A&R, otherwise known as the artists and repertoire department of a record label, are usually seen as the gatekeepers of the music business. They are in charge of finding new artists to sign and act as an intermediary between the artist and the record company. If an independent artist is looking to get signed by a label, they need to submit music to A&R.
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Here is everything you need to know about how to submit music to A&R and 10 tips to get in touch with them.
1. How do A&R find artists?
Before you submit music to A&R, it’s important to understand how they find artists. A&R reps spend most of their time listening to new music, going to live shows and festivals, and scanning social media and blogs to scout out promising talent. They also spend their time listening to the demos that artists send in to the label. A&R reps will reach out to artists that they discover either through social media, press coverage, or word of mouth. If an artist already has contacts in the industry or is associated with other well-known bands, this can boost their chances of being spotted by a A&R rep.
2. What do A&R look for to sign an artist?
Signing an artist is no small investment and A&R reps cannot afford to take risks. The music industry is an ever changing machine: there is more and more competition and less budget to go around. When A&R want to sign a new artist, they must be pretty convinced that the artist is a sure investment. Certain factors and stats are taken into account when A&R reps scout new talent. First of all, A&R reps look for artists that create buzz. This can be buzz in a local music scene or on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. They also look for artists that have a solid fanbase. A solid fanbase can mean having a strong following on social media, streaming well on platforms like Spotify, or even just getting a good turn out at live shows. These types of stats are crucial when A&R are looking to sign a new artist. The two most important factors that A&R look for are a signature sound and a strong identity. If you master these two elements, you will boost your chances of getting spotted by A&R.
3. How do I get in touch with and submit music to A&R?
It is possible to get in touch with A&R reps directly if they haven’t discovered you yet. It can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to boost your chances of getting their attention. Here are 10 tips to follow to successfully submit music to A&R the right way.
Tip 1: Perfect your signature sound
The first step every artist needs to take in developing their career is to perfect their signature sound. This is a lot easier said than done. Nowadays, it is easy to be influenced by what everyone else is doing. The music industry is more saturated than every and it has become more difficult to stand out from the crowd. If you follow the trends and write songs that you think will do well commercially, you risk losing one of the key elements that makes an artist special: authenticity. Take the time to create music that is unique and speaks to you. Stay authentic.
Tip 2: Be self-sufficient
Being self-sufficient when it comes to your musical project is very attractive to A&R reps. This could mean a number of things: being able to record and produce your own music, having a solid fanbase, even being able to properly pitch your music. Today artists have to wear multiple hats to get ahead in their career. Not only are they expected to write great songs, but they are also expected to promote them properly in order to get heard. However, being self-sufficient doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on your own- and you shouldn’t! Take charge of your project by identifying it’s weak spots: where could you use some help? Need a sound engineer to properly mix your demos? Contact local studios for rates. Need to make an eye-catching music video? Start brainstorming directors you could potentially work with. There are so many professionals out there who you can collaborate with. Don’t have the budget? Learn how to do things yourself through research online- where there is a will, there is a way. Being self-sufficient is mostly about being organized.
Tip 3: Develop your storytelling and create a strong identity
Developing your storytelling and creating a strong identity are crucial elements to consider before you submit your music to A&R reps. It would be great if songs could speak for themselves, but this is not the case today. Artists need to be able to deliver a complete package. By creating an entire universe around your music, you will be able to stand out from the rest. Visuals are essential: high quality photographs and videos of live sessions or clips can make all the difference. With good storytelling and a strong identity, you will be able to grow your fanbase, spark interest, and invite listeners into your world. Check out our article all about to work on your storytelling here.
