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Chartbreaker: How Rosa Linn Scored a Global Smash After Hitting an Emotional Low

todayDecember 6, 2022

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Three years ago, Rosa Linn was writing songs in her free time and dreaming of a career in music. But she never expected a performance at a local village festival in her native Armenia would be her ticket to stardom.

Her standout delivery of an original rock song, backed by her band of friends, floored talent scouts in the crowd from record label Nvak Collective. Soon after, the team invited her to attend the company’s upcoming songwriting camp for women. “We really recognize the fact that talent is equally distributed — but opportunity isn’t,” says Tamar Kaprelian, Nvak Collective co-founder and Rosa Linn’s manager since last July, when the rising singer-songwriter also signed to the label.

Kaprelian says that while Rosa Linn was more introverted than the other songwriters at the camp, her personality beamed through the lyrics she wrote independently after songwriting lessons. When Rosa Linn returned to class one day, she presented the first verse of a folksy pop song about hopelessly ruminating over a romantic interest. That early draft became “Snap,” the global crossover hit that has catapulted her career and led to her first Billboard No. 1.

Inspired by her “first real love” in 2017 during her time as an exchange student in the United States, Rosa Linn returned home to Armenia feeling hung up. “I wrote about my readjustment process and mental state,” the 22-year-old says. “It was a very hard period for me. It’s just about life, and I think that’s why people relate to it.” Adds Kaprelian: “She came in with those deep lyrics, and I was like, ‘There’s something special here.’ ”

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Over the next two-and-a-half years Rosa Linn fleshed out the rest of the song ahead of its official release this March. She says that the final product is “very close” to the original demo, and includes vocals she cut in a hotel room, as well as her own guitar playing, “even though I’m not the greatest guitar player. That’s why the song has a vulnerable feeling. It’s honest and not perfect.”

Kaprelian sent the track to local radio stations, but was determined to get the song noticed on a larger level, eventually submitting it as an applicant to represent Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. Rosa Linn was ultimately chosen for the televised music competition this May (besting a finalist entry submitted by one of her friends), where she performed “Snap” to 161 million people across Europe. She placed 20th.

“We really saw it as a steppingstone,” Kaprelian reflects. “When she didn’t rank well, we could have been like, ‘We tried. Let’s move on to another song.’ Instead, we decided to double down on ‘Snap’ and I know that it might not have seemed smart, but we really went hard in the TikTok strategy.”

Rosa Linn, Tamar Kaprelian
Rosa Linn (left) and Tamar Kaprelian photographed on November 11, 2022 in Malibu, Calif.

Turns out it was the smartest thing they could have done. Rosa Linn began “experimenting” with different videos on the platform, including acoustic performances, remixes and POV-style clips showing the behind-the-scenes action at Eurovision. And after a fan-made, sped-up version of the track was uploaded to TikTok, “Snap” began to go viral.

More than one million videos were uploaded to the platform using the quicker, pitched-up version of “Snap,” with users showing everything from favorite recipes to sweet moments with their pets, as well as participating in a wholesome trend in which people highlighted the “color palette” of their hair, skin and eyes. Its popularity on TikTok pushed “Snap” up the Billboard charts, leading to its Billboard Hot 100 debut at No. 97 on the Sept. 3-dated chart. It has since reached a No. 82 high and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on Adult Alternative Airplay. “After [seeing the song do well], that’s when I knew it was real,” Rosa Linn says. “‘Snap’ gave me the best and most productive year of my life.”

It also led to a major-label deal with Columbia Records, which Rosa Linn signed in August. The label has already set the artist up with top songwriters and producers, including a recent session in Los Angeles with Diane Warren and Dan Wilson. In late October, she released her follow-up single “WDIA (Would Do It Again)” with fellow Eurovision star Duncan Laurence — and then capped the month with her late-night television debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Rosa Linn is now in the process of curating her sound to represent her artistry, with hopes of releasing a debut studio album. “I’m very picky,” she says, noting she has no timeline in mind for her full-length. “I wrote a lot of songs in the past three years, but none of them got released because [then] I would write another and it was better. This period is me growing as a songwriter and trying to improve.”

“I’m always going to stay personal and honest,” she continues. “My music is a representation of what I’ve gone through. Coming from Armenia and now living my dream is unbelievable.”

Rosa Linn
Rosa Linn photographed on November 11, 2022 in Malibu, Calif.

A version of this story will appear in the Dec. 10, 2022, issue of Billboard.

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todayDecember 6, 2022

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