Major Labels A&R
If you are new to the music industry, you might have the false impression that if you want your demo tape to be heard, you send it to the producer of a major label. This is not the case. In the world of film and theatre, the producer is the one who holds the purse strings. In the world of music, the producer is the one who sits in the studio with the artist and actually produces the album. Therefore, if you are hoping to get a record deal, you need to send your demo to major labels A&R.
A&R stands for artist and repertoire. These are the people who listen to all the demo tapes and filter out the one that they think are promising enough to have other people listen to at the label. They listen to literally hundreds, if not thousands of demos each week. Therefore, as you create you demo to send it off to major labels A&R, you need to remember that your demo needs that special something to make it stand out from the thousands of other tracks the A&R reps have heard that week.
Within major labels, A&R is a department, rather than a single person. The first level in this department is simply going to demo CDs and weeding out the ones that look and sound completely unprofessional as well as the genres that don’t fit in with the style of the label. For instance, if you sent a classical demo to Def Jam Records, it would be weeded out at the first level, no matter how talented a musician you are.
Later on the higher ups of the major labels A&R will listen to your demo and may call you in for an interview. Only if you make it past A&R will you have a chance of actually getting signed to a major label.