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Talent search: Sony Music starts apprenticeship as music manager A&R

Alexander Popov, Unsplash

“Do you dream of signing the next over-talent? Everyone wants to hear your playlists? Creative, communicative, empathetic and always ahead of current trends? Then we’re looking for you. ”Sony Music addresses these words to the music managers of tomorrow: The company is looking for talent for the booming and important heart of the music industry, A&R: Artists & Repertoire.

Music brings us through life – and through crises. Musicians are the heart of the business. And dependent on people who recognize and manage their talent. Sony Music GSA is training these music managers, also known as “A&R Managers”, in a specially launched program, the “A&R Academy”. Two trainees will complete the 12-month music manager training course from June onwards.

A&R stands for Artists & Repertoire: that part of the music business that deals with musical trends, their usability, with marketing, promotion, the development and support of artists.

The job: searching for undiscovered talent and building it up

They search for undiscovered musical talents, pitch new artists, sign them, build them up. The managers view demo tapes and plan the network of their artists together with Sony Music.

Industry needs good minds. Because businesses have picked up speed thanks to digitization. As a result of the booming audio streaming, the income from sales of sound carriers and revenues from the streaming business climbed to 1.79 billion euros in 2020, the Federal Association of the Music Industry (BVMI) announced on Thursday in Berlin. Almost three quarters of sales (71.5 percent) came from online music usage.

In the 12-month paid training program, the trainees learn the A&R trade full-time alongside experienced Sony Music employees and managers. The program has already started successfully in France and Russia. There were thousands of applicants.

“We want to ensure that an unconventional industry like music brings unconventional, different-thinking and diverse people on board,” says Martin Staudigl, Vice President HR at Sony Music Entertainment GSA. The goal is not only more diversity in their own workforce, but also in the range of artists. In recent years, the activities in music management have changed a lot due to digitization. “The speed at which music is produced has increased enormously – and with it the challenge of discovering new artistic talents.”

Martin Staudigl, Vice President HR at Sony Music GSA.

Martin Staudigl, Vice President HR at Sony Music GSA.

Sony Music GSA

“What was on your headphones yesterday will most people not discover until tomorrow?”

Anyone who wants to be able to do that needs one thing above all else: a sense of musical trends and those who set them. Sony describes what music-loving trainees should have as follows: “You know everything and hear everything. You understand why others will hear your discovery too. What was on your headphones yesterday, most will not discover until tomorrow. ”The people wanted should also be interested in the music business, be able to interact with people and use social media intensively – including Soundcloud, YouTube and TikTok.

“The scouting of new talent has almost exclusively shifted to the digital space,” says Staudigl. “A&R managers are also social media and data experts and have very good social and communication skills. In our opinion, this does not require a five-year course of study, but builds on a talent for communication, marketing and a flair for music trends that is perfected over time through practical experience. “

In the A&R Academy, trainees learn this in the well-known Sony Music labels: Columbia, RCA & Ariola, Four Musik or Epic. They track down their management skills, refine them and already actively sift through talent (scouting). You work with new artists and learn to build them and their music.

Later permanent employment is planned

The training elements of the A&R Academy include development workshops, mentoring by experienced managers from various labels, joint meetings and creative sessions with employees and departments of Sony Music. In addition, tailor-made internal and external trainings and participation in listening sessions with artists are planned. A permanent position for the trainees is planned at a later date.

The plan is not only to gain an insight into the A&R world, but also “into adjacent functions and the interaction of competent, creative teams,” says Patrick Mushatsi-Kareba, CEO of Sony Music GSA. “We are very proud of this unique program and look forward to welcoming the two trainees to us soon.”

Requirements for applicants: “We don’t want CV”

So that the talent of the applicant is in the foreground and not the person, Sony Music does without the usual things in the application process: CVs, cover letters, certificates. Instead, interested parties can upload an anonymous 2-minute video here. This should not show you yourself, but your motivation for the application. The application deadline is March 31, 2021.

Creative managers are essential for the music industry in a crisis. “The industry is one of the fastest growing branches of the economy, is highly digital and plays a major role in Europe,” says Florian Drücke, head of the BVMI.

Thousands of musicians suffer as artists from the slump in the live music business. The consequences of the concert cancellations are not foreseeable, so Drücke.

“In Germany, unfortunately, there is still a lack of insight into the realities of the cultural and creative industries and how money is made with creative content,” says Drücke. For example, creative people and their partners would not participate to the necessary extent in the sales of user upload platforms such as YouTube. His proposal: a special copyright regulation for Germany. Everyone would benefit from this – including the artists, who are represented by capable A&R managers in the industry.

with material from dpa

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