Atlantic Records A&R Interview Questions

Want to get into a heated music industry argument? Just ask a few industry folks from different eras about the modern process of A&R.

For some, A&R — which stands for “artists and repertoire” and is the title applied to individuals responsible for scouting and developing music talent — is still among the most critical elements in the industry. Others argue that the “art” of A&R is essentially dormant, replaced instead by people scouring technology platforms to see which songs and artists are already performing well on platforms like TikTok and Spotify.

We figured the best way to get to the bottom of it was talk with somebody right in the thick of modern A&R. So, meet Kelly Sayer.

Hi there! My name is Jenny and I am the HR/Talent Acquisition Intern for Warner Music Group this spring semester. I am currently a senior at CUNY Baruch College majoring in Human Resources Management and double minoring in Communication Studies and IT & Social Responsibility. I have always been passionate about music since elementary school,… Continue reading About Me: Jenny Ng →

As a college student, it may be tricky to display your professional side on LinkedIn. According to a study by Microsoft, about 85% of employees say that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions for the group and the company. Professionals and recruiters are constantly browsing through LinkedIn pages, so it is highly important… Continue reading Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn →

I went from being a drummer and listening to music everyday, to wanting to be part of the process that would lead to the creation of my favorite albums, songs and videos.

Whether youre in the application process or already rocking it out at your internship, informational interviews should be locked and loaded in your internship toolbox. These tips will catapult you from a novice to an informational interview all-star.

A&R is one of the most sought-after, competitive internships to acquire at any record label–no matter how big or small, whether big-name or indie. So, what does it take to successfully get an A&R internship, and then be successful as an A&R intern?

Waiting In The Rain With A Resume

While some people kind of “fall into” A&R after stints in other areas in the industry, Sayer realized fairly early after moving to Los Angeles that she wanted to work in the field.

“I absolutely went looking for [Atlantic],” Sayer says. “I literally stood in the rain outside the Atlantic Studios in Hollywood with my résumé. That’s not how I got the job so I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that (laughs).”

Sayer says working with songwriters and artists as an engineer made her want to help them make connections and grow, but she didn’t really know what an A&R was at the time. And then when friends in the industry explained what it meant, “I was like wait that’s exactly the job I want to have.,” she says. “So I ended up working in publishing for a little while at a recording studio where I was engineering and learning A&R. So my foot in the door was, ‘Oh, I’ll be your head engineer, I’ll run your studios, but let me learn the A&R process.”

Eventually she met the Atlantic team through that work, and she was able to directly email her résumé instead of trying to recreate a movie scene outside their offices. “That was a much more seamless and effective process,” she laughs.

The Importance Of Being Well-Rounded

Now, Sayer uses her experience as an engineer and producer to make working with artists like GAYLE even more streamlined. She’s still in Pro Tools every day.

“Often times just because it’s quicker to do something myself, I’ll go ahead and do it and send it to the artist for their thoughts,” Sayer says. “Like for example, if I’m like, ‘Hey I think this song should be a couple BPM faster,’ instead of having to explain to them why, I just send them the bounce that I sped up. Or like, ‘This section should be moved to later in the song, here you go, check it out, I edited it together.”

She says being that hands-on (which is not typical of a lot of A&R) has had a lot of benefits for the artists. Sayer can easily change the key of the song a few times for the artist to try out, and when they pick the one they like, she can send it on to the producer and save valuable time.

Being able to show rather than tell helps avoid some of the dreaded feedback loops. “Having a lot of friends who are songwriters and producers, I’ve definitely heard some funny and hard stories from them about other A&Rs not being able to communicate notes,” Sayer says. “But I’ve been fortunate to learn from a lot of great people at Atlantic. Everybody’s process is different, and this process is working for me.”

Atlantic Records A&R – Chris Martignago interview

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