Nearly everyone who’s passionate about mixing records or creating their very own tunes wants to be the next superstar in the world of Dance Music and wants to have his (or her) music heard by crazy amounts of clued-up clubbers. Apart from a lot of musical talent and dedication, there’s one more part of the chain essential to your looming discovery: the A&R-manager.
What the heck is an A&R-manager?
If you have to ask yourself that question, you’d better read this part twenty times over ’til you know it by heart. This is the person you’ll be dealing with ALL the time, as the A&R manager (Artist & Repertoire) is the talent scout of the music industry. His knowledge of the genre(s) in question and trained set of ears allow him to be the best at what he does: spotting brand new Dance Music stars and helping them reach their potential.
As can be expected, the A&R-manager is on top of all relevant developments in the music industry. He knows which artists are on top of their game, and can divert all of the artist’s potential to the targeted audience. Needless to say, the A&R Manager is very passionate about music, possesses the know-how of producing solid records and is able to coach you and your talent when you hand him a demo-containing floppy disc for the first time (All right, let’s be reasonable; you can just e-mail it.)
Well then, how do I impress the guy?
To tell you the truth, it’s not really that easy. Especially if you’re aiming at the hotshots of the music industry. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Your forthcoming hit single should be original, well-constructed, and should also contain enough potential when it comes to sales. Apart from that, your demo should create a certain feel; music has to move and touch the listener, and that’s absolutely necessary for a track to get signed. Unfortunately, that feeling depends on the personal preference of an A&R manager. That’s the tricky part.
And apart from the music skills?
Some of you might blink twice or thrice, shake your head in disbelief or call us fools, but excellent communication skills are crucial to the launch of your career. Whether by phone, e-mail, pigeon or in person, the initial conversation with the A&R manager is extremely important. It is the first and foremost checkpoint, and it’s up to you how it will end. It’s all about displaying a professional attitude towards the A&R manager, the music industry, and music in general.
After eagerly awaiting that very moment where the scale tips in your favor, the A&R manager looks at image, character, and charisma, as you will be standing in the spotlight from now on. And that’s also where the rest of the record label comes into play. For instance, at Armada Music, we organize professional photoshoots, manage and keep track of Social Media accounts, draft-up and send out press release, arrange interviews, and could even help you out with styling and branding.
But what if I’m too old or too young?
Apart from having to be over the age of 18 (sometimes 21) to visit or play at certain events, there are no age restrictions in regard to making music. It’s something you want to do, and that should be your first and foremost focus. But being of a certain age can be very helpful, especially if that means a lot of fans can relate to you as an artist. At Armada Music, we relish the prospect of young and gifted producers. We coach and train them, preparing them for the madness that is heading their way. However, if you’re over the age of sixty, chances are you won’t have a flock of fans praying at your feet or decorating their bedroom wall with your photographs and signed T-shirts. You will have lost (most of) your appeal to the targeted audience and in that regard, age does matter.
So how can an A&R manager launch my career?
This all depends on the wishes of the artist in question and whether or not the A&R manager has high hopes for him or her. More than often, the A&R manager lets the record label know that you are extremely gifted and that you could very well be the next best thing in DJ land. The record label could then launch certain promotional campaigns, aimed at receiving as much support as possible. You could probably think of a few kinds, including gigs at label events, photoshoots, interviews, Social Media campaigns, and even merchandise, like clothing, caps, IPhone covers, you name it.
So an A&R manager can get me to headline massive events?
This is where the booking agency comes in. Some record labels have their own booking branches. In our case: Armada Bookings. Promising artists could get signed to Armada Bookings, in addition to their initial record deal. This does mean, however, that the booking agency has to see the same potential in you as the A&R manager previously did. But immediately expecting an extremely coveted headline spot on a major event is a bit too much to ask for, isn’t it? Take your time and keep being the consistent performer that you are. When you take that into consideration (and don’t let the pressure weigh you down), the only way is up from there.
And what if I’m having personal issues and can’t seem to produce those chart-topping hit singles you’ve been talking about anymore?
In some cases, the job of an A&R manager much resembles that of wonder worker Dr. Phil. You could get dumped by your girlfriend or fall into debt because of your gambling addiction. Or you have lost your way because of the perfectly bodied, all-that-is-good representing groupies that are dying to tag along on the way to your hotel room. When inspiration fails to hit, the A&R manager is the one to lift your spirits and help you on the quest to full mental recovery, up to the point where producing full-blown festival favorites is once again part of your day-to-day routine. You know what would probably be the remedy to cure all ills on this occasion? A good, old-fashioned night out with your favorite A&R manager (and the liquor might help too).
How do I know if I’m a successful artist?
It’s not easy to measure success, as it depends on numerous factors. But an endless stream of gigs is bound to be a sign of you doing very, very well. However, the events you’ll be a part of are what really matters. An artist playing four times a week in a local barn has quite a lot of gigs, but we reckon he won’t be widely regarded as the music legend he’s hoping to be in the future. But if you’re the one blowing away the gathered masses at Ushuaïa Beach Hotel, or making the festival grounds tremble at Ultra in Miami, we’ve got high hopes of you turning out just fine.
Of course, if you are a non-performing artist, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever be successful. If your music has received huge support and you’ve gained a massive following on social media, you can definitely regard yourself as a successful musician.
I’m ready! Let’s Do This!
Your unbridled enthusiasm warms our hearts. But you’re not there yet. Send your demo to firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to try again later if it’s not the right time. Persistence is key to making it work!