YouTube long ago supplanted MTV as one of the main places that didn’t just break new artists, but helped define how music both sounded and looked.
Like many traditional media outlets, MTV was famously slow to adapt to the internet. And while it’s still around and has a purpose, its influence isn’t what it was 20 years ago. It now has to share space with YouTube, Spotify, Tik-Tok, Twitter and dozens of other internet avenues in terms of music discovery.
YouTube Has Taken An Active Role In Developing New Artists
Every digital outlet has its own function in spreading the word about upcoming artists.
Twitter and what remains of the ‘00s music blog explosion (such as Stereogum and Pitchfork), new outlets like The Ringer and stalwarts such as Rolling Stone and Spin can still serve to both create buzz around new artists, and for music writers and dedicated fans to contextualize them.
Tik-Tok can help put both emerging artists and veterans in front of younger audiences that otherwise might seek them out, which is why we have the current phenomenon on Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” recharting and the indie band Vundabar breaking out on the song “Alien Blues.” (That song was released in 2015 but went viral on TikTok earlier this year.)
But YouTube (which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet (GOOGL) – Get Alphabet Inc. Report) offers something no other service quite does, a place to stumble upon an artist’s visual representation of their entire aesthetic in one easy spot.
Maybe you got there to check out the buzz, or maybe you’re accidentally exposed to them after you finish watching a video by one of your favorites, or you caught a late night performance after watching the latest Closer Look segment on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
In 2015, YouTube began taking a more active role in nurturing new talent by launching Foundry. An incubator for independent music, Foundry offers artist development classes, partner strategy support, marketing promotion, and seed funding, which can be used for new music or new videos.
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Foundry has supported 250 independent artists (many of which, such as Dua Lipa, have gone onto major label careers). Their alumni include success stories such as Arlo Parks, beabadoobee, girl in red, Gunna, Japanese Breakfast, Kenny Beats, Natanael Cano, Omar Apollo, Rema, Rina Sawayama, ROSALÍA, Saba and Snail Mail.
No matter what sort of music you like, if you still go scoping for new sounds there’s likely something that Foundry supported that you like.
In particular the indie artist Japanese Breakfast is one of Foundry’s greatest success stories, as songwriter Michelle Zauner has become a crossover star thanks to the success of her third album “Jubilee” and memoir “Crying in H Mart,” which will be adapted into a film. But before that, Zauner directed or co-directed striking videos such as the clip for “Everybody Wants To Love You,” which stood out on YouTube and helped set the stage for her mainstream breakthrough.
The Foundry Class of 2022 Is Here
Foundry has announced this year’s class, a group of 30 artists spanning countries from around the world, and genres from soul to afropop to vibey hip-hop to folky indie rock. No matter what you like, there’s something for you, and anyone with a working internet connection can root around to see what catches their attention.
The company made the latest announcement via a YouTube video, of course.
YouTube Artist Partnerships Lead Naomi Zeichner told Variety that, “It’s no small task to be an artist in 2022, working to find stability, fulfillment, and fans who get it. Foundry celebrates the courage of independent artists and the communities that surround them. Our global team is lucky to be their champion and reduce barriers on their journey, every step of the way.”
Foundry’s Class of 2022.