Similar Titles

A&R Manager, A&R Representative, A&R Coordinator, A&R Consultant, A&R Director, A&R Specialist, A&R Agent, A&R Scout, A&R Supervisor, A&R Associate

Job Description

Ever wonder how new musicians get discovered by record labels? It’s usually through a combination of artists promoting their work and labels scouting to find the most talented acts. These music industry recruiters are known as A&R (artists and repertoire) Executives! 

Every record label or music publisher has an A&R department tasked to find and develop the careers of recording artists. Within this team, A&R Execs serve as the scouts who go out and bring back talent that can earn money for the company. Like other types of talent scouts, their job is to do reconnaissance by surfing through social media and popular music sites where new artists upload their tracks. They also comb through trade magazines and hit the clubs to catch live acts that are generating a lot of buzz. 

A&R Executives decide which artists are a good fit for their label, then make first contact and talk artists through the steps of signing a potential deal. In some cases, musicians already have a manager who can represent them with the A&R Exec on the legal terms of a contract. Execs stick with their clients to help develop their careers, while also continuing to find new bands to sign.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Helping to discover and sign new music artists 
  • Working with up-and-comer talent and building strong relationships
  • Contributing to the overall growth of the music industry
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • A&R Executives may work part- or full-time. Their duties involve overtime for travel, visiting nightlife establishments where bands play, and holding after-hours meetings with potential clients. Some report attending gigs “four to five nights every week!”

Typical Duties

  • Stay up to date on current music trends
  • Develop and maintain and good “ear” for music 
  • Monitor music streaming platforms and follow influential artists 
  • Pay attention to which artists may be underrecognized
  • Be familiar with their employer’s (i.e., the record label’s) preferred genres and their best-selling talent
  • Listen to demos submitted to their label
  • Reach out to artists that could be a good fit for the label
  • Attend live events such as concerts and open mics to watch acts in-person and see how they perform on stage (and how the audiences respond)
  • Schedule meetings with potential talent and their managers
  • Offer deal memos to establish initial business relationships prior to formalizing deals
  • Discuss details of record deals (i.e. binding legal contracts)
  • Help set up dates and locations for signed artists to get into recording studios
  • Offer creative input and critiques of artists’ songs and album concepts 
  • Plan out album release schedules
  • Track record sales
  • Assist with developing artists’ careers 
  • Suggest and setup collaborations between artists to boost sales and exposure

Additional Responsibilities

Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Creativity
  • Desire to help artists succeed
  • Diligence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Goal setting
  • Initiative
  • Monitoring
  • Multitasking
  • Networking
  • Patience
  • Persuasive 
  • Quality assurance
  • Resourcefulness 
  • Strong communication skills 
  • Time management

Technical Skills

  • Business, marketing, and promotion skills 
  • Deep familiarity with the music industry, concerts and tours, merchandising, and other revenue-generating activities 
  • Familiarity with legal contracts
  • Knowledge of music trends
  • Understanding of music and musical performances
  • Basic understanding of music recording studios and equipment
  • Knowledge of digital marketing, social media, and YouTube monetization
Different Types of Organizations
  • Record labels and other music producers
Expectations and Sacrifices

Record labels can’t exist without artists to record and perform music that’s going to sell albums and concert tickets. And it takes the hard work and ongoing efforts of A&R Executives to find, sign, and nurture such acts. The tasks require a lot of research and listening to bands, trying to find a sound that matches the label’s genre(s) and has the potential to connect with listeners. 

With record sales down due to the advent of streaming platforms and the escalation of digital music pirating, many A&R departments have scaled back on staff due to budgetary cuts. Those left with jobs have to work that much harder and with less of a safety cushion when it comes to finding talent that’ll bring in the bucks. Expectations run high, and execs may have to sacrifice some sleep—because they’ve got to get out there and hustle! 

Current Trends

Record sales may be down, but the U.S. music industry is still raking in major dollars. Per Zippia, the “annual revenue of the global recorded music industry” was $25.9 billion in 2021. But the most successful acts are pulling in vastly more income from concert touring than anything else. 

For example, Business Insider noted that the popular rock band U2 made 95% of their earnings from touring, with less than 4% from streaming and album sales. That’s another reason why A&R Executives need to snag performers with charisma and dedication. They need talent they can rely on to get on stage consistently (and on-time), perform live night after night, and sell tickets and merchandise.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

A&R Executives were probably music buffs and audiophiles growing up. They may have also sung, played an instrument, or had musical ambitions, as well. Like other industry insiders, they likely stayed well-informed about the behind-the-scenes happenings, perhaps through reading music-related magazines or scrolling endlessly through blogs.

