An abbreviation for Artist & Repertoire, A&R agents have been around for a long time and individuals in this role have been responsible for discovering some of the greatest acts in entertainment history. Anyone who chooses to take on this prestigious mission will be responsible for talent scouting on behalf of the company they’re working for and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. In a nutshell, their main role is to find talent, oversee the process of recording and assist with any necessary promotion and marketing for an artist/bands new music. They’re also the main liaison between an artist and label offering creative input, connecting artists with the right producer and listening to a lot of music.

Having said this, have you ever wondered what A&R executives and reps actually look for before they consider signing new talent? Well here are top 3 ways to get noticed and things to consider to do/not to do.


1. What can you bring?

Having a great vocal and brilliant songs is key, of course, but also having an established fan base and successfully knowing how to market yourself is increasingly a crucial way to standing out. S​howing that you are pro­actively promoting your music all the time and not letting it run under the radar is vital. F​or example, do you know what your USPs (Unique Selling Point) are? This not only helps differentiate yourself from your peers within the music industry, but also helps you get noticed by an A&R rep. It’ll show them that you not only know that you have talent but you know what to do with it. This in the short and long term will demonstrate how you have something to build on, as A&Rs are no longer seen as saviours of an artist/band’s career but nurturers of acts that can bring something to the table already having accomplished something on their own.

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2. Songs, Sound and Image

When an A&R considers an act they’d like to sign or pursue, questions running through their mind include whether the act’s songs are a potential hit, whether they have a signature sound and whether their image is marketable. Gone are the days where standing next to a 1950s style microphone on a blank stage next to a red velvet backdrop delivering great vocals was the only thing you needed to get you noticed. Good times. But providing a good quality sound track with catchy h​ooks in addition to great vocals will make it all that much easier for the A&R rep as well as others to be convinced of the song’s potential. Find your own sound and image and be relentless at the pursuit, A&R’s don’t want clones; they want original gems.


3. Show you’re active & prepared

Being prepared and active is something that is very important when it comes to approaching or being noticed by an A&R rep. Depending on your goals as an artist or band, there are a number of things that you should consider having in line if you plan on getting yourself/songs noticed. Have you ever toured before or participated in any form of live gigs? Touring can show you’re not afraid to get out there off your own back. No A&R wants to work with an artist that isn’t prepared to travel and tour. What’s your social reach like and where do you stand in SEO rankings? Actively using social platforms and engaging with newer platforms like Snapchat or Instagram can help participate to your buzz. If an A&R rep was to search your name in Google, what’s the first thing they’ll see? If nothing, it may not support the idea that you’re an upcoming and exciting artist. Make the search engines explode with magazine/blog article reviews of your music, news about your band etc. This way everyone is telling that A&R rep that they should know about you, suddenly you look a lot more appealing as a new addition to their roster.


Remember to always be proactive and ready. And although there are always a few exceptions to the rule, try putting yourself in the A&R rep’s shoes. If you have the above areas covered, you’ll be well on your way on getting that much closer to your desired career goal.


This is the latest in a series of posts from Midem partner Music Gateway. More soon!

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Trudy Kirabo works in A&R marketing for Music Gateway. More about her company in the above link!

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