What is the role of A&R in 2019? We break down the ins and outs of signing new (and established) talent with Katie Garcia, who oversees A&R for Secretly Group (Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, & Secretly Canadian) as well as her own label, Bayonet. We also look back at our conversation with A&R great Tom Whalley, whose signees have included everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Tupac. Plus, hear from RCA executive Tunji Balogun about how data informs A&R today.
The term “A&R guy” is tossed around casually in the music biz — but what does the A&R division of a label do? A&R teams are traditionally charged with finding new talent, guiding artists through the recording process and connecting artists with producers, songwriters and other collaborators. Their insight can have huge influence on an artist and label. Over the years, the role has changed with the music business. This week, respected A&R dude and founder of Loma Vista Recordings Tom Whalley tells us about his journey from the mailroom at Warner Bros. Records to chairman of the company. He also offers his perspective on how the job has changed — and the differences between working A&R at an indie and major label. Then we talk with Louis Posen, founder of established indie label Hopeless Records, about why the term “A&R” isn’t used at his company, and why a team approach to talent scouting works for them. Finally, Robby Morris, director of A&R at New York indie Matador Records, walks us through creative development at the label.