A&R: Who Are These People?
Company Politics There is a great deal of inter-company politics in doing A&R. First of all, even if the A&R person likes a band, it doesn't mean that the band is going to get signed. Often it has to be approved by the head of A&R, if there is one, as well as the president of the company. Sometimes A&R is done by committee and thus the band must be approved by the other A&R people. This can really cause some issues as each A&R person becomes wary of their comments on other's acts knowing that their act could be the next under the microscope. I have had times where I have had to convince the president of my company to approve an artist I was interested in signing. This is a risk because the project starts off with a disinterested president, and that can mean failure before the record is even finished. I have always believed that if an A&R person gets hired, he/she should be given the chance to sign one or two acts, and then if said acts fail, the A&R person can be blamed and dismissed. This is not always the way it works. Most A&R people try to bring in several acts before one finally makes the cut. Obviously, the pressure to succeed is extremely high, and A&R people must be willing to put their job on the line for the act that gets through. I don't know the exact figures, but the rate of failure for new acts is extremely high. So, chances are that the A&R executive will try to make his/her gamble as free of risk as possible, by looking at acts with some track record -- i.e. acts that have done some groundwork, sold a good number of CDs, have a large mailing list/fanbase, etc. The politics don't end after signing an act. Most record companies have many releases on their schedule fighting for attention. The A&R person (along with the marketing person assigned to the act) must fight for their baby band or new singer to get the attention of the promotion, sales, and publicity departments. This can sometimes lead to infighting and jealousy amongst A&R co-workers as they battle against each other to get their act to the top of the priority list. Think of an artist's career with a record company as a series of circles increasing in size. At the smallest circle is the A&R person. The next circle is the head of A&R, then the president of the company, then the marketing department, the promotions department, and the rest of the record company.
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