The role of A&R can be a complex one when it comes to the development of emerging artists and songwriters. They are responsible for not only scouting new talent, but for the development, marketing, and promotion of the music as well. Though the internet has made the relationship between artist and consumer much more accessible, it doesn’t mean that artists are necessarily equipped to deal with the complexity of the music industry.
AWAL’s Eve Fairley-Chickwe says authenticity and self-awareness are key to succeeding. “It’s just so important when you go into a label or any publishing company or setup to know yourself and know who you want to be as an artist.” The A&R executive recently moved to AWAL from Kobalt Publishing, where she signed talent such as Koffee, Mahalia, and SerpentWithFeet. At AWAL, she is working with artists like Little Simz and Tamara.
On a new episode of our Co.Lab Sessions podcast, Fairley-Chickwe shares gems on how artists can make themselves memorable in the eyes of A&R personnel and why knowledge truly is power. Read on or listen to the episode for more of her advice.
Show a Creative Trait That Gives Fans a Closer Glimpse
“A bit of advice I would give to artists who are looking to make a stamp online and build their online presence is: outside of the music, maybe thinking of an element of them as an artist that they want to showcase and they’re excited about,” Fairley-Chickwe explains. This could include things like a song or production breakdown that could be shared on a social media platform. “Then make a little reel and put it [online],” she says. “That’s a great way also just to showcase creativity. It can be something very connected to the music or it could just be something that you like and that you’re a fan of. It’s always about doing something that feels natural to you.”
Timing Is Everything When You’re Connecting with A&R Reps
“Common mistakes that young, new, up-and-coming artists make when trying to get A&R attention… the main one would be the timing of it,” Fairley-Chickwe divulges. “It’s sometimes not the right time to be reaching out to A&Rs and trying to get signed.”
Instead, she circles back to authenticity and solidifying your base before trying to take that next step. “I think it’s really important to build some music, get a bit of a catalog together – even if it’s just four or five songs that you really love and you’re passionate about – before reaching out. You may need six more months or a year before figuring out who you want to be.”
Take Advantage of Resources Readily Available to You
“Listening to A&R-focused podcasts, going to networking events where there might be A&Rs and labels speaking at them, putting yourself out there in that way to be able to connect in person or online with A&Rs is the best way to do it,” Fairley-Chickwe asserts. Making a point to attend industry panels and establish those relationships shows initiative, but the executive advises to also make sure your music aligns with the right company. “If you’re thinking about a specific label, really identify why it’s that label. Who on the roster is in a similar world to you? Because then there’s bound to be A&Rs there who like your sound.”
Connecting with reps you want to work with doesn’t stop at events. Mentorship, Fairley-Chickwe shares, is another vital tool at an artist’s disposal. “If you’re an up-and-coming artist or producer, it’s important to connect with another artist or producer or songwriter who could potentially give you some advice on your career. Don’t be scared to reach out to someone and message them and ask for tips.”