How do A&R guys get paid? Talent Scout newbie seeks advice.
February 25, 2005 9:37 AM   Subscribe

How do A&R guys get paid? Talent Scout newbie seeks advice.

I have started doing A&R (in my free time) for a friend of mine who has started his own record label. So far we have some good leads and are close to signing our first artist. This is primarily a labor of love, as I enjoy being exposed to new music, and the label's owner is a good friend of mine. I know the odds are slim that anyone will get rich off of this venture, but what do I need to know to make sure I get a fair cut if anything I bring to the table takes off and makes it really big? I feel like creating an understanding or taking steps to guard my interests now may help preserve the friendship once (if) real money becomes part of the equation, but I'm not sure how this part of the industry usually works. Are there any good books or guides to this sort of thing? Do any MeFites have any relevant experience?
posted by mds35 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my (limited) experience, the record industry (the big boys, at least) deals in "points" -- percentage points on album sales, publishing deals, etc. Not sure if that's all the A&R guys get, but it seemed to play a big part.

I'd ask for a cut of profits on any act you bring in -- maybe 2.5% to 5%. It's not much if the band doesn't sell, but the upside is nice and big.

Whatever you decide upon, get it in writing, with both your and his signatures on the document. He may be a friend, but when it comes to money, you gotta watch your back.
posted by me3dia at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2005

Read The Problem With Music by Steve Albini.

No seriously, go read it.
posted by nitsuj at 9:54 AM on February 25, 2005

Yeah, forgot about that. Go read it.
posted by me3dia at 9:55 AM on February 25, 2005

If you really love new music, turn back now.
posted by Jairus at 11:44 AM on February 25, 2005

There really are no talent scouts anymore beyond the labour of love indie version. I wouldn't sweat it. It's the debt you have to worry about.

Honestly, if your friend ever makes any money (he almost certainly won't, but he might have a fun time) and if all you did was suggest the original act, you really haven't done much anyway.
posted by Leonard at 3:07 PM on February 25, 2005

For major labels, A&R is a staff position and they get paid a salary, not points.

If you and your friend want to work out something where you get a cut of whatever profits (or work out your own points deal), there's nothing established for that. More than likely all you will get is a free cd and on the guest list, if we're talking about an indie label.

If the band moves on to a major label, you really will get nothing unless you have some management deal or you (with the label) have contractual dibs on the band's future work and/or own a recording to be reissued by the major.

(feeling the need to take a cleansing bath)
posted by kongg at 8:37 AM on February 26, 2005

Thanks everybody. In the end, or at least up to now, I decided that if I can't do it for the love of music alone, then it's not worth doing. Also, I realize that if I don't trust my pal to take care of me when and if (a VERY iffy "if") things take off, then I'm already screwed. So for now I'm in it for the free cds, an occasional beer, and guest-list perks.

So far I'm having a bast.
posted by mds35 at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2005

posted by mds35 at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2005

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