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How To Get Your Demos Heard By An A&R Manager

By Ben Byre


The music industry is clearly extremely competitive and, to be honest, it is a merciless pit of aspiring stars doing anything they can in order to make a career out of something they love. Navigating your way through the proverbial maze on your way to stardom can be particularly strenuous without some sort of guidance. The first and most crucial bit of information anyone should know is how to target the first line of defense in a record label, the Artist & Repertoire Manager. This blog will act as a guide, outlining some nifty tips and tricks that will help you segment different managers, and have more of a chance in getting the recognition you deserve for your music.

Who Are Artist and Repertoire (A&R) Managers?

The A&R job was originally a role within the record label tasked with identifying, attracting and developing record label talent. The role of A&R has evolved as the music industry has changed dramatically since the reliance of the internet, file sharing, and streaming service has increased.

A&R jobs still exist, but modern day A&R people don’t necessarily work exclusively for record labels. They could also lead a band, promote a club, or run a small record label.

The role of A&R has declined from its prime as musicians have been able to connect directly with fans via the internet. But A&R in the music industry today encompasses a wider range of activities than ever before. There are different levels of A&R’s. Entry-level will be responsible for scouting the talent.

The person making decisions of who to approach and who to offer a contract to will typically be in a managerial level position. Furthermore, there are steps that are essential to take before even submitting your demo to a label. Following these will give you more of a chance at a successful demo submission.

What record labels are looking for?

In order to get signed to a decent label, you should be aware what labels are looking for.

Labels like to know that artist has accomplished some traction by himself and has some decent amount of fans and some traffic of followers on social media. If you don’t have any presence online, labels will be significantly less interested in you as an artist.

Self motivation and pushing yourself above other artists can also help you gain some interest from the labels. Let them know who you are and your social networks.

Obviously for a record label to start evaluate your music and get your demo heard, it needs to be top notch, but that’s not everything.

The Steps To Take Before Submitting

Research Labels!

Before you send your demo, it’s a good idea to compile a list of labels that might be interested in you and your work. Submitting your jazz demo to a label with a rock artists portfolio is a waste of time. Ask yourself some questions: Which musicians do they like, based on their signed artists? Which labels are related to the type of music you play? Spend some time researching online artists you think are like you and the brands that work with them.

Investigate Demo Submission Policies

The vast majority of record labels have specific demo submission guidelines , and as such, each artist must meet the same requirements, making it a fair process. Sone of them do not accept unsolicited demos, meaning they are not open to receive new music from artists they don’t know, labels are only open to receive your new demo through out someone from their network. If you’ve encountered such a record company and you’re really find the label suitable for your kind of music, do some research, maybe you can reach out to them through a 3rd party person who might know them.

Keep it short

It is imperative to remember that it isn’t just the large labels that are flooded with demos, and many labels will listen to whatever they get. Facilitating their work will only help your case. Make sure your demo should encompass a short piece with the following:

  • Two or three best songs. Nothing will be heard if it’s any more than that.
  • Your demo should be clearly labelled with your name and email address (You are more likely to receive an email response).
  • Organic short description of you. Keep it on topic and to the point. No need to dive into irrelevant information.

I’ve Submitted, What’s Next?

Keep In Touch & Follow Up

  • Once you’ve submitted your demo for the labels/A&R reps, you should pursue the labels to make sure they’ve received and you should ask for their feedback. If you hear nothing, an email a month after demo submission is a good place to start. It can take several months for a studio to start reviewing your demo, but every once in a while a friendly email will help your demo stand out from the crowd. Even a decline review is important so ask for feedback when possible.
  • Unless the label tells you otherwise, don’t call. It puts people in awkward positions and you won’t be looked upon favorably. If you don’t hear back, send another email, and above all, don’t blame the A&R staff for not listening!

Have Responses Ready.

  • Check your inbox on a regular basis for feedback and replies from A&R departments who appreciate what you do. Our advice, be responsive to all the answers but also be patient in your decisions. A&R Managers are busy people and, for the most part, don’t always respond immediately to your submissions. Any contact with the A&R reps after submitting the demo is completely your responsibility, so be professional.

How Beneficial Is Feedback?

If no one seems interested in listening to your music, it probably means you’re going wrong in the process somewhere along the way. Maybe your song isn’t reaching the right people or your music needs improvement. Getting professional feedback on your music is an essential step in continuing to better the quality of your music. Constantly seeking advice from music experts, taking it seriously, and knowing how to handle criticism is the only way to grow as an artist in the music industry.

Don’t give up

Due to the large number of independent musicians, the harsh reality is that it is difficult for a demo to be accepted or even heard. It is likely to take many tries before someone gets a chance to listen to your demo. Keep in mind there is lot’s of competition out there and keep persevering. You will get the recognition you deserve!

If All Else Fails, Use A Music Submission Platform

An online music submission platform like One Submit can help you submit music to Spotify playlists, radio stations, TikTok channels, YouTube channels, music blogs, record companies, and upcoming Deezer and Apple music playlists.

You can sign up and create an advertising campaign on the One Submit platform and we’ll help you get your tracks heard by record companies in your music genre. After you submit your music, the manager will review your song, if the manager likes your song, they will add it to their playlist, channel or label.

We know the process of submitting a music demo to a record company can be difficult, but not impossible. If you carefully follow the aforementioned steps and consistently and diligently pursue a successful music career, chances are you will be rewarded for all your hard work.

Good luck from One Submit.