Interview with Peter Hart, A&R Manager Universal Music

After a tip-off from a friend that Universal Music was looking to recruit music people with IT skills, Peter Hart started working for Universal Music Sweden in the late 1990s, specifically as A&R manager in the pop genre from 2003. He is linked with an impressive list of successful Swedish artists, including: Emilia, Carola, Lars Winnerbäck, Urban Cone, Daniel Adams-Ray and Tove Lo. A&R stands for ‘artists and repertoire’ and is the lifeblood of a label, being the people responsible for sourcing and signing new talent.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned working in A&R?
I’ve learned how important it is to trust your gut instinct. Even though we all have different tastes in music and different ways of listening to a song: for some people it’s all about the melody and that special hook, while others pay close attention to the lyrics. In the end it’s up to you to go with what you believe in and stand by your decision.

What do you think about the development of the music industry and digital distribution?
I would say that the digital revolution, after a couple of shaky years (…Pirate Bay etc) has had an enormously positive effect. It’s become so much easier to get information about artists online and to get a better picture of them, than after only listening to a demo track. Nowadays it’s also easier to release singles, distribute music and find more ways to promote artists.

Who are your idols/influences?
Since my job requires me to listen to music from a different standpoint, it’s hard to say who my idols are today, but when I was younger I used to listen to U2, The Clash and The Waterboys.

How many artists are you currently working with?
At the moment I’m working with: Tove Lo, Lars Winnerbäck, Daniel Adams-Ray, Urban Cone, Tomas Ledin, Faråker and State Of Drama. The number I’m working with at any given point varies depending on the length of each artist’s campaign, when they release new material, and their involvement in different active projects.

If you were to give our Spinnup artists some advice, what would it be?
It always helps when the artist has a vision and has put some thought into how to present themselves, both in their appearance and the delivery of their music. Having your own unique style of expression doesn’t mean that you have to be the world’s greatest singer, and if you hit a false note, sing it with 100% conviction and be proud of what you’re doing! And don’t give up!