Warner Music Group Global VP of A&R Aton Ben-Horin gave our members direct feedback and offered constructive tips on how to write hits at NARIP’s SOLD OUT A&R Pitch Session this week. And having A&R-ed and guided hits for Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Flo Rida, Jason Derulo, John Legend and others, he knows how to do this better than most.
“Send me whatever you want,” he told NARIP members, “but know that you will be judged by what you send. If your music isn’t great, I will delegate your future emails to someone else.” He strongly advises sending only your very best.
After all, “when you send me material, you’re competing with the very best writers and producers in the world,” he added.
A&R is the single most important investment decision a record company makes because it triggers every other decision by that company. This and the fact that over 25,000 songs are uploaded to streaming services every day makes this one of the most fiercely competitive areas of an already highly competitive industry. With his background as a touring musician, DJ and studio owner, Aton view from many sides makes him uniquely well-equipped to succeed in this fray, to recognize potential and shape it into songs people will want to listen to over and over again.
Telling our group not to over think their writing, Aton gave us the benefit of his years of experience in the hit-making business. Even the best and most successful songwriters in the world can benefit from the objective professional advice of someone like Aton. How much greater will any talent be when it has proper guidance? This is key in the music and hit-making process. Lennon and McCartney, as great as they were on their own, were made exponentially better at the hands of George Martin. We all need that.
Here are just a few take-aways from NARIP’s A&R Pitch Session with Aton:
- The #1 thing I listen for is the hook, verses can be changed.
- The hook (chorus) should come no later than :45 seconds into the song.
- When you focus on writing better hooks you increase the odds of nailing something, so critique yourself.
- Your marketing can be amazing, but you can’t force people to listen.
- Know your strengths and find collaborators. When you collaborate, you get better.
- Don’t over think it, even the very best writers don’t write hits all the time.
- To be clear, it saves me the work if you send hits, but it’s easier to get an instrumental used and placed if you’re a producer.
- It’s best to shoot for mid-tempo to up-tempo songs (ballads are a much harder sell).
- It’s better to end a writing session with 3 new incomplete ideas than 1 finished song.
Thank you for making time for our session Aton!
Full session video available to stream soon on demand for NARIP Members at NARIP.com.
Photo (L-R Top): Dan Dunn, Maja Slopiecka, Arash Haile AKA Shammy Dee, Mark O. Bottom Row: Mitch Baker, Joelle sahara Ferrando, Tess Taylor, Aton Ben-Horin, Lamont Clemons
@NARIP #NARIPSessions @Aton @AtonBH
About Aton Ben-Horin
Aton Ben-Horin is an American music executive and record producer. He serves as Global Vice President of A&R for all of Warner Music Group’s labels, including Atlantic Records and Warner Bros.
Aton began his career as a musician and songwriter in a touring rock band, sharing the stage with acts such as Simple Plan, Jimmy Eat World, and Nine Inch Nails. He then ventured into the dance music scene and began producing and DJing at nationwide venues, radio stations, and major festivals such as Ultra Music Festival. In August 2007 Aton opened Plush Recording Studios, which has developed into one of the premier Florida recording studios, with clients such as Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown. Through his production and songwriting team, The Agency, Aton has produced and licensed a catalog of songs with the likes of John Legend, Rick Ross, Ciara, Flo Rida and others. His path soon led him to A&R. In 2012, Aton began doing A&R at Warner Music Group, under Mike Caren (Creative Officer, Warner Music Group & CEO, Artist Partners Group).
Since joining Warner Music Group, Aton has delivered hit singles for Jason Derulo, Flo Rida, David Guetta, and others. Recent successes include Flo Rida’s ‘My House’, Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty,’ ‘Wiggle,’ and ‘Say Goodbye.’ David Guetta’s ‘Hey Mama’ (featuring Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha), “Bad,” and “Like I Do.” Sofia Reyes “1, 2, 3,” Cardi B “Ring”(feat. Kehlani), and many others. Aton has also discovered and signed various artists to WMG, including Alec Benjamin, Bhad Bhabie, Justin Quiles, and others.