Tips of the Trade: A&R

I get asked about the subject of “how can I get a label interested in me?” or similar – I think I have actually posted something about this in the past – but in the latest issue of AMRAP (APRA Mag) this article/interview with Scott Horscroft mentioned a few points from someone else in the business.
Now I have taken out 3 questions as they are irrelevant for the purpose of the point i want to make (and have no relevance on these areas)- the rest is verbatim (Note: the parts in italics and bold my highlighting of points I think are especially relevant for the new emerging artist).

Hope something is of benefit to you.

January 30, 2014 –

In this month’s edition of Tips of the Trade, we talked to Scott Horscroft, General Manager of A&R for EMI Australia, about what drew him to the industry, how artists can get their music heard, and why he decided to purchase The Grove Studios.

You’ve had a lot of experience in A&R. What are you looking for in an artist?
Finding artists dedicated to being an artist is something that always excites me, artists who live and breathe their craft and are driven to learn, research and experiment with songwriting and production. It is important for musicians to remember that it isn’t easy to get your music into the heart and minds of a broad audience and to achieve this take years of dedication, trial and error.

What do you believe are some of the key ingredients that can make an artist successful? Is it more than just the music?
The key ingredient for a musician is definitely writing and producing fantastic music, but an understanding of how the industry works is also important in developing a career.
Having an experienced manager that can that can offer advice and help develop connections in the industry is a critical move. It is also important for an artist to understand how to market and promote their craft from using online socials to interacting with other musician connecting with the industry.

What’s the best way to get noticed by A&R? Should artists approach A&R reps directly or wait for them to find you?
There are many ways to get the attention of A&R reps as they can be found lurking around inner city gigs most nights of the week. However the most successful way to get the attention of A&R is to make incredible music and have a solid plan to developing your career. A&R teams are constantly looking for exciting new music to develop or collaborate with. Focusing on creating a great product and pushing to create a fan base is the easiest way to attract A&R. If you are selling out a small venue in the CBD I’m sure you will find a plethora of A&R reps in the crowd.

Are they any obvious Do’s and Don’ts in terms of trying to get noticed by A&R?
No, I don’t think so. Hearing from passionate musicians and managers is one of the privileges of the job. Again, having a solid plan to develop your career, surrounding yourself with experienced professionals is always beneficial, from a good engineer to record your music, an experienced producer to collaborate with, a manager who can advise you on developing your career, to working with a label to promote your music.

When A&R reps look for artists, are they generally looking for someone at a certain stage of their career? I.e. Do you have to be relatively established? If so, how “established” is established?
There are opportunities for artists at all stages of their career, from development deals to distribution deals, EMI is renowned for being the artist’s label and we continue to believe in this mantra

Where do you think the music industry is headed in Australia? Predictions for future trends?
Australia is in an inspiring place creatively at the moment, with innovative and cutting edge music being recognised internationally. I hope to see this trend continue and for Australian artists to challenge the boundaries of music and create new twists and turns that resonate around the world. It’s great to see artists, labels and fans find new ways to create and discover music.

Work, gigs, professional product, etc etc etc  – – – if you are “in the business” then “treat it like a business”