The A&R Report had the pleasure of engaging with Aton Ben Horin discussing his position at WMG, as well as current projects and tips for aspiring A&R’s looking to get into the music business.
Aton, you’ve recently been promoted to Director of Global A&R at Warner Music Group. Tell us about your role?
I’m blessed to have a very unique situation at WMG. Firstly, I’m doing A&R for all the labels in the Warner Music Group system (Atlantic Records, Warner Bros, Parlophone, etc). I’m also communicating and providing support Globally to the A&R’s in all the international Warner territories, and their projects. Mike Caren (Worldwide President of A&R, WMG) and I work collectively on this.
What artists are you working with right now?
At the moment I’m working on Icona Pop, Flo Rida, Jason Derulo, Wiz Khalifa, Alex Hepburn, Alex Newell, and a new artist named Brandyn Burnette.
So tell us about your daily activities as Global A&R for Warner Music Group?
My office is in the Atlantic Studios building (Hollywood,CA), which is great because it keeps me close to the music. We have 6 studios here now, which allow for 10 to 12 sessions between day&night. I spend my time either in the studio with writers/artists/producers, or listening to music people submit via email. I receive about 100 tracks&songs per day, so the emails and listening alone can be very time consuming. But it’s crucial..taking the time to stop and listen to people’s music is the most important part of my day. There’s a lot of talent out there and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.
Seems like you have a very multi-faceted role over at Warner. Tell us what you enjoy most about A&R?
I am a true fan of music at the end of the day and there’s nothing I enjoy more than finding a hit song, or a new artist I’m excited about.
On the executive side, has there been any one you’ve looked up to as far as a mentor?
Mike Caren has been a great mentor, he’s one of the best in the business.
Warner prides itself in hiring incredible staff in order to put out the best music possible in the market. What do you feel are the characteristics needed for someone to join WMG on the professional side?
You have to have a good sensibility for what’s a hit song, and what’s not. Being a good communicator is also important, because you have to deal with many different personality types (artist,producers,attorneys,
How do you feel about the current state of the industry now that it’s digitally driven?
The marketplace is constantly evolving and it’s an exciting time. There are many new ways for artists to generate revenue and they can now reach new fans quicker than ever.
Do you feel like the fact that there are so many different ways for an artist to sell their music that it may lessen the consumer experience?
I definitely believe the consumer is affected by the amount of volume being pushed out into the market place, but it sets the bar higher for artists and songs. Good is not enough these days, it has to be Great.
With shortened budgets, and less opportunities for employment at a major label. Do you have any tips for an aspiring music professional looking to make an impact in the music industry?
There is not ‘one path’ to becoming an A&R, or working at a label. I did many different things over the years which gave me knowledge, first hand experience, and relationships (was an artist, producer/writer, studio owner, artist manager, and more). Many people start as interns or assistants and work their way up. If you stop and think about it: Everyone, to a certain degree, is an A&R. You can always be looking to find the next great artist or song and pass it on to the right person. The quickest way to get people’s attention is to find something great.