In the vast world of music, where talent rises and evolves, Solveig Deason stands out as a guiding light for emerging artists. The modern music industry, driven by digital dynamics and fierce competition, requires more than just a good melody. It’s a blend of strategy, foresight, and the knack to spot the next big thing. This is where Solveig’s story finds its rhythm.
Solveig’s journey in the music industry is marked by achievements that many aspire to. As the Marketing Manager for the Women Musicians Network (WMN), Solveig was a driving force for inclusivity and empowerment of women musicians, both at Berklee and beyond. Her dedication led to the success of the WMN 2019 showcase, celebrated for its musical diversity and exceptional quality.
Her talent for spotting potential and promoting emerging artists was further evident during her time as Vice President and Head of Social Media for the Berklee A&R Group. Under her guidance, the group’s online presence skyrocketed. Names like Tiny Habits, Noah In The Open, G Lune, and Aiida were scouted early on by Solveig and placed in various opportunities led by the A&R Group. These artists went on to do incredible work, such as Noah In The Open, whose recent hit “Dial Drunk” with Noah Kahan debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, or Tiny Habits, who recently opened for Gracie Abrams!
Solveig’s skill in pitching ideas and connecting Berklee’s rising stars with established names in the music world showcases her exceptional A&R talent. At just 20 years old, she facilitated her first signing after pitching an artist to a label she was interning for. She also made strides at Warner Chappell Nashville and Sony Music Canada, elevating new artists’ potential and shaping their creative journeys.
One of her standout achievements was her collaboration with acclaimed artist Laufey. As her Tour Manager, Solveig coordinated North American tours, ensuring Laufey’s presence on stages across the continent. She also displayed her creative side as the musical arranger for Laufey’s songbook for the album “Everything I Know About Love.”
In an exclusive interview with Solveig Deason, we explored her remarkable contributions to Talent Development and A&R. Her experiences at global music powerhouses like Warner Chappell Nashville, Sony Music Canada, and Handmade Records highlight her innate ability to discover and nurture talent. The artists she unearthed, the careers she propelled, and the success stories she authored truly showcase her exceptional expertise in the industry.
Solveig Deason’s journey in the music world is far from over. As she continues to shape the futures of emerging artists, we can expect many more success stories written by her.
We’re so excited to learn more about your work, Solveig! First off, can you share some of your most memorable moments working in A&R at Warner Chappell Nashville, Sony Music Canada, and Handmade Records?
For me, the most memorable parts so far have been the incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to work with! At both Warner and Sony, the A&R teams were extremely warm, welcoming, and intentional about creating a healthy and happy working environment. With Sony Music Canada being based in Toronto and Warner Chappell in Nashville, I also found it really interesting to scout artists and explore the music scene in different cities! From Canadian rap and R&B to southern country rock, I found my positions at Sony and Warner to drastically expand my music taste, as well as techniques for finding new music.
My current role at Handmade Records has been an absolute blast. We are a Los Angeles-based indie label with an emphasis on early artist development. We started the label from scratch, and being able to witness every building block was a great learning curve! Our team consists of passionate creatives, all with a musical past, which makes the A&R process especially productive and enjoyable.
That’s great! What do you believe sets you apart from others when it comes to scouting and nurturing new talent in the music industry?
I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada with a very musical family. Being a musician was more of an expectation than an option, so at the age of 3, my Mother asked me, “What instrument are you going to play?” Shortly after, I started the violin. I was surrounded by music constantly, and eventually attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where I encountered countless artists with immense talent.
In college, I was able to befriend and work hands-on with so many incredible musicians, which allowed me to understand the musical process from an artists’ perspective. A lot of A&R’s aren’t musicians themselves, so having a musical background and a built-in community of artistic friends has really helped me understand scouting and artist development from an equal plane, rather than an authoritative one.
Can you share a story about a time when you discovered an artist who went on to achieve significant success? What were the early signs that led you to believe in their potential?
One of my favorite groups at the moment is Tiny Habits, a trio consisting of Cinya Khan, Maya Rae, and Judah Mayowa. Shortly after they came together and formed Tiny Habits, I placed them in an A&R showcase in Boston. They had just started posting videos on TikTok and Instagram, featuring reworked 2000s covers and original songs. They’re absolutely phenomenal, and I believe this showcase was their first live show ever! The room was packed, and their performance was so heartfelt and touching that many people were in tears. It’s been such a joy to watch their artistry flourish, and they’ve gone on to do such amazing things. Most recently, they opened for Gracie Abrams, another fav of mine! They’re so, so special, and I’m so excited to see what they do next!
It’s really easy to find a “good” artist, but it’s much harder to find a “great” artist. For me, I know in my gut when I’ve found something really special. I’m the type of person where if I hear a song I love, I’ll put it on repeat until I’m absolutely sick of it. This is super rare and definitely my biggest challenge.
From your experience, what are some of the most important factors to consider when evaluating a potential new artist for development?
It’s really important to put a lot of emphasis on the idea of longevity. This means considering a whole lot more than merely one viral song. A lot of labels tend to grab artists after they’ve had 5 minutes of success and just tag along for the ride. I’m much more interested in analyzing the full picture when it comes to an artist and considering if time and time again, they can create incredible music that will have a meaningful impact!
Can you talk about how the landscape of A&R has changed since you first started, and how you have adapted to these changes?
Social media is constantly evolving, which can definitely be a great thing for scouting new artists! I’ve found countless people this way. However, it also means that the playing field is much larger and so many people have the immediate ability to put their work out into the world instantaneously. This can make the really special artists harder to find. I’ve found that it’s all in the way you approach things. For example, training your algorithm is a great way to find particular genres or artists of a particular size.
You’ve been nothing but an inspiring light to many. How has your education and background informed your approach to scouting and developing new talent?
While at Berklee, I helped lead the A&R Group as their Vice President and Head of Social Media. Being part of this group had an immense impact on my understanding of A&R and artist development. We frequently met with A&Rs from major labels and publishers to pitch artists, and we also put on showcases, networking events, and Q&As with industry professionals. The group does a wonderful job of finding the best underground artists and elevating their artistic careers!
Lastly, how do you maintain a balance between business needs and artistic integrity when developing new talent? Can you share any examples where this balance was crucial to an artist’s success?
My biggest priority when working with artists is to develop their musical careers on their own terms. Today, there is so much more awareness and conversation regarding labels striking bad deals with artists, so it’s so absolutely crucial to put the artist at the forefront of all decisions. Of course, there are times when an artists’ vision doesn’t perfectly align with business needs. In that case, we play it by ear, always making sure the artist is happy and in charge of their sound and vision.