A&R is sort of part of the music industry that remains behind the mystery of some Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak to the creatives in the room. Artists want to know what it is A&Rs are looking for in their artists, and A&Rs want to find something special, struggling to articulate what that is. The trouble is… all the copycats and assholes really muddy the waters in the market. 😉
But here’s the good news: there are more female A&Rs at the table in major label offices making these decisions than ever before. We got the chance to talk to one of these movers and shakers and pick her brain. Since December 2019, Pam Charbit is currently working as an A&R at Warner Music Group and is the founder and A&R lead at ON THE MOVE. At On the Move, She’s the brain that onceptualized the brand and curate the monthly content of the magazine that now has 70 thousands monthly readers and is focused on up and coming musical artists.
Check out our Q&A with Pam below, in full:
GGM: Just a quick glance at your LinkedIn, and it feels really obvious that you’ve done a lot of interesting (and often entrepreneurial) jobs to land you in the position you hold today. Can you tell us a bit about how you got from graduating high school to where you are now?
PC: “After graduating high school, I knew I wanted to be in music but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I started a pretty intense studying in a law program where I learned French, British and American laws. I only lasted a year, and after I dropped out I went into communication and marketing. I knew I had to create opportunities for myself and I always had an entrepreneurial mindset, which is part of what inspired me to start “On The Move“, a music blog. The blog’s goal was to give a platform to up-and-coming-artists. At the same time, I started an internship in a music PR company and another one in a different media company. The website started blowing up in France, I quickly started expanding it to producing live shows with up and coming artists. After graduating college, I knew that in order to follow my dreams, I had to move to America. I’m originally from Paris and the industry is much smaller and very different there. I had the opportunity to work at Virgin Radio in Paris, where I was conducting multiple interviews for the radio, while my team and I at the magazine translated our website into English so more people abroad would be able to understand our content. After moving to America I had to go to UCLA to study the Music Business program while continuing my work with the magazine. At the same time, I tried to find internships here but couldn’t really locate exactly what I wanted. After UCLA, I got a job working for Beats 1 – Apple Music’s radio station – and worked there for a year before I got offered my current job at Warner.”
GGM: What drew you to being an A&R? How did you know that was the right role for you? & if you could summarize your goal/job as an A&R in one sentence, what would it be?
PC: “I’ve always wanted to help artists achieve their visions and nurture their talent. I love working with different types of creatives, whether it’s artists, songwriters, producers, engineers… and to me it was a no-brainer from day 1 that this was the way for me to do just that. I knew that A&R would be perfect for me because the unsigned artists that I was writing about at the time were getting signed and blowing up off of songs that had discovered before they became hits. I knew I had an eye for spotting talent early.
My goal as A&R is to help artists I believe in make records that will change lives. Music is so important to people and unites them in a way that nothing else can. Being able to play a small part in the soundtrack of some people’s lives would be amazing. When I look at the artists who played a huge part in my life and are behind some of my greatest memories: Green Day, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, The Script, Adele, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson… I tell myself that one day, I’ll also be a part of an artist’s story that will inspire people the way those artists have inspired me.”
GGM: I know you are presently an A&R at WMG, but I also saw you founded an org. called On the Move World. I’d love to hear more about that?
PC: “On The Move is the website I mentioned earlier that is also now a magazine in English. I have two teams, one that’s located in Paris and one that’s located in here in LA. (Shout out to my amazing teams!). We cover so much, from writing pieces on artists that we love, to crafting album reviews, live reviews, and interviews with photoshoots.. As I spoke about earlier, the mission of the magazine is to give artists that we love a platform. In 2014, we even organized one concert in Paris with new artists from London and the cool part was that we did it 100% independently, no sponsors or brand partners. Thanks to the fans and my amazing team, we sold the show out using nothing more than word-of-mouth.”
GGM: What tips do you have for people trying to get into the music business industry?
PC: “Be a good person. I’m only half joking when I say this but it’s really important. There are too many scammers in the industry, and people who only seem to treat you with respect when they feel like they have something that they can gain from you.
My biggest tips would be to network as much as possible and never overlook or underestimate people. Someone you disrespect today can be your boss tomorrow or can be the next star artist. Networking is the #1 most important aspect of this industry, but don’t try to network only with people who have already made it. I think participating in “horizontal networking” is super important – meeting and collaborating with people who are on or close to your current level, or just people who you believe in.”
GGM: What’s your biggest pet peeve within the industry?
PC: “People who talk too much, do nothing, and pretend that they’re the sh*t. So many people who make promises that they can’t (or don’t even try to) keep.”
GGM: What type of music are you looking for right now at WMG?
PC: “I am on the global A&R team which is basically not directly affiliated to a specific record label under the WMG umbrella, but instead we work across all labels and all genres.
It’s pretty cool because it allows us to work on different amazing projects and with amazing artists, so we’re really able to simply look for great music, regardless of genre.”
GGM: What’s your single piece of advice for independent musicians right now?
PC: “I often hear artists saying “I want to be the next Ed Sheeran”, or “My goal is to make songs like Bruno Mars”, or “What should my band do to sound like Coldplay?” What people don’t understand is that the world doesn’t need another Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars or Coldplay. We already have them and we love their original music! If those artists told themselves “I am gonna be the next x” they would never have made it. Get inspirations from other artists, learn the techniques that others are using to craft your unique sound, but don’t try to copy anyone exactly. Copycats are boring.”
Pam’s Girl Gang Music Picks
“I love Killboy because she sings, produces, writes and mixes her own music. She learned everything by herself and it’s so refreshing to see this, especially as a woman. She has three songs out for now. You should check out “WHEREDAFUCC”.”
Royal And The Serpent
“I was introduced to Royal’s music by a friend last year when she released “Weddings & Funerals” and I couldn’t stop listening to her songs. Her energy on stage is incredible and she brings something different to the pop-alt music world. I think she has a bright future ahead of her.”
“I discovered Sinead Harnett in 2016 when she released “If You Let Me” and I think she’s amazing. I lover her voice, her lyrics, everything. If you’re a fan of R&B, you’ll love her.”
If you enjoyed this interview, you can keep up with Pam here: