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Emerging Artists to Watch: Summer 2021

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Emerging Artists to Watch: Summer 2021

By Sorcha CollisterTMA’s Manager for Music Partnerships, UK

In today’s social media and streaming environment, it only takes one big song or pop culture moment for up-and-comers to become overnight sensations.

TMA Music has compiled the following recommendations of artists to watch based on data, dialogue with music industry partners, and signals from social media. Our goal is to provide you with a sneak peek of who is on the rise to spark new ideas and celebrate the joy of new music.

Here are some of the artists on our radar right now.

Arlo Parks

GENRE: Indie R&B, Soul

AGE: 20

KNOWN FOR: Parks’ first album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, was released in 2021 to much critical acclaim. It peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart and earned her a win for Best Breakthrough Artist and nominations for Album of the Year, Best New Artist and Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2021 Brit Awards.

LYRICAL THEMES: Intimate songs that tackle tough subjects – depression, sexuality, alcoholism, prejudice – with wisdom and tenderness.

MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, France, Germany, Australia

LISTEN TO: “Eugene”

Holly Humberstone

GENRE: Pop Rock

AGE: 21

KNOWN FOR: Humberstone rose to prominence supporting Lewis Capaldi on tour, and in the last year has amassed over 100 million streams, as well as coming in at #2 on BBC’s Sound of 2021. The Apple Music “up next” artist has also performed at Glastonbury and sold out her first four headline gigs at London’s Omeara theater this summer. Her 2021 UK-wide tour dates will be followed by single releases as well as an EP scheduled for this fall.

LYRICAL THEMES: “Real things that are going on in my life.”

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, Australia, Germany

LISTEN TO: “Haunted House”

Masego

GENRE: R&B

AGE: 27

KNOWN FOR: Masego’s viral hits have marked him as a name to watch throughout the music industry. He first gained widespread attention with his 2016, The Pink Polo EP with Medasin and Loose Thoughts Eps and then followed with the massive hit, “Tadow” a collaboration with FKJ that earned him over 235M Spotify listens, 5 million Tiny Desk concert views, and a Gold certification. He released his official debut albumLady Lady in 2018 and followed with Studying Abroad last year.

LYRICAL THEMES: Romance and the dynamics of the women in his life.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: US, UK, Netherlands

LISTEN TO: “Mystery Lady”

Tate McRae

GENRE: Alt Pop

AGE: 17

KNOWN FOR: McRae won over her peers by posting content to YouTube, including a recurring vlog segment called Create With Tate, which inspired the song ”One Day” in 2017. By 2019, the YouTube clip had gone viral with over 35 million views and McRae signed with RCA records, releasing her debut EP in early 2020. With the ascent of “You Broke Me First,” McRae has performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, been featured in Billboard, and highlighted in Forbes 30 Under 30.

LYRICAL THEMES: Growing pains including unhealthy relationship patterns and second-guessing romantic choices.

COUNTRY WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: US, UK Australia, Netherlands

LISTEN TO: “You Broke Me First”

Katranada

GENRE: Dance / Electronic

AGE: 28

KNOWN FOR: In 2019 he released Bubba and won two Grammy Awards including Best Dance/Electronic Album. At this year’s Grammys, he won Best Dance Recording for “10%”, along with Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best NewArtist. And indie favorite for several yeas, the recent Grammys have catapulted him to top billing on festivals around the world.

LYRICAL THEMES: He values the textures of words above their meanings with lyrics taking a back seat to lush sounds.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: US, UK, Australia

LISTEN TO: “You’re The One”

Tkay Maidza

GENRE: Pop Hip Hop

AGE: 24

KNOWN FOR: Originally signed to Universal Australia, Maidza recently switched to legendary indie 4AD and has played major festivals around the world and collaborated with everyone from French DJ Martin Solveig to fellow Australian pop star Troye Sivan. Her new label signing has provided her with wider artistic freedom helping her chart an exciting new path.

LYRICAL THEMES: inspired by personal circumstances, the title of her 2020 EP, Last Year Was Weird – Vol. 2 accurately reflects the political and social unease in the world.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: US, Australia

LISTEN TO: “You Sad”

Brent Faiyaz

GENRE: R&B Soul

AGE: 25

KNOWN FOR: Faiyaz was featured on the Grammy-nominated 2016 single “Crew” with fellow DC-area natives GoldLink and Shy Glizzy. In 2019 Faiyaz had two singles and features on albums from A$AP Ferg and the late Juice WRLD. He has since released five EPs, one of which was with his side project Sonder, and a studio album, 2017’s Sonder Son. Recent singles include, “Gravity,” with Tyler the Creator, and “Show U Off,” which he created for International Women’s Day. He also spent time modeling for Calvin Klein as part of a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free’s company, pgLang.

LYRICAL THEMES: His personal life.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: US, UK

LISTEN TO: “Show U Off”

Joel Corry

GENRE: Dance Electronic

AGE: 31

KNOWN FOR: Corry is a British DJ, producer and television personality. He came to prominence in 2019 with the release of his single “Sorry,” which reached number six in the UK Singles Chart. In 2020, Corry released the singles “Lonely” and “Head & Heart,” the latter features MNEK on vocals and spent six weeks at number one in the UK Singles Chart and cracked the US Billboard Hot 100.

LYRICAL THEMES: Party anthems

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, Netherlands, Australia

LISTEN TO: “Head & Heart”

Obongjayar

GENRE: Soul

AGE: 24

KNOWN FOR: Since his debut EP in 2016, Obongjayar has worked alongside artists like Giggs, Little Simz and Danny Brown, and was an integral part of Richard Russell’s Mercury Prize nominated album Everything Is Recorded with Kamasi Washington, Sampha and Ibeyi. His solo output is filled with inquisitive energy and a determination to find answers to life’s most difficult questions which are showcased in 2020’s acclaimed Which Way Is Forward? project.

LYRICAL THEMES: Stories of family and friendship; togetherness in the face of adversity, racism and alienation. Discovering the strength of your own convictions, and the power of your heritage.

COUNTRY WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, Germany, Australia

LISTEN TO: “Still Sun”

Nubya Garcia

GENRE: Jazz

AGE: 30

KNOWN FOR: Multi award-winning saxophonist, composer and DJ, Garcia has taken the UK Jazz scene by storm. The title track of her debut self-released EP When We Are was described as “effervescent” by the New York Times and named one of NPR’s Best Songs of 2018. Since then, she has toured extensively across Latin America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States. She has empowered her peers, her community, and has been a pioneer in bringing jazz music into the mainstream.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, Germany, France, Netherlands

LISTEN TO: “The Message Continues”

Rina Sawayama

GENRE: Indie, Pop

AGE: 30

KNOWN FOR: Rina Sawayama is a singer-songwriter, model, and actress based in London and born in Japan. In 2017, she self-released her debut extended play, Rina. Then in 2020, she released her debut studio album, Sawayama to widespread critical acclaim. Sawayama studied politics, psychology and sociology at Cambridge. She uses her big thinking to support causes she is passionate about, examples include: a collaboration with Taiwanese artist, John Yuyi, on a series critiquing Asian beauty standards; Reforming the Brits awards status on immigration; and penning letters to UK equality ministers on LGBTQIA+ conversion therapy.

LYRICAL THEMES: Big ideas such as capitalist culture to LGBTQIA+ causes.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, US, Australia

LISTEN TO: “LUCID”

Deb Never

GENRE: Pop, Rap

AGE: 27

KNOWN FOR: Having toured with Dominic Fike, you might have heard Never on Brockhampton’s new album Ginger, where she sings the gorgeous hook on “No Halo” or on Slowthai’s album Tyron where she performs on “Push.” She was also hand-picked to perform at The 1975’s now-postponed Finsbury Park gig in July 2021.

LYRICAL THEMES: Brutally honest truths.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, US, Australia

LISTEN TO: “Someone Else”

Priya Ragu

GENRE: R&B

AGE: 35

KNOWN FOR: Over the past two years Ragu’s career has exploded with support from Rolling Stone India, BBC Asian Network, and Vogue, leading her to being named one of the most hotly-tipped artists in 2021. While the music industry at large was faltering during the coronavirus pandemic, Ragu found herself securing a major label deal with Warner Records. She only had one main previous single, “Good Love 2.0”, yet it has already been remixed by Honey Dijon, Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, and Little Dragon.

LYRICAL THEMES: “Embracing your culture or background.”

COUNTRY WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: UK, France, Norway, Switzerland, India

LISTEN TO: “Chicken Lemon Rice”

Llane

GENRE: Pop Urban

AGE: 30

KNOWN FOR: After a 12-year run as one of Piso 21’s founding members, Llane officially kicked off his solo career in late 2019 and, despite the challenging global pandemic, continues marking his territory in the music industry with his popetón (pop and urban) beats and melodious voice.

COUNTRIES WITH MOST SPOTIFY LISTENS: Mexico, Pero, Columbia, Chile

LISTEN TO: “Presente Y Futuro”


Here’s a Spotify playlist with all of these up-and-coming artists and their songs to listen to. Listen on Apple Music here. Enjoy!

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