Strawberry Tongue is excited to talk to Scott Simon-Haus from Diversion Records. Based out of the Chicago area, this up and coming label has a unique approach to artist selection.
STR: What got you interested in starting Diversion Records?
Scott: Originally it started as a way to release projects that I was involved with as an engineer, producer, or musician. After the first couple of releases I began getting approached by other artists that were interested in releasing their work. From that point onward I decided to really make a go of building a label. I found in it an incredibly rewarding process. Helping other artists in their development and providing resources for their art to reach a wider audience, and seeing the joy that brought to them was immensely satisfying. The third year in we started openly taking submission, working with music submission portals, actively scouting, and getting referrals from other independent international labels – which further grew Diversion Records.
STR: How did you develop the company? Everything from the name to choosing artists, etc.
Scott: Initially I just needed a name for a publishing entity. I didn’t think the name mattered much and somehow came up with Dissonant Diversion… not sure where is came up with but it embodied the spirit of doing music that tended be harder to categorize and a bit experimental. Initially I used that name for the label aspect as well, but I started to feel it was too heady or wordy so I shortened it to just Diversion Records. The publishing arm is still called Dissonant Diversion.
STR: How long did it take to get your first artist and get established?
Scott: The first couple artists are what started the label, Vissuda and Chris J Connolly. From there it expanded from the hub of those artists, meeting others in the Chicago and New York scenes and online (which at the time was mainly Soundcloud). At that time MySpace was dead but Spotify was just starting out. Soundcloud also had Groups then, which in my opinion was an easier method for music discovery on that platform. The first few years of the label only focused on a couple releases with large gaps in between. It wasn’t until I moved beyond our first few artists and made a concerted effort to scout and sign that things became more established – which I would say was about three years after our initial release.
STR: Why do you feel it is important to represent artist and give them a chance?
Scott: A lot of creative types don’t always have the business management skills or experience to know how to plan and market themselves and/or don’t know the technical side to ensure that they are working with a quality producer, engineer, or studio. Coming from a background of business management, marketing, music, and production… I found that there was almost always some aspect I could help in an artist’s development, either by working with them personally or putting them in touch with the right people.
STR: How do you put your personal music taste aside and decide what makes a great band and/or song?
Scott: That’s a great question! Putting aside personal tastes can be difficult but honestly, I still need to like the music or appreciate their talent to want to take them on. There are certain styles of music, that while very popular and lucrative, I just can’t get behind. Besides the music itself there are many other factors we look at – their work ethic, personality, and fan base. No matter how talented you are, if you are not willing to put the work in and make good decisions, or entrust qualified people to make them for you – you wont go very far.
STR: How much has Diversion evolved? What do . you have planned for its future?
Scott: Diversion Records has grown from putting out about three releases in two years to about 10 per year now. In addition to the initial core services of distribution and promotion we have added publishing and sync resources and re-launched our YouTube presence. Last year (2018) we signed a deal with The Orchard to be our exclusive distributor which added additional resources and reach. Going forward we plan to ad more established artists and be more present in the west coast scene.
STR: How many artists do you have?
Scott: Currently we have sixteen artists on our roster and are in active talks to add about three to five more by the end of 2019.
STR: How would you describe any commonalities between the artists on the Diversion Records roster? I know you describe your style as “genre fluid”.
Scott: I feel that the value and perceived quality of music is relative to listener and critical reception is more about what is fashionable or relatable to a specific demographic or culture at the moment, which is not always linked to musicianship or creativity. Any genre or style can have value… so I don’t want to limit the genres we support too narrowly. Ultimately though our “genre fluid” tag line refers more to idea that we prefer to work with artists that don’t pander to a specific genre and work between styles and experiment.
STR: If there was any artist – living or dead – that you could represent on the label. Who would it be and why?
Scott: Prince – because he was my inspiration to become a musician and from when I have heard we have/had similar workflows… also I am not family.
Discover Diversion Records roster of artists at their website.