One might reasonably wonder what the criteria might be for an Up Next artist, considering that 6lack has been signed to LVRN/Interscope since August and his current single “PRBLMS" as of today has close to 18 million views. In truth, however, Apple Music has been working with 6lack for much longer.
Just over a year ago, when 6lack was only signed to LVRN ,he caught the attention of Carly Chery Apple Music's head of artist curation who brought him to Interscope's attention, who quickly signed him. Interscope has spent the last eight month building early momentum at radio, press, touring alongside LVRN who they now have a joint venture with.
In an interview with Billboard from December, Apple Music's head of artist curation Carl Chery explained how he first came to work with the artist. "6lack was an artist that had absolutely no following," Chery said. "I may be extreme in saying that, but nobody knew who he was. And within his first week, "PRBLMS" got a million streams. That's a metric. Within the first week, a guy that no one had heard about had the No. 3 song on the R&B charts in the [iTunes] Store, he sold 10,000 copies independently. And then, he was the No. 6 streaming song on the chart. This was back in May."
"I was reaching out to all these people," Chery continued, "like [Republic's] Charlie Walk or [Atlantic's] Dallas Martin or whoever, and saying, 'Have you heard of this guy? I've never seen a song move that fast on Apple Music.' And everyone's reaction was the same: "Who is this guy? I've never heard of him, but this song is fire." When I started with 6lack, I put it on one playlist called Mood -- the playlist started with Rihanna's "Needed Me" and then right after that you had 6lack's "PRBLMS," it was the second song. And two days later I was looking at the charts and all of a sudden I see "PRBLMS," it was like No. 69 or something. That was an indicator: if it's just doing that off one playlist, what happens if I put my whole weight behind it?"
Chery rightly called it early when he concluded that, "6lack is gonna turn into a much bigger story."