How to Become a Musical Talent Scout

By Rachel Miller
Musical talent scouts must always be on the lookout for promising artists.

A music talent scout, employed under the artist and repertoire (A & R) umbrella of a record label, is responsible for sourcing new talent, signing them to the label and nurturing them through the writing, recording and delivery of their albums. Scouts are required to keep their finger on the pulse of new trends and new artists in the music industry as they emerge, and recommend them to the label. They need an excellent understanding of the contemporary music scene and a good ear for the kind of music that will both suit and sell well on the label.

Read: Music scouts spend the majority of their time staying ahead of the ever-evolving music scene, so start reading trade papers, music magazines like NME and websites like Pitchfork and Spinner. As Tom Rowland, A & R scout for XL Recordings, told TheSite.org, "Blogs are one of the most useful resources as they're the rawest source of information -- you get it earliest and then it's up to [you] to filter what's good and what's not."

Listen: Be listening to music, constantly. Choose the record label that suits your musical taste the best and study the latest albums of the musicians that label has signed. Take particular notice of the newer artists and their musical trends -- i.e., are they instrumentally focused? Are they mostly singer-songwriters? Are they musically influenced by a particular era? The more music you listen to, the more comprehensive your knowledge of the music scene will be and the more qualified you will be to make informed predictions about future artists.

See: Live music is an important part of a music scout's life. Not all emerging artists will have recorded music (even if they do, it often sounds different live), and further, they may not have registered on the radar of the music blogs. Choose a few of your favorite local venues and go to at least 3 gigs a week. This will also provide you with the opportunity to network with musicians, managers and other scouts. When people start recognizing you at gigs, they'll know you're serious about being a scout and opportunities may arise.

Get noticed: Scouting is a competitive industry, so be bold and creative to stand out from the rest. Through your networking, persistently seek unpaid internships at record labels to gain as much experience as you can. While you're there, demonstrate that you are capable of consistently bringing new talent that would be suitable for the label to the attention of A&R managers. Also show them how involved you are in all aspects of the industry and take the initiative to go to gigs on your own and report the results to your superiors.

About the Author

Rachel Miller is an online and print journalist, copywriter and editor with more than five years of experience. She has written content for numerous online and print publications, including Sony Music Australia's website, bandit.fm and "Paws" magazine, a publication of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Miller holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Queensland in Australia.