Tip 4: Establish a solid fanbase
If you have a solid fanbase already, this shows A&R reps that you have potential to be commercially successful. You can establish a solid fanbase in a variety of ways. If you’re just starting out, think small to begin with. Share your music with your friends and family and they will pass it along. Play shows and engage with the audience afterwards. If you’re not much of a people person, you can always establish a solid fanbase on social media. Try to focus on just one or two platforms where you can begin to build a community. Social networks work in different ways and have different audiences, so make sure to find one that suits you. The two most popular platforms where musicians can establish a solid fanbase are currently Instagram and TikTok. Of course, Youtube also can be a great place to grow your fanbase if you’re sharing live videos. Musicians have also been livestreaming their sets on Twitch. Get creative with it and have fun! Check out our article on how to manage your social media accounts as an artist and stand out.
Tip 5: Prepare your demos
If you’re reaching out to an A&R rep, you should have something new to show them. It’s good to include past releases so they can see your track record, but you should also be presenting them with new demos. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much interest in working together! Take the time to prepare quality demos, whether in a home studio or a professional studio. You don’t need 20 demos to get in touch with an A&R rep, often three or four is enough. Some professionals even say that sending just two songs, if they are good quality, can be enough to spark interest and leave the listener wanting more. The demo is your best sales tool, so make sure to invest the time and energy into making them.
Tip 6: Do your research on labels that correspond to your project
Not all labels will be suited to your musical project. Spend time researching labels that you would be interested in working with and that could be interested in working with you. To find labels that correspond to your project, first start looking at artists similar to you. Who are they signed with? Think about what kind of label you’d want to work with, an independent label or a major label, and also what they can offer you. There is a common misconception that signing with major record labels means automatic success, but this is not necessarily true for all artists. Though major labels may have more financial resources, some independent labels may have more time and energy to spend on developing your project.
Tip 7: Send your music to the right A&R person
Once you’ve compiled a list of labels that could be the right fit for you, it’s time to get your music to the right A&R person. Usually record labels have a contact form or email where people can reach out for general inquiries. If you wanna make sure your music gets listened to, you should dig a little deeper. Try to find the contact information for the A&R reps at that particular label. If there is more than one, figure out which artists they have worked with. Which A&R rep would be most interested in your style of music? If you’re having trouble finding the emails of A&R reps, check out the A&R reps that are using Groover! For 2 Grooviz, or 2 euros, you can send your demos and a pitch and get a response within 7 days. If you don’t hear back, you get your Grooviz reimbursed to send your music to another industry professional.
Tip 8: Send your music at the right time
A common mistake that independent artists make is getting in touch with A&R too early in their career or at the wrong time. It’s true that some artists get discovered and signed by labels even before they’ve released any music. Most of the time, however, A&R reps are interested in projects that are a bit more developed. If artists can show that they’ve managed to launch their career on their own and build a solid fanbase, this a good sign. If you submit your music to A&R when you’re still figuring out your sound and identity, you may not get a response. Labels are looking to sign artists in bloom, not artists that are still in the seeding phase. Also if you have just released new music, it may not be the right time to get in touch with A&R- unless you have a handful of unreleased demos to show them. It’s great to share your past work, but reach out to A&R reps when you have something new and fresh.
Tip 9: Personalize your messages and pitch your project
It’s time to pitch your project! Make sure to personalize your messages depending on the A&R rep you are reaching out to. Have you been following their label for awhile? Do they work with artists you admire? Show them that you are invested in what they do. Sending mass generic emails to all of the contacts on your list won’t get you very far. Also, make sure to keep it concise. Present yourself briefly with a quick biography and pitch your music. If you have any notable concert dates or press coverage to share, you can include this as well. Don’t forget to include links to your social media pages or website where they can find out more about you. If you have one, you can include a press kit in an attachment. Most importantly, send your demos by using a private Soundcloud or Youtube link. This is preferred over sending WAV or MP3 files. That way, they don’t have to take the time to download anything.
Tip 10: Follow up
If you don’t hear back after a couple of weeks, don’t be afraid to send a follow up email. A&R reps are busy scouting new talent and can easily overlook submissions that are sent directly to them. A simple follow up email to get their attention is totally acceptable.
Now that you have all the tools you need, it’s time to get to work! You can send your music to professionals in the industry to get guaranteed feedback and potential opportunities through Groover.