Artists and repertoire (A&R) is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters.It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label or publishing company; every activity involving artists to the point of album release is generally considered under the purview, and responsibility, of A&R.
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.
The A&R division of a record label is responsible for finding new recording artists and bringing those artists to the record company. Personnel in the A&R division are expected to understand the current tastes of the market and to be able to find artists that will be commercially successful. For this reason, A&R people are often young and many are musicians, music journalists or record producers.
An A&R executive is authorized to offer a record contract, often in the form of a "deal memo": a short informal document that establishes a business relationship between the recording artist and the record company.The actual contract negotiations will typically be carried out by rival entertainment lawyers hired by the musician's manager and the record company.
A&R executives rely mostly on the word of mouth of trusted associates, critics and business contacts, rather than on unsolicited demo tapes.They also tend to favor the bands that play in the same city as the record label's offices.
Word of mouth or viva voce, is the passing of information from person to person using oral communication, which could be as simple as telling someone the time of day. Storytelling is a common form of word-of-mouth communication where one person tells others a story about a real event or something made up. Oral tradition is cultural material and traditions transmitted by word of mouth through successive generations. Storytelling and oral tradition are forms of word of mouth that play important roles in folklore and mythology. Another example of oral communication is oral history—the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker. Oral history preservation is the field that deals with the care and upkeep of oral history materials collected by word of mouth, whatever format they may be in.
The A&R division of a record label oversees the music style and recording. This includes helping the artist to find the right record producer, scheduling time in a recording studio and advising the artist on all aspects of making a high-quality recording. They work with the artist to choose the best songs (i.e.repertoire) to record. For artists who do not write their own music, the A&R person will assist in finding songs and songwriters. A&R executives maintain contact with their counterparts at music publishing companies to get new songs and material from songwriters and producers.
In the music industry, a music publisher is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television.
As the record nears completion, the A&R department works closely with the artist to determine whether the record is acceptable to the record company. This process may include suggesting that new songs need to be written or that some album tracks need to be re-recorded. A key issue is whether the album has a single: a particular track which can be used to market the record on radio, television, or streaming media.
Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. With its focus on the customer, marketing is one of the premier components of business management.
Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.
Once the record is completed, the A&R department consults with marketing, promotion, the artist and their management to choose one or more singles to help promote the record.
The tastes of particular A&R executives have influenced the course of music history. A&R man John H. Hammond discovered Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen. Hammond's colleagues were initially skeptical of these artists because none of them appeared to be creating "commercial" music. Hammond's instincts proved to be correct, and these artists went on to sell hundreds of millions of records.George Daly, Hammond's colleague at Columbia Records, proved the same instinct with bands as varied as outliers as The Tubes and Tool during his career. Geffen Records' Gary Gersh signed the band Nirvana at a time when alternative rock music was not considered commercial. Gersh was able to convince his co-workers to push the record in spite of their misgivings. In cases like these, A&R people have radically changed the direction of popular musical tastes and introduced large numbers of people to new sounds.
This kind of prescience is, however, the exception rather than the rule. Historically, A&R executives have tended to sign new artists that fit into recent trends and who resemble acts that are currently successful. For example, Columbia Records' A&R man in the 1950s, Mitch Miller, favored traditional pop singers like Guy Mitchell and Patti Page, and rejected early rock-'n'-rollers Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
This "trend following" mindset has generated several waves of narrowly defined genres, leading to a perception of triteness, including teen pop (1998–2001), alternative rock (1993–1996), glam metal (1986–1991) and disco (1976–1978). Trend following can be counter-productive, since it has often led to a backlash. Towards the end of the life of each wave, record companies have found themselves faced with enormous losses, as consumers' tastes changed. For example, at the end of the disco boom in 1978, millions of records were returned by record retailers, causing a deep recession in the music business that lasted until 1982, when Michael Jackson's Thriller finally brought the public back into record stores in large numbers.
The general move towards more conservative and business-minded signings from the 1980s onwards is seen to be symptomatic of an industry where the most powerful figures are no longer music fans or people with musical backgrounds, but business people. Traditionally A&R executives were composers, arrangers and producers – Atlantic Records's heads Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun were producers and composers respectively – but an A&R with musical ability and knowledge has become a rarity, with Ron Fair and Martin Kierszenbaum being notable recent exceptions.The composer and arranger Richard Niles has said,
What you've got now is huge multinational companies where most of their A&R staff are businessmen. They’re people who look at music from the standpoint of marketing, not from the standpoint of music and talent. They will say, "Go out and get me anything that's popular now."
Hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan referenced this stereotype of the business-minded A&R executive in their single "Protect Ya Neck", metaphorically likening them to "mountain climbers".
According to Rhythm King Records and Lizard King Records founder Martin Heath, the A&R community in the UK is more integrated than it is in the US, being very London-centric and encompassing a relatively small number of people."If scouts are chasing a band, you’ll see the same thirty people in one room. You get a herd mentality in the UK, but also some very diverse signings as well," he said in an interview with HitQuarters. Heath believes that in the USA it is more typical for A&R to wait until a band is established – having attracted other offers or achieved a level of sales – before taking action, a technique which often works out as being more expensive.
New forms of digital distribution have changed the relationship between consumers and the music they choose. Gerd Leonhard and others argue that the wide selection of music on digital services has allowed music consumers to bypass the traditional role of A&R.In the wake of declining record sales, a large number of A&R staffers have been terminated. It is unclear whether A&R executives will shape the future of musical tastes as they have in the past.
