40 Under 40: Aaron Bay-Schuck, Atlantic Records


Senior VP Of A&R, Atlantic Records


It can take a long time to sign an artist. Even if the artist in question is Bruno Mars. Aaron Bay-Schuck, 31, who signed Mars to Atlantic four years ago, met him in 2005, “but it wasn’t until 2009 that the label saw the vision,” he says. That vision, and Bay-Schuck’s persistence, paid off big time. Mars’ second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, had sold 1.5 million copies since its December 2012 release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and rose to the top spot 11 weeks later. “From the outside world, it looked like it happened quickly, but it really is an artist development success story in every way,” Bay-Schuck says. “A&R at its best is about nurturing, and not dictating, who someone should be.” A writer himself, Bay-Schuck is credited on Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” which has sold more than 5.5 million downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Bay-Schuck, who was promoted to senior VP of A&R in September, has orchestrated successes for CeeLo’s “F**k You,” Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” and Plies featuring T-Pain’s “Shawty,” and has signed Fueled by Ramen’s act Sublime With Rome, plus Francesco Yates, Trevor Jackson and, most recently, singer/songwriter Max Frost. A college grad recently asked Bay-Schuck whether A&R is a dying art. “In fact, it’s more important than ever,” he recounts. “There’s so much out there . . . What makes a great A&R person is knowing the difference between very good—which there’s a lot of—and great.”