What do A&R Scouts do?A&R (Artist & Repertoire) was developed when it was rare for artists to write their own material. A&R in those days was concerned with matching artists with songwriters. Nowadays A&R is responsible for scouting new talent, signing it to a label and then overseeing all aspects of the process that leads up to the delivery of all finished recordings. As well as scouting and signing singers and musicians an A&R Scout will often manage the recording process and be concerned with the development of artists as they grow and mature.
The main job of an A&R Scout (also known as A&R Rep or Talent Scout), is keeping up with the new trends and new artists in the music industry as they emerge, and recommending them to A&R managers. They need an excellent understanding of the contemporary music scene. A large part of the job is reading trade papers, music magazines and websites. Blogs and social networking sites are a very important part of the process as they are the most organic source of information in spotting trends.
The A&R Scout will also spend a lot of time listening to music and attending numerous gigs, visiting clubs, going to showcases, listening to tapes and demo recordings, and watching videotapes of acts performing. They may also be responsible for helping find songs for the artists signed to the record label.
An A&R Scout works long hours and may start off not being paid. As they gain experience and a good track record they may be employed by a record label. They are often musicians themselves and may take on the A&R role for their own music or band. As technology changes there are different avenues for reaching new audiences. Attracting the attention of record labels and reaching fans directly is a role musicians are taking on for themselves, rather than relying on an A&R Scout from an established record label.
Many A&R Scouts start by being interested in music or playing in a band. They use the networks they make as musicians to go from the industry's creative side to the business side. Being involved in the music industry in any capacity can be very important in developing a career in A&R. Becoming involved in college radio stations, campus concert promotions, record reviewing or even working at a retail music outlet are all good work experience. Working in a studio or working in the post room of a label, or anything that keeps you near the industry, can be very helpful.
A&R is a job that requires going out at night to clubs to scout talent, interact with musical artists, and manage a creative process, so it is considered a glamorous occupation. Competition for jobs in A&R is so intense, many aspiring music industry professionals do not begin their careers in A&R. Rather, they get their foot in the door by working in the mailroom or as an executive assistant. They may start in a different department of a record label such as marketing, merchandising, or radio. Most A&R Scouts will need to have another source of income as the work is badly paid. There is so much competition for A&R work that many people are prepared to work for nothing to get a foot in the door. It is possible to earn a good income and in exceptional cases, if you are lucky enough to scout musicians who become very successful, to earn a lot of money.
A&R Scout jobs which have appeared on the Music Match jobsboard:
Job description sources include (but are not limited to) imdb.com, skillset.org and wikipedia.