matter as other songs, but it has to have something special, a great hook, a really catchy melody. If your song is going to be a hit, it has to appeal to millions of people not dozens or hundreds.
When the A&R person listens to the first 60 seconds (because that might be all the hearing your song gets, they need to be saying “WOW, this is the ONE!”
So go back to your good song and see if you think it is great, or is it as Ralph Murphy says, a great song for people to dance to in a club after 10 P.M.
Of course not every song will be a hit, most of the songs of the great song writers aren’t hit songs, but it was usually their first hit that started their professional careers.