One of the more popularized roles within the music industry is that of the A&R executive. The term “A&R” stands for Artists and Repertoire, which is the division of a record label that is responsible for both the scouting of talent and the commercial and artistic development of recording artists. Furthermore, the A&R representative helps to bridge the role between the artist and the audio producer or engineer.
The Duties of an A&R Representative
To begin, the three main duties of an A&R representative includes overseeing the entire process of recording an album, finding new talent, and assisting with the promotion of the label’s artists. If someone is new in the A&R department, they will also find themselves charged with looking for new talent. This requires attending concerts, actively listening to demos, as well as staying on top of news in the music business.
Likewise, a talented A&R executive has a roster of behind-the-scenes talent that supports any new artist. Having a trustworthy team of engineers, producers, and promoters streamlines the creative process. As a result, they build up an extensive list of contacts to be in touch with. Once they have their sights set on an artist or group, they will pass the information along to someone higher up in the department.
The Working Relationship of A&R Reps with Producers and Engineers
One of the most valuable relationships an A&R representative can have is with producers and engineers. These key professionals need to be at every recording session during the creation of the project. Recording and mixing an album takes a team, and putting together the right people in the booth can make all the difference. An A&R representative that is just starting out gets to know the engineers and audio producers that the record label has in-house. They are also the ones who book time for the artist to record in the studio with approval from higher-ups at the record label. The A&R also has their artists check out a session to get a feel for the work of the audio producers and engineers. Everyone has a unique set of skills and experiences, so finding the right combination of behind-the-scenes talent is imperative to create the artist’s vision.
Communicating Within the Team
Conversely, the audio producers and engineers offers their input to the A&R about how the artist is doing in recording sessions. They also take the time to work with the songwriters that have been tapped to collaborate on the album. As creatives themselves, producers and engineers have a give-and-take relationship with the artist while working on the project. These lines of communication are important, since even small disagreements can spiral into bigger problems that halt production entirely. It is up to the A&R department to recognize personnel issues as they arise, and find suitable replacements to keep the process moving.
The Recording Process
Audio engineers have well-tuned ears to detect issues with a recording, and should communicate back to the A&R and rest of the team to implement a solution. One example is to find vocal processing that work best with the artist’s voice. This is a point when experience and skill of the production team shine: the difference between an average recording and a professional one is down to the details.
Another example would be the producer looking at ways to provide strong instrumentation to support the vision of the artist. The contribution of the producer may be significant, such as completely creating instrumentals, or can be focused on certain aspects like the arrangement. No matter how much they contribute, a skilled production team brings the artist’s vision to life, so the A&R representative needs a quality team in the booth.
There are situations where other audio producers and engineers not affiliated with the record label might be brought in to work with the artist. In this case, the A&R representative gets that request and submits it to upper management. It’s then up to the A&R representative to have consistent feedback with the artist and these producers and engineers to make sure the recording sessions are fruitful enough to fulfill the vision of the album. Outside engineers and producers should use any opportunity to their full advantage, even if they already have an established network. In this way, the A&R division and outside production help are mutually benefitted by nurturing the relationship. All parties need excellent communication and the ability to work closely with multiple personalities.
Finishing the Project
Making an album requires long hours, and differing opinions can wear on people. In this situation, the A&R representative is a neutral party. Ultimately, completing the project is the end goal, and all parties should keep their sights set on finalizing a vision. The aim is to get the album recorded and presented to the senior executives at the record label for their approval. If more recording sessions need to take place, the representative books more studio time with the artist and production team to polish and correct points in the album where the executives want more shine and appeal.
A successful A&R representative develops and maintains the relationships with their artist and the audio professionals in the recording studio. Mastering those bonds makes their projects smoother and highly rewarding.
Want to Learn More?
As an engineer or producer, the relationships with A&R representatives and executives is incredibly important. These connections can lead to rewarding experiences and future work, and should be handled with care. If working in the music industry as a producer or engineer interests you, take a moment to check out IPR’s Audio Production and Engineering Program and the training that they provide.
Contact us today to learn more about the audio production and engineering program and starting a rewarding career in the music industry.