Pandora Predictions to Know: Lil Xan, Lyrica Anderson & Mahalia

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Lil Xan

The latest predictions for future Billboard 200 success, from music data analytic company Next Big Sound.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that in the world of streaming, the doors are open for previously unlikely artists to hit the top of the charts. Pre-streaming, Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” may not have gone on to become the massive hit it was, and rap newcomer Cardi B might have missed out on overtaking Taylor Swift for the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

That is to say, it’s anyone’s guess who could hit the charts next. But Next Big Sound, a music data analytics company owned by Pandora, is making some predictions anyway. 

Through two charts -- the Pandora Predictions Chart and the Pandora Trendsetters Chart – Next Big Sound aims to give a glimpse at the artists everyone will be talking about, say, six months down the road. The Predictions Chart uses a patented algorithm to predict the artists who are most likely to make their debut on the Billboard 200 in the next year. The Trendsetters Chart is a list of the up-and-coming artists who are seeing the highest number of artist station adds on Pandora over the past week, ruling out artists who are mainstream and above based on Next Big Sound’s Taxonomy of Artists. Charts are published on Fridays on Next Big Sound and Tuesdays on Billboard.

Here’s three artists who are likely to break, according to Next Big Sound. 

Lil Xan

With a drugged-out flow and an affinity for face tattoos reminiscent of Lil Peep, Lil Xan is the latest of a new class of young rappers to shake up the game without the support of a major label.  After building a ravenous fanbase on SoundCloud over the past year (97,000 followers at press time), the California native is starting to see more mainstream attention after the release of his latest single, “Betrayed,” in August. The chill, down-tempo track -- about his former addiction to Xanax -- was one of many Lil Xan tracks to be featured on Lyrical Lemonade, a rapidly growing blog that aims to highlight underground rap talent. But “Betrayed” marked his first track to be featured on Genius’ Verified series.

The “Betrayed” buzz has helped the Inland Empire native see a significant growth in listenership. On the Trendsetters Chart dated Nov. 4, the 21-year-old debuted at No. 4 after seeing over 8,500 artist station adds in one week on Pandora. Month on month, Xan has seen a 300 percent increase in artist station adds and a 630 percent uptick in track station adds.

Meanwhile, on social media, he’s increased his Twitter followers and Instagram followers by around 300 percent month-on-month, and on the latest Billboard Emerging Artists chart, the rapper debuts at No. 36.

Lyrica Anderson

Is it possible to go from reality TV star to music royalty? Ask Cardi B, the former star of Love & Hip Hop: New York who recently dethroned Taylor Swift for No. 1 on the Hot 100. But where Cardi B is all rap, Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood’s Lyrica Anderson is all R&B. And it seems she’s hoping for “Don’t Take It Personal” – the lead single off her latest album, Adia – to be her “Bodak Yellow” moment.

Released in August, “Don’t Take It Personal” has helped the Los Angeles native see over 12,000 artist station adds on Pandora -- up over 300 percent compared to the three months before it. In that same time, she’s added over 200,000 followers on Instagram -- by far her most popular social media platform – and has seen 18,000 visitors to her Wikipedia page. The drastic social media growth paved the way for a solid debut at No. 3 on the Predictions Chart.

As if her growth on social media and streaming wasn’t proof enough, Lyrica Anderson has another thing going for her: She’s not exactly new to the whole music thing. She was once a mentee of Timbaland, has performed background vocals for Jennifer Lopez and is the songwriter behind hits like Chris Brown's "Party." Oh, and did we mention her name is Lyrica?

Mahalia

English singer-songwriter Mahalia has been making a name for herself in her home country for a while now through a steady stream of well-received EPs, but it’s only recently that she’s started gaining traction in the U.S. It’s all thanks to “Hold On,” her new single about her first love, which features Compton rapper Buddy.

In one week alone, Mahalia added over 12,000 followers on Twitter (up 6,000 percent week-over-week) and nearly doubled her rate of artist station adds. Even more good news: Mahalia’s artist station adds are heavily outpacing station adds for “Hold On,” meaning this definitely doesn’t seem to be a case of a one-hit wonder.

Mahalia debuted on the Nov. 4-dated Predictions Chart at No. 12.