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Leslie Dweck
Leslie Dweck

Trying to sum up Leslie Dweck’s experience in the music industry in a few pages is a nearly impossible task, but it’s safe to say that over the past decade Dweck has been retained in nearly every aspect of the music business, working alongside the most legendary artists, labels and record executives. “It’s hard to explain how an Orthodox Yeshiva girl from Brooklyn ended up crashing her way into the music business,” Dweck says with a laugh, “it’s been an incredible trip.”

After graduating with a degree in communications (NYU) and audio engineering (IAR), Dweck’s first job out of college was answering the phone and duplicating cassette tapes for minimum wage in a voiceover studio in Midtown Manhattan run by two eccentric older men who carried guns to work every day. Although this wasn’t a glamorous gig, it was through this job that Dweck met Lenny Kaye (Suzanne Vega, the Patti Smith Band) and Carl Glanville (U2, Madonna). She subsequently quit her tape duplication job to become their assistant engineer, working her very first album project.

Next, Dweck set her sights on working at a record label. “Universal Music Group was looking for someone to work part-time in the computer department,” she recalls. “I had zero computer background so I bought a ‘For Dummies’ book to learn as much as I could about computers, went to the interview and got the job. It turned out, being a business analyst required more social skills than computer savvy.” It was through this job, analyzing the way each department worked, that Leslie got to know every employee at the various labels under the Universal umbrella and eventually met Lyor Cohen, then-Chairman of Island Def Jam.

“Lyor and I would always see each other in the hall and smile,” Dweck recalls. “Finally one day we were in the elevator together and he said: ‘I always see you around the label but I have no idea what you do.’ Two minutes later we were in his office, and the next thing I knew I was his assistant.” The first thing Dweck did at Island Def Jam Records was buy Cohen and the rest of the label the very first iPod. She also began a file-sharing system outside the executive office much to the chagrin of Universal corporate. "It needed to be done so that the label could understand the changing landscape of the business,” she says. Dweck also got the entire music industry off the 2way and onto the now-ubiquitous BlackBerry, saving her label group millions.

When Cohen moved from Island Def Jam to Atlantic Records, Dweck joined him and was the first person from his new team to arrive at the Warner Music Group offices. Cohen immediately promoted Dweck to Executive Director To The Chairman WMG and then to Senior Director Of A&R Operations at Atlantic Records. Working alongside Cohen for several years at two different label groups, Dweck was a part of several great releases including: Bon Jovi, Melissa Etheridge, Jay-Z, Shania Twain, The Killers, Green Day, Kid Rock, Phil Collins and Tracy Chapman.

While working as an executive in A&R at Atlantic, Dweck formed a strong bond with Ken Rockwood, owner of the Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. With the blessings of Craig Kallman, CEO of Atlantic Records, the duo started a new imprint label through Atlantic called Rockwood Music Hall Records. In addition to her duties as A&R executive at Atlantic proper, Rockwood named Dweck President of the imprint label and together they signed new artist Chelsea Lee.

Dweck has worked with established and developing artists like Ryan Star, Wynter Gordon, James Blunt, Hope, Sarah McLachlan, DMC, Christian TV and Jason Mraz. She has logged thousands of hours in the studio alongside A-list producers such as Trevor Horn, Matt Serletic, Howard Benson and Mikal Blue, earning several co-production, co-mixing and co-writing credits. Additionally, Dweck’s developing artists have written with Kara DioGuradi, will.i.am and Cee Lo Green and have toured and appeared with Bon Jovi, Seal, Alicia Keys, the script and Rob Thomas. Finally, if you’ve ever heard music on shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance or enjoyed a musical bed during Wimbledon or the Super Bowl, there’s a good chance that one of Dweck‘s artists was behind it.

“I’ve always considered myself to be a very artist-centric A&R person,” she explains. “I know our job is supposed to be very critical and discerning but instinctively I always find myself rooting for every artist that comes into my office. I appreciate that, a lot like life, art is a work in progress. Each day I get to meet great artists and writers in varying stages of development and I just always find myself wanting to help them to get to the next level.” In that spirit Dweck decided that in addition to her regular consulting work with the labels she would start a new project with Onreé Gill, longtime Music Director of Alicia Keys, called Unleashed Music Ventures, in order to provide developing artists with the expertise that the two of them have picked up over their years as tastemakers and industry professionals.

“Fortunately, I’ve spent my entire career working with a lot of incredibly talented writers, producers managers and lawyers. I've seen how hard it is for an artist to get a major label deal, to record an album and to launch a career. I think it makes sense for me to help the artists directly with all the amazing resources I've been building throughout the years.”

“I'd like to be a conduit” Dweck summarizes, adding that Unleashed Music Ventures will help artists with everything from writing and production to musical direction and live performance. “I’m constantly looking for new ways to expand and share my knowledge with aspiring musicians as well as established acts. I'm grateful to be able to do it.”