A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.
Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Motown Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. It was originally founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, and was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960. Its name, a portmanteau of motor and town, has become a nickname for Detroit, where the label was originally headquartered.
Jive Records was an American record label under the RCA Music Group formed in 1981 by Zomba Records. Formerly headquartered in New York City, the label was best known for a string of successes with hip hop artists in the 1980s, and also in teen pop and boy bands during the 1990s and early 2000s.
In Utero is the third and final studio album by American rock band Nirvana, released on September 21, 1993, by DGC Records. Nirvana intended for the record to diverge significantly from the polished, refined production of its previous album, Nevermind (1991). To capture a more abrasive and natural sound, the group hired engineer Steve Albini to record In Utero during a two-week period in February 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The music was quickly recorded within that time with few studio embellishments. The song lyrics and album packaging largely incorporated medical imagery that conveyed frontman Kurt Cobain's outlook on his publicized personal life and his band's newfound fame.
John Henry Hammond II was an American record producer, civil rights activist, and music critic from the 1930s to the early 1980s. In his service as a talent scout, Hammond became one of the most influential figures in 20th-century popular music. He is the father of famous blues musician John P. Hammond.
A Taste of Honey was an American recording act, formed in 1971 by associates Janice–Marie Johnson and Perry Kibble. In 1978, they had one of the best known chart-toppers of the disco era, "Boogie Oogie Oogie". After their popularity waned during the 1980s, Johnson went on to record as a solo artist and released the album One Taste of Honey which produced numerous minor hits. In 2004, Hazel Payne and Janice–Marie Johnson reunited for the first time in over 20 years to perform on the PBS specials Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion and My Music: Funky Soul Superstars.
Italo disco is a music genre which originated in Italy and was mainly produced from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Italo disco evolved from the then-current underground dance, pop, and electronic music, both domestic and foreign and developed into a diverse genre. The genre employs drum machines, synthesizers, and occasionally vocoders. It is usually sung in English, and to a lesser extent in Italian and Spanish.
Tommy Boy Entertainment is an American independent record label founded in 1981 by Tom Silverman. The label is credited with launching the music careers of Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, De La Soul, House of Pain, and Naughty By Nature. Tommy Boy is also credited with introducing genres such as EDM, Latin freestyle, and Latin hip hop to mainstream audiences in America.
The music industry consists of the companies and individuals that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and selling live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, compositions and sheet music, and the organizations and associations that aid and represent music creators. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate in the industry are: the songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces; the singers, musicians, conductors and bandleaders who perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music and/or sheet music ; and those that help organize and present live music performances .The music industry involves the production, distribution, and sale of music in a variety of forms as well as the promotion of live musical performance.For many of us, music is a nearly constant part of everyday life; it is playing in the background while driving, shopping, or watching television.
Orrin Keepnews was an American jazz writer and record producer known for founding Riverside Records and Milestone Records, for freelance work, and for his work at other labels.
Ray Martínez is an American dance music icon, who was a musician, songwriter, and singer in the late 1970s and 1980s, and later became a record producer, engineer, and record label owner/executive. He is known within the industry for having helped originate what became known as the "Miami Sound", created out of a prominent independent record label of that era, TK Records. He used his innovative sound to create Paris International Records, his own independently owned label, which released multiple dance hits during the era.
Roy Charles Hammond, better known as Roy C or Roy "C", is an American southern soul singer, songwriter and record executive, best known for his 1965 hit, "Shotgun Wedding". Another song, "Impeach the President", which he recorded and produced with a high school group, the Honey Drippers, has had one of the most sampled drum tracks in hip hop music.
Henry Stone, born Henry David Epstein, was an American record company executive and producer whose career spanned the era from R&B in the early 1950s through the disco boom of the 1970s to the 2010s. He was best known as co-owner and president of TK Records, but reportedly set up more than 100 record labels, and generated more than 100 million dollars in record sales across the world. Stone was described as "an acute businessman who always made sure that contracts and publishing agreements were written in his favor."
Safta Jaffery is the founder and owner of one of the first producer management companies in the United Kingdom called SJP/Dodgy Productions. The company's producers have produced albums for artists such as Radiohead, The Stone Roses, Roger Waters, Rolling Stones, Razorlight, Supergrass, Coldplay and The Cure, among others. They have amassed over 150 certified platinum, gold and silver sales awards all across the globe. Jaffery is also the co-owner and managing director of the music publishing company Taste Music, Ltd. and the artist management company Taste Media, Ltd. Taste Media has managed and produced a number of high-profile artists, most notably discovering, and representing the rock band Muse.
Nick Heath is an English music producer, publisher, designer and film producer. He is a son of British big band leader Ted Heath.
Dave Kusek is an American business executive, music educator, author, and software developer known for his work in the music industry. After working as chief engineer at Star Instruments in the 1970s, in 1980 he became the founding CEO of the music software company Passport Designs. With Passport he helped develop Master Tracks and Encore, and also co-developed software and hardware that utilized the then newly introduced MIDI interface.
Oscar Joseph Llord is a Latin music entertainment executive, producer and businessman. He is the owner of We R 1 Music Group. Llord headed Sony Music Entertainment's Latin division from 1996 through 2003.