Following the release of Lifestyle Asia’s documentary on Gareth Tong’s November Rain concert, we take a deeper look into how an artist like Gareth Tong gets signed on to Warner Music Asia and how the group helped develop him into the artist he is today.
Lifestyle Asia is excited to present a behind-the-scenes look at the local music industry in partnership with Warner Music Asia. For the first episode of our collaboration, we dig deep into what an A&R division does.
What is an A&R?
Artist and Repertoire, or A&R, is a division in a label that handles the whole process of working with an artist. From scouting talent and signing, first meeting the creatives, to actual input on the music, an A&R is essential to fostering the development of a successful artist.
“A&R are there to champion our artists, constantly striving to propel their careers to new heights,” says David Stouck, Vice President of the A&R division of Warner Music Asia.
David works closely with Kaona Cheung, Nicholas Cheung and Pansy Lam as part of the A&R team of Warner Music Asia.
Part of being an A&R is being able to sign talented artists. “A&Rs are only as good as their last signing,” says Nicholas ‘Big Spoon’ Cheung.
As an A&R, it’s essential to have the passion and ear to really find these talented artists. “You must love music and need to have a passion to understand the different types of music out there,” says Pansy.
The A&R team at Warner Music Asia are able to differentiate what types of music resonate with the audience and can move the needle for pushing the music scene in Hong Kong.
One of these characters who pushes the needle is our 002 cover star, Gareth Tong.
First hand experience
United by their love of music, the A&R team at Warner Music Asia are actually mostly artists themselves.
Being an artist and getting that first hand experience is crucial in understanding the dynamic between the label and the artist. This allows the A&R team to act as a liaison between the two, ensuring that the artist can get what they need to grow.
Kaona feels that her experience as an artist “enables [her] to be able to play a mentor kind of role”.
Beyond the business
At the end of the day, the music industry is a business. But without music, there is no business.
For a lot on the A&R team, it goes beyond just a job. They have to be a real fan of the artist’s music and really live for it. Big Spoon describes it as being “married to the game”.
In a similar vein, Valentina Ploy, Warner Music Asia’s artist in Thailand, recalls having open conversations that “go way beyond the songs that [have to be released]. And it goes [into] the core of why [they’re] making music”.
An artist’s music can only take them so far. Without a solid foundation for support, they may not be able to reach their full potential. Warner Asia’s artists not only have a lot of respect for the A&R team, but also depend on them for their guidance, support and mentorship. However, even with the right A&R team, an artist still needs to reach the masses. In our next episode, we take a closer look at how the Marketing team at Warner Music Asia works to support their artists.
Watch the full video below: