An A&R (Artist and Repertoire) representative, also known as an A&R rep, is an individual who works for a record label or music company and is responsible for discovering, signing, and developing musical talent. The role of an A&R rep is crucial in the music industry as they act as a bridge between the artists and the label.
The primary responsibility of an A&R rep is to seek out new and promising artists or bands that have the potential to achieve commercial success. They actively scout for talent by attending live performances, listening to demo recordings, and keeping a close eye on trends and developments in the music industry.
Recently, we had the pleasure to interview an A&R legend whose name is Nazar and who is currently with Estabrook Road.
Interview with A&R Legend Nazar
What do you look for in a demo?
The Artists’ Sound and Musical style, as a demo we know it will not be on the perfection side but to get a rough feeling of the Artists and what they embody.
Does the quality of an artist’s recording matter?
Most Definitely, when Artists send any type of material that is the finished product or for just feedback one thing that’s a big factor is the Sonic sound as we call it (Mix and Mastered) which should be industry standard.
Is it true that you guys won’t listen to a track if it hasn’t got your attention after 30 seconds?
Not necessarily- some tracks/songs will have a build to the whole storytelling part of it but there’s a thin line between a build and too much of a lag, I.e. intro being extremely long , if the sound quality is low, or if the energy or emotions isn’t into the track. People want to feel what you are saying. So these are things that make or break the first 30 seconds into it for people to stay engaged.
How much do trends affect your decision to sign artists?
Well, there are 2 factors. 1. A trend is just that a trend, if a trend is the standard then we will replace artists every 6 months which isn’t true. 2. This is the key to a trend and that would be “Marketable”, if you are Marketable that means you become a brand and can create trends just by that.
Do artists ever get signed from sending in demos? Or will the A&R always find the artist via their own means?
Yes, I’ve seen artists get signed off their demos but that’s few in between because they built their fanbase and brand beforehand. And yes also to A&R’s finding artists by their own means, in this age of technology vs traditional beforehand you have more of a widespread search through Social Media and Digital music platforms to discover new talent.
How has streaming affected the music industry and do A&R build artists from scratch nowadays?
This is just my opinion, yes streaming has affected music in a negative way but a positive also the positive is you can Self-service your musical outlet, now the negative is you have any and everyone that can release music by Selfservice DSP’s which over-saturates music, especially in the Hip hop Genre. As far as an A&R building an Artist – yes it can be done but it’s a whole process that’s why we recommend Artist Development to help the artists create their foundations.
If you were an artist; would you sign to a major label?
Yes, if I was an Artist in today’s scene, I would stay indie and build myself to the level to where I can successfully land a record deal with a major. When signed to a major you have a whole staff and machine behind you vs Indie you have to D.I.Y and it’s very hefty on the budget unless you have the backing.
Have there been any immediate effects on you due to the current economic climate?
I would say while I support artists releasing music and grinding day in and day out to get heard the economical structure has everyone releasing tons of music either every Friday or Tuesday with no effort only to make money by any means necessary, so with that the immediate effects are well along the lines of total water down the highly saturated genre, especially in Hip Hop. When I’m listening to Artists it’s now everyone sounds the same and doesn’t have the proper tools or knowledge on the how-to’s vs don’ts – and because of this, you have a pool of music that’s only having dollars signs in their sight without learning the art and gaining these tools to help with their financial success.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the music business?
The ways of traditions are out the window, it’s a very big market but few can capitalize because the industry has changed so much. The Days of Physical sales are pretty much dead, touring is down and Lucrative deals don’t seem like lucrative deals anymore because of it.
Any other general advice?
Yes, to Artists trying to break into the industry stay dedicated and keep grinding by doing things the right way – in the right way I’m speaking of making sure your business is in order, taking short cuts truly does not exist in this industry, and please invest smart into your career just don’t pay all these Social Media so-called gurus who hit your DM’s for short cuts because it’s not worth it and their not real industry folks with the knowledge that you seek.