Behind The Scenes of a Record Label with an A&R Manager at Armada Music and Head of Armada Trice

We talk to an A&R Manager at Armada Music to get a better understanding of what it's like to work for a record label
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We talk to an A&R Manager at Armada Music to get a better understanding of what it's like to work for a record label

Armada Music, co-founded by Armin Van Buuren in 2003, has been one of the biggest suppliers of dance music since it's inception. But not too long ago Armada Music started a fresh new label called Armada Trice that diversified and broadened their musical output. It's moves like this that have propelled dance music into the spotlight.

Magnetic got the opportunity to chat with an A&R Manager for Armada Music, which is one of the most important positions for a record label. If you aren't familiar with the term "A&R", it means Artists and Repertoire. Essentially, they are the talent scout for the label and responsible for signing all the music. There is a lot more to it then just that, but A&R executives are very important people to know if you're looking to have your music land on a label. Whether you are a manager, artist, or have aspirations of running your own label, there plenty of info here for you to find the right path.

Onno van Kemenade, an A&R Manager at Armada Music shares valuable insight into what it takes to work behind the scenes of a label, as well as the specific things labels look for when signing new music. He provides us with valuable information for anyone looking to get involved in the music industry. 

Give me a little background as to how you ended up at Armada. What was your first industry job? How did you come to get the position?

I was listening to electronic music from a young age, spending all of my spare time looking for new artists and music and getting to know everything there was to know about these records. My first industry job was at Armada as an A&R Assistant and throughout the years, I worked my way up to the position of A&R Manager and became responsible for the progressive house signings. Now, I’m working on the Armada Trice label and Zouk Recordings (amongst others). I’m also doing label management for Michael Woods label ‘Diffused', Orjan Nilsen’s ‘In My Opinion’, W&W’s ‘Mainstage Music’, Max Vangeli’s ‘NoFace Records’, Jerome Isma-Ae’s ‘Jee Productions’, and Swanky Tunes’s ‘Showland Records’. And of course, I’m with working with established artists such as Dash Berlin and a lot of new talents, including Vigel.

What are some of your day to day responsibilities with Armada?

It’s a lot. Contacting the artists to see what they are working on, scheduling the records and making sure that the release schedule is updated. I also working on release plans while listening to a lot of music and finding new artists and releases.

How would you describe the style and vision of Armada Trice?

Armada Trice is all about melodic Progressive House tracks in the broadest sense. Releases can be bigroom tracks, but also more progressive club tracks or vocal radio songs. As long as it’s quality progressive house, it fits!

For producers out there sending in their demos via emails, what are some tips you would give them on professionally sending in their track to an A&R Executive or demo emails?

The best advice I could impart is to keep the email short. Give a short introduction about yourself (age, country, previous releases) and send the music via a SoundCloud link. Just be sure to send your best track.

When you look for new music to sign what are some key elements and factors you are looking for, aside from it being a great track obviously?

When we like a track, we always ask if the producer has more tracks so we can check if he’s able to produce more solid tracks. Apart from that, it’s about the music and the demo being an original. Try to produce something that is unique and doesn’t sound like any other tune.

For individuals trying to be a manager, agent, or A&R like yourself, what qualities are important to have?  

Be a music addict. A&R is led by the heart, not by the head. You have to live and breathe music 24/7; it’s a job you can only do well with passion.

What artists would you like to see release on the label that have not?

I really like the productions of artists such as Zedd, Jay Hardway, and Julian Jordan.

What are some sites or apps that you use to listen/ find new tracks?

SoundCloud is the best. Next to that, Beatport and Spotify are also great ways to discover new music.

Give me one positive experience you had since being a part of the Armada label.

There are too many! To me, Armada is the best label in the world. They give their employees the room and freedom to grow and make their own choices. While we work extremely hard, our office is very nice and has just been redecorated with a club inside the building for great in-house events. Some unforgettable moments have taken place there such as release parties, listening sessions and showcases for albums but also for presentations. Also, our celebratory trip to Ibiza (celebrating 10 years of Armada) was fantastic. Having the whole company together in Ibiza for four days to celebrate was insane!

Do you and the team have any big plans this year as far as projects and releases?

You bet. We have a lot of exciting new records coming up from Trice regulars and new talents. Fresh, new music coming up from Arston, Lush & Simon, Dash Berlin, Vigel and Manse, just to name a few. Make sure to keep an eye on the Armada Trice Spotify playlist as well.

Onno's Top 5 Favorite Releases on Armada Trice:

Send in your demos to Armada Trice at: demo@armadamusic.nl

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