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Industry Talk: Henrik Haagensen

By Johanna Alem Posted: 10. Apr, 2018

Get to know Henrik Haagensen, the General Manager and A&R at Playground Music Norway.

Henrik got his industry start as a trainee at Playground Music in 2006, hired in 2007. 4,5 years later, he quit to start his own management and production company, working with artists OMVR and Dreamon. His tasks involved managing, writing and producing, touring and playing, as well as promoting standalone shows, club nights and events. In 2014 he returned to Playground Music and is now running the Norwegian branch of Playground Music, working with the international label-roster. Henrik is also the A&R at Playground Music Norway, working with the likes of Jakob Ogawa, Svømmebasseng, Charlotte Dos Santos, Unnveig Aas, Selmer, Mutual Intentions, Tik Records and other locally distributed labels.

What has been your focus lately?
Getting ready for the first 2018 releases from acts on our local roster. Where Q1 has been planning, Q2 is all about executing the plans which is always fun and always hectic. I’m very exited about our upcoming releases, but also a couple of new signings we are about to announce. We also have loads of brilliant international releases via our international label partners coming up.

The most important piece of advice you have ever received?
I guess it has to be the advice and encouragement my parents gave to me, boosting my confidence to pursue a career in music, in whatever way. I mean, it was pretty obvious that music meant a lot to me. I’ve had tons of fun ever since. I guess I worked out fine. High fives and hugs to my awesome parents!

Your best industry-tip?
Try to stay ahead of the curve. Be as flexible as you can in everything you do, and be open and willing to listen to advice from others (for example DIY-artists, they know a lot of cool new clever tricks). All projects are unique and all artists are people, so strive to really understand your projects, artists and people, and customize as much as you can. When you sign on to a project, make sure you have the time, dedication and passion to work it properly! My industry-tip to artists: Dare to be different and unique. Know what you are signing, with whom, and why. And again: time, dedication and passion from whomever you decide to work with always trumps ‘more money upfront’.

What’s your golden moment to share with the rest of us?
I hope the best ones are yet to come, but when I was 15, my mom bought me a pass and dropped me off at the Quart Festival in 2000, while at a summerhouse with the family in Kristiansand. At that time, an artist I’d never heard about before called D ’Angelo performed and my mind was blown away.

Also, the time Skepta cancelled less than 24 hours ahead of our biggest production to date, we (the fearless Ali Wali and me) confidently decided ”f*** it” we don’t need Skepta, selling out Sentrum Scene with Arif, Unge Ferrari, RMH, and the rest of Nora Collective. An epic night I will never forget, that gave me goosebumps. And the first time I heard my own music on the radio felt really good.

Why Norway, why now?
I don’t think there has ever been better prospects for Norwegian music makers and rights holders. We have a growing number of local artists turning global artists, both in the big and smaller scale. Also, the talent pool is incredible and almost seems infinite. We have a growing number of extremely talented songwriters and producers doing big things, and on top of that there’s important movements locally to professionalize important areas of business. Managers and agents are organizing (Neema), publishers are organizing and building momentum (Musikkforleggerene / Artic Rights).

We are getting more professional and organized in all realms of the business, in parts thanks to success stories and newfound confidence, our head start in a digital market place and the quick conversion to digital. We are really good at sharing knowledge and showcasing talent. Both business and artists really know how to make music and work music in a modern way. We know that the global market is growing, and emerging markets are opening up so we can spread our amazing music to even more people. I might be too positive here, I don’t know.

Who in the Norwegian music industry deserves a high five?
Easy! Jan Krogh, for giving me a chance back in 2006 at Playground Music. High five for giving me loads of responsibilities from day one, throwing me out on the deep-end, teaching, and backing me, and then finally passing me the torch. He’s a great friend and a great colleague. Jan Krogh!

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