My A&R duties
“Please tell us about your duties in the position you have at the label: is your pay fixed, do you get paid a lot, how do you combine it with other things and how do you do it remotely, and how did you get the job? Maybe you can tell something else interesting that I didn’t ask?”
About the label
The label I work for is called JOOF, an acronym of its founder, John ‘00’ Fleming. The label was founded in 1998 (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!) and today is highly respected among fans of underground trance music.
JOOF consists of three sub-labels: JOOF Recordings, JOOF Mantra and JOOF Aura. Each one has its own style. I’ll throw a couple of examples below to make it clear what we are talking about.
On JOOF Recordings we release progressive, trance, sometimes a little bit of techno:
On JOOF Mantra we have psytrance with a non-mainstream sound (secretly, Mantra will have a little rebranding, I’ll write more later):
On JOOF Aura we have progressive house:
My position at the label is formally called A&R-manager, and I’m in charge of artists and repertoire.
Since the label is quite famous, a lot of artists want to release music here and send us their demos – a hundred emails a week. My main task is to listen to all the incoming demos and decide what fits and what doesn’t.
If the track fits our labels, I add it to Trello and we discuss it with the team there. The final decision on each track is made by the boss, John Fleming. In this sense, I act as a “filter”, first passing everything through myself, and only putting the best demos up for discussion. From my experience, it’s about 1 out of 200~300 demos.
In addition to that, I also communicate with the artists on the label and help with internal communication. In a nutshell, that’s it.
How I got the job
I got the job almost by chance: I just received an invitation letter and I took it. I hadn’t even thought about such a job before.
I had already released a few of my own releases on JOOF Recordings, so I had a trusting relationship with the label. I don’t know what criteria I was qualified for the position, but later the general manager said that he liked my writing and blogging.
I won’t tell you about the pay – that’s confidential information between me and the label, which I’m not going to disclose. And as for the how to manage everything, that a whole another topic.
In the end, I will share an experience about what all this has given me. Working as an A&R allowed me to look at the industry “on the other side of the border”, gain new experience, reputation, and acquire hundreds of new contacts. If you are a musician and have an opportunity to work for a record label, I recommend you to take this chance.
All in all, I don’t know how such stories can be useful to anyone, but if you are interested in anything else about labels or the music industry, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.