Written by Kristian Floate
A&R (Artist and Repertoire) representatives form a hidden backbone of the music industry, quietly detecting upcoming artists that they deem to have the potential to make it big. Many artists look to ‘get noticed’ by these talent scouts, connecting them to record labels, promoters and other big industry names to ultimately boost their career beyond whats possible on their own. We recently caught up with a London-based A&R rep to discover what they look for in an artist. Adrian Marioghae is the A&R representative for SAFO Music Group, and is responsible for hunting down new names in the music industry – but how does Adrian make the decision about who to get in touch with?
Q: How do you gauge the popularity of an artist?
'To gauge popularity I look at two things: follower count and engagement. It's one thing to have 100K followers on Instagram but if only 100 actually engage with the content consistently then that's not a good sign.'
What is your process in recruiting a new artist?
'I'll look at a couple songs they've made to get a quick idea of what their sound is like and also see when they were last active across their socials. I'll also look at what socials they have and where their audience is. In terms of connecting to the audience I just talk to them like I'd talk to any random person and not go in all business straight away. Of course, I'd compliment their music, but I'd get to know them a little first before going into what their needs are and seeing if it's something I can help them with'
Is there any information that you find challenging to source about an artist?
'I guess any metrics they don't want you to see, or metrics that need to be gathered from multiple sources to give an overall picture. For example, if they have 1000 followers on IG and 500 on Twitter then it's easy to say they have a total of 1500 but how many of those 1000 followers ALSO follow the artist in Twitter?'
'Also it may be tough to see how many streams an artist pulls on their content. For example, Spotify doesn't show number of streams below a certain number so although you would know that means the song isn't that popular you have no real clue whether that's 2 streams or 200. The one last thing I'd say can be tough to source about an artist is where they've disappeared to if they've been inactive for a while. Sometimes they could be taking a break from social media but that's not always the case, like if they've gone for a rebrand or if you stumble across them on YouTube so you wanna find their IG or Tik Tok but they have no links to any other socials.'
How would you sum-up the role and search criteria of an A&R representative?
'To summarise I'd say an A&R looks at the following: Social media presence, what socials they actually have (TikTok is of particular interest nowadays), how many followers they have, and how many likes/comments they have. Knowing where their music exists and their relative streaming numbers are important indicators of a musicians potential, but live performance history, quality of music and how the person communicates online is equally as important. Essentially, if an artist can show they can build an audience and get them to buy into their brand - your average A&R would be looking for someone like that. Yes, quality music matters but at the end of the day it's a business! So, it's about showing that you're an artist that can make money and showing A&Rs that you're worth taking in to maximise that ability.'
What can we learn from this?
So, A&R reps find value in seeing how engaged you are with your audience, how active you are, and simply how many followers are actually paying attention to what you’re posting. Ultimately, interactions reflect loyalty, and if an artist is able to maintain their like counts and keep fans coming back for more, there’s clear potential for growth and a great indicator of where an artist might end up in months or years from now. Make sure A&R reps can see an accurate reflection of you and your music online - set up a Linktree to store links to videos, releases, upcoming gigs and social media pages all in one place- making it easy for industry figureheads to locate all the information they could possibly need! Encourage your audience to interact, respond to questions and hold Q&A’s – some of the many ways you can show how active and engaging you are.