One still hears people in the business referring to the A&R man. This is partly because the term rolls nicely off the tongue. Some maintain that the term man in this case is an abbreviation of the word manager. But also, in the past, A&R was regarded as a rather tough job, only for those who were prepared to dedicate themselves 100% to the record company and to the music. No social life, no regular office hours. In the male-dominated record business of the sixties and seventies it was therefore considered that women would neither stand for this nor be able to take the pressure. However, the eighties and nineties have seen an increasing number of A&R women succeed in the industry so today the blanket term A&R man is not just sexist but also inaccurate.
Record companies are in business to sell recorded music, and that music has to come from somewhere. A&R is the department within a record company which finds that music, its writers and performers and then decides whether or not the company should invest in them.
To carry out this work, an A&R person needs to be constantly networking—getting out there, meeting people, finding out what and who is in, what and who is out, which record companies are in search of what type of act and why. This is extraordinarily tough work. It involves going out most nights of most weeks to see and hear people playing in smoky clubs and pubs the length and breadth of the country and often further afield. It involves being cornered by managers, who might not be the