Do you want to learn about artistic direction and/or booking?

A&R management, along with marketing management, is one of the most important areas in the music business, and possibly the most decisive in defining the identity of a record company or a music publisher. It is a function that is at the heart of the business and connects the creative world with the management world. In fact, artistic departments are also fundamental in the programming of venues, concert series and festivals.

Just as in the world of artist management there are five different roles, so too in the artistic area we can identify 3 different roles or positions depending on the organisation they work for.

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The role of a record label A&R is to identify and recruit talent for the label and, once in, to work with the artist on the development of the artistic project. Part of the development is to help them select the repertoire of songs to be released, which can be their own songs or songs by other authors. In a label that wants to build a powerful or recognisable brand, the A&R not only has to sign artists with good projection and possibilities of return, but those who also fit with the common denominator identifiable in that label.

The function of a publisher A&R is very similar to that of a record label A&R. The main difference lies in the fact that their aim is to attract songwriting talent, i.e. repertoire composers. However, it is true that these two roles are becoming more and more similar, especially because it is very common for an author to be both a performer of his or her repertoire, so the development work has many elements in common. Still, the mission of the publisher A&R is to promote the repertoire of its authors. Publishers can also build catalogues with common denominators, although this is less common because they tend to work in B2B (Business to Business), as opposed to B2C (Business to Consumer), as would be the approach of an imprint’s brand.

Although it is true that a booker is not an A&R in the strict sense of the word, as they do not maintain a continuous relationship with the artists and are not committed to their development, it is true that they are responsible for defining the programming of venues, cycles and festivals and, therefore, for giving artistic identity to each event or project. Another important similarity is that, just as an A&R does, they not only have to identify the talent, but also agree on the conditions of contracting.

What to study?

In this case, we definitely recommend you to study the Master’s in Music Business Management together with the Historical Analysis module. This means: Advanced Principles, Legal Aspects, Make It Happen, Professional Development, Internships and Historical Analysis.

However, if you do not speak Spanish, then we would recommend you the Postgraduate Diploma in Music Business Mindset together with Historical Analysis, which includes the following modules: Advanced Principles, Legal Aspects, Know-How, Professional Development, Internships and Historical Analysis.

And this means studying the following modules:

Advanced Principles

(5 ECTS | Active Online Learning)

This is an essential first module in which you will learn all the ways in which business can be generated around music and music brands (whether artists, labels, festivals or venues). You will understand all the figures (roles and organisations) that exist in the music industry, the music sector and the music universe. You will also understand how they interrelate with one another.

Legal Aspects

(5 ECTS | Active Online Learning)

For the signing or contracting of any artist, it is necessary to sign contracts. It is true that these contracts are usually drafted by lawyers, but in any of these positions the negotiator of these contracts will be you. And the content of the clauses will be decided by you. Therefore, it is key to understand how they work and what their main aspects are.

Historical Analysis

(5 ECTS | Active Online Learning)

To be able to perform well in any of these roles, you not only need to understand how the music business works, but also to know a lot about music. Either because of the diversity of music genres or because you understand how they have influenced each other. By doing this you will be able to establish connections between social phenomena and musical genres, but also understand how the evolution of the business and technology have conditioned and continue to condition the emergence of certain musical genres and styles.

Make It Happen

(45 ECTS | Learning by Doing / In Person in Barcelona or Madrid)

This module begins with a competition in which more than 300 artists from Barcelona and the surrounding area take part. Among these artists and others that you may know, you will have to choose 1 artist to defend in front of the rest of your peers and an artistic committee. Depending on the potential of your selection and how well you are able to defend your decision in front of the others, you will have more or less chances of your artist winning. There will be one winner for every 5 students. If you win, it will be a good indication that you “have the makings” to be A&R or Booker. Then, this artist or any other winner has to be helped to choose a song to be recorded and released (the latter is especially relevant for publisher A&R). But you must also help the artist to make the best decisions on how to produce and record it. And then give advice on the creation of audio-visual and promotional materials for the release, which will help in the creation of an artistic brand. Up to this point, the functions are very similar to those of an A&R. In contrast, Stage 5 of this module is key to the functions of the Booker, as the Booker is the first recipient of all the documentation that will be developed here (technical rider, hospitality rider, portfolio, cache and show format). And then at the IMB Festival, if you wanted to put your bookers hat on, you can see the potential that all the winning artists had for the live show, you can see the drawing power that they had and if those present really enjoyed it. For any of these roles, you will gain a lot of insight into whether an artist works or not. And you will realise that sometimes appearances can be deceiving. 

Professional Development

(5 ECTS | Learning by Doing Online)

One of the main challenges of any professional in the world of music is to know who they are, where they are, where they want to go and how to do so. If you have taken the Make It Happen module, we will help you to better focus on your professional goals and the strategy to achieve them.

This is our recommendation, but at IMB School there are many other programmes that can meet your exact training needs in the music business.

The important thing is that you can choose a training that is really useful and feasible for you, and that allows you to get closer to your professional goals in the best possible way.

If you wish, you can make your own combinations of modules. Contact us so that we can advise you.



Music Marketing


Artist Management


Independent Artist / DIY


Concert Organisation


Top Management Role