Careers

A&R Music Talent Scout at Universal Music

What is an A&R Music Talent Scout?

As the title suggests, an A&R music talent scout is someone who finds music acts that were previously undiscovered. Talent scouts spend lots of time at gigs around the country looking for the next big band or singer. Once they find them and have signed them to their label, they work with producers and other colleagues to record and promote their music. 

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What does an A&R Music Talent Scout do?

An A&R music talent scout will normally:

  • Go to gigs and clubs on the lookout for new, undiscovered artists with huge potential
  • Encourage new artists to sign a record deal with the label that they represent
  • Assemble a team to record and produce an artist’s first album or single
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Is a talent finding career right for me?

Live and breathe music? Know the difference between a good singer and a great singer? Can you spot original and unique music when you hear it? 

That’s a great start! But A&R professionals don’t just need to have a ‘good ear’. To do this job, you’ll also need to really understand today’s music ‘market’. That means what people are currently listening to (and loving) – so you can make a good guess at what direction the music industry might be going in next. Then, you’ll use that knowledge and instinct to predict whether a new artist will be popular. 

The best people working in A&R are: 

  • Passionate (OK, obsessive) about music
  • Friendly and likeable – you’ll be working with lots of different people
  • Hardworking – this is no nine-to-five job (the hours can be long and the work isn’t always well paid)
  • Loyal – once you’ve signed your act you’ll do everything you can to help them along the road to success
  • Determined – great new talent doesn’t grow on trees, so you’ll probably have to sit through a lot of not-great bands in order to find a handful of exceptional ones
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How to become an A&R Music Talent Scout

More important than anything, is that you’re passionate about music. To be an A&R professional you’ll need encyclopaedic knowledge of music – old and new – so get your headphones on!

Start by listening to as much new music as possible. Radio stations like 6 Music champion up and coming artists, and Soundcloud and MySpace are great sources of unsigned or brand new artists.

Don’t only look forwards – look backwards too. You’ll also need to know about the history of music, so you can put new artists in context and spot their influences. Don’t know where to start? Find out who your favourite current artists are inspired by or look up to, and download some of their music. 

Read as much as you can about music too. There are lots of music blogs and online magazines that will give you a fantastic insight into the industry and ‘underground’ (not yet mainstream) trends. 

If you can, try to do some of the following: 

  • Get work experience at a local record label
  • Volunteer at your local concert venue
  • Get a job, or some work experience, ‘running’ (doing errands and small tasks) for a recording studio
  • Work with any friends or family who are connected to the music industry
  • Start you own blog. Write what you think is cool or not cool about different music trends 
  • Record your own music, or create your own music events (like a ‘battle of the bands’ competition at your school, college or uni) 

There are some courses and qualifications that might help you too: 

  • GCSE/A-level in music
  • A BTEC/degree in music, music production, sound engineering, or music industry management 
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