In many ways, being an artist is harder now than it's ever been, and the path to music industry success is crowded with obstacles. Streaming services have taken note of this challenge however, and several of them have been working to put programs in place designed to help emerging artists succeed.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
It’s always been hard to be a music artist, but it might be more difficult today than at any other time in recent history. The reason is that the competition is so fierce because there are fewer natural gatekeepers than ever before. Artists, even those with a buzz, really need a powerful helping hand to have a real chance at rising to the next level. While there are many ways to get there, the streaming services are increasingly aware of the situation and are putting programs in place to help emerging artists. Here are 3 services that currently have 4 programs between them.
Founded in 2016, YouTube’s Foundry is a development program that helps with marketing, promotion, and trains artists in growing and engaging their audience on the platform.
You’d have to say the program has been successful since former program artists include Grammy winner Dua Lipa, ROSALÍA, Dave, CUCO, Gunna, Mahalia, Maleek Berry, Chloe x Halle, Jacob Collier, Rauw Alejandro, and Cavetown.
You don’t apply for this program, but are selected on the basis of your data and analytics from the platform, such as subscriber growth, watch time and interest in their videos. The selections per year seem to be limited to a dozen or less.
SoundCloud has a program call First on SoundCloud which started about a year ago. The program is designed to provide support across its apps, playlists, social feeds and newsletters, as well as social and out of home advertising. Creators that are selected will also be included in SoundCloud’s Premier monetization program, which offers revenue sharing and additional promotional resources.
Creators in the program’s first session include Kehlani, Galimatias, Taylor Bennett, Lorine Chia, Melo Makes Music, Party Pupils, Jay Prince, Cathedrals, starRo, and Witt Lowry.
This one’s a bit more open with submissions. Any creator has a chance to get involved by uploading an original track to SoundCloud and tagging it #SCFIRST.
Spotify’s RISE program provides artists with marketing and promotion on its playlists and editorial channels, as well as providing short documentary films and recording sessions. Basically the whole idea is to tell the story of the artist in a more complete way.
The program adds 4 new artists every few months for a total of 16 emerging artists per year. Here’s what the promo looks like for the latest batch of RISE artists. All artists are hand-picked (there’s no info on the criteria used for the picks) so there’s no submission process.
Just to make things more confusing, YouTube has its own program separate from YouTube Music called Artists On The Rise. It’s a monthly program that offers emerging artists promotion and programming, and social and fan events at YouTube Spaces. Once again, the artists are hand-picked, but according to its page on the subject, criteria include “view count and watch time growth, as well as how frequently videos are uploaded. Selections based on these metrics are then reviewed by YouTube systems and teams.” You can check out the ones that have made it into the program so far here.
Although it might not seem apparent, there’s a process for selection on each platform that requires growth on the service in order to be considered for selection. In the case of these emerging artist programs, there really is a gatekeeper.