A&R Reps on who they'll sign, who they won't

A&R Reps: Who They'll Sign--Who They Won't


Evan Peters, Director of A&R
Submissions: via industry professional
(e.g. manager, publicist, lawyer, etc.)

Evan Peters has been an A&R executive for almost 15 years. For the past three years, he’s been the Director of A&R at Capitol Records working with Bastille, Rise Against, Catfish And The Bottlemen, and Seinabo Sey. During his prior tenure at Interscope/Geffen Records he worked with gold and platinum artists, including Nelly Furtado, Weezer, Papa Roach and Lifehouse. Peters also worked as a producer with the Bangles, Alt-Nation Regulars, Knox Hamilton, and many more.

How did you get into A&R?
I started at the bottom and earned my stripes. I learned the craft during an exciting era at Interscope/Geffen Records. I had mentors who gave me a safe environment to learn. It was a real PHD in record making. Now, I’m able to apply those skills at Capitol Records, which has become an A&R Powerhouse. Culturally every company is different, but at Capitol I’m free to work across genres, innately trusted to make records, and supported when I see an artist I want to sign.

What style of music do you like?
I’m a student of contemporary music and enjoy all genres. I especially like the fact that many artists are blending styles. But mostly I like music that has the potential for mainstream success–the potential to sell records.

What qualities do you look for in artists?
I look for artists with a unique identity, a signature sound and a voice that has something to say. Personally, I prefer boundary pushers who have a fresh way of presenting their music and message. What I don’t like are copycats.

How much research do you do on artists?
Today we’re very data driven. If I like what I hear, I do online research. I look for transactional things, like audience reaction and fan engagement. Social media numbers don’t necessarily impress me––engagement is much more important. But, a lot of artists aren’t great at that. They tend to use social media as a promotional tool.

Do you develop acts?
That’s hard to answer. I have, in the past, but not lately. There’s so much nuance involved it really depends on the act, what they need and how much time we have.

What would motivate you to sign an artist?
Besides strong songs and talent–I love stories. If they have an interesting story and have already achieved results, that gets my attention. If they have a good team, press, radio, touring experience and fans, I’ll take a real close look. But just being talented, like having a great voice, isn’t enough. You need more than that for a record deal.

What kind of deals do you offer?
We’re creative, but every situation is different, and leverage definitely plays a role. In the music industry today, record labels are the last bastions of financial investment. Given that, and the decline in traditional recording revenue, I think it’s only fair that a label has a chance to participate across an artist’s non-record businesses and share income.

What’s your signing process?
It depends on how competitive the situation is. When I’m all-in, I’m all-in. I try to make sure that artists and their representatives know what I’m offering. I also want to know if they’re team players. If they’re excited about what my label has to offer, that moves things along quicker.

How can artists contact you?
At Capitol we prefer to be contacted by industry professionals. Someone who knows me would be best. •

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