Education and Training Needed
  • There’s no set educational path for A&R Executives, but at a minimum they need a high school diploma or GED
  • These execs don’t need a college degree, but having one doesn’t hurt, either. Some workers in this field major in music, business, music business, or marketing/digital marketing
    • A certificate is a faster, more affordable way to gain some academic credentials without going the full degree route. For example, UCLA Extension campus offers a 10-class Music Business certificate for “aspiring music industry executives, producers, managers, songwriters, and publisher”
  • The main training needed is real-world industry experience. Most A&R Executives start out hustling in entry-level positions or as interns at the record label
Things to look for in an University
  • Since a degree isn’t needed, it’s up to you whether to take college classes or not. Helpful classes may include music, business, music business, sales, marketing, design, and digital marketing
  • If attending a college program, compare costs of tuition, room and board, and scholarship opportunities
  • Look into federal financial aid for students to see what you qualify for
  • Decide which is best for you—traditional on-campus program, online, or hybrid (a mix of both)
Things to do in High School and College
  • A&R Executives can prepare by taking music and marketing classes in high school
  • In college, it may help to take classes in contract law, too!
  • Volunteer for school activities where you can practice soft skills, including written and verbal communication skills, leadership, project management, and presentation 
  • Apply for part-time sales jobs to get some real-world experience in the art of persuasion
  • Listen to plenty of new and emerging artists on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Pandora, and other streaming services 
  • Read all you can about the music industry, via magazines and sites like Mojo, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Quietus, Under the Radar, SPIN, The FADER, Consequence of Sound, and others
  • Watch YouTube channels like Music Hustler to learn more about the industry 
  • Check out the bios of rising A&R Execs, as well as more established ones
  • Attend local music events! Support and make connections with local bands and see if any have managers who’ve interacted with A&R reps
  • Learn what advice A&R Executives give to artists
Typical Roadmap
A&R Gladeo Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • A huge factor in what makes an A&R Executive successful is their own motivation and determination. It’s hard to break into the industry and many people simply give up too soon or don’t put in enough effort in the first place
  • Most A&R Executives work their way up from other positions at the record label or music producer. Some may spend years with an employer before getting promoted to an executive role
  • Consider start out with a small indie label before shooting for a major label
  • Set up notification alerts on and other job portals to get alerted when music-related jobs and internships come up
  • Read job posts carefully and make sure to work relevant keywords into your application
  • Internships are a common way to get started in the industry but they are not always paid (and interns often get stuck doing the stuff no one else wants to do)
    • Reality check: Internships in the music industry can be tough and unglamorous. But if you’re in a situation where you can afford to work without pay for a while—and you have the patience and willingness to be someone’s lackey—then an internship may be the fastest route to get in!
    • You’ll gain some practical work experience while “paying your dues” and getting exposure to the industry from the inside   
    • Having a certificate may help you land an internship! UCLA Extension campus offers a 10-class Music Business certificate for “aspiring music industry executives, producers, managers, songwriters, and publisher”
    • Check out “A Day in the Life of: Music Label Intern” on YouTube
  • Music industry jobs may be confined to very specific geographic locations. In other words, you might have to move to a new state to find work! 
    • notes that the best cities for musicians are Glendale, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; Atlanta, GA; New York, NY; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis, MN; and Washington DC
  • Attend music conferences and events where industry representatives will be present
  • nd keep track of application deadlines
  • Stay in touch with your former supervisors and teachers who can serve as references
  • Let your enthusiasm for the music industry shine! Employers want to see evidence of your soft skills, academic qualifications, and devotion to the business
How to Climb the Ladder
  • The best way to move up is to find and sign talent that sells albums and makes money for the label
  • Build your reputation as a results-driven professional who gets things done while being responsible, respectful, and inspiring
  • Demonstrate sincere caring for artists you sign and their career progression
  • Find ways to forge creative collaborations that can increase exposure for new bands and give established acts a boost  
  • Read books, review website resources, and watch videos to get ideas that’ll keep your record label fresh and relevant as consumer tastes in music evolve   
  • Earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree or complete additional training/advanced certifications
  • Stay ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in music and the platforms used to reach audiences (streaming services, social media, etc.) 
  • Mentor others and offer to help aspiring record label employees
  • Be active in industry-related organizations. Attend events, network, and build social capital
  • Start your own label!
Recommended Tools/Resources

Professional Organizations

Websites and Magazines


Plan B

It’s nearly impossible to waltz into an A&R Executive role without some serious music industry credentials under your belt. But there are numerous industry-related careers to explore, either as a launch pad or to stay in permanently. Here are just a few:

  • Artist Relations 
  • Booking Agent
  • Business Manager
  • Campus Representative
  • Concert Promoter
  • Consumer Researcher
  • Entertainment Attorney
  • Field Merchandiser
  • Licensing Representative
  • Marketing Coordinator


Online Courses and Tools