On the Verge: The Most Promising Artists from Billboard's Real-Time Charts Hit SXSW

SXSW is an ideal stage for emerging artists to capture the music industry's attention. Since the Billboard + Twitter Realtime charts first launched in May 2014, Billboard has seen a number of these budding acts first begin to break online on our Real-time Emerging Artists chart. Now some of these acts, many of which we've highlighted in our Emerging Picks of the Week series, are taking their careers to the next level by performing this year's SXSW, many of them for the first time.

Here's a hand-picked list of some of the most noteworthy acts poised to break through at this year's SXSW, and where they'll be performing during the week.


Sets:      Wed. March 18 at 11:45 PM – 12:10 AM (Empire Garage)
              Fri. March 20 at 12:00 AM – 12:40 AM (Monster Energy Outbreak House)
              Sat. March 21 at 11:15 PM – 12:05 AM (Bungalow)

Toronto trio BADBADNOTGOOD is no stranger to music festivals. In 2012, the group served as Coachella's band-in-residence and performed backup for Frank Ocean's sets. The trio, though, pins much of their success on Tyler, the Creator, after the Odd Future rapper tweeted footage of them performing. Group member Matthew Tavares told The Village Voice that Tyler's tweet "was the most amazing thing that really helped us out." BadBadNotGood has sent seven tracks onto the real-time Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart, with two – "Gunshowers" and "Ray Gun" (featuring Ghostface Killah & DOOM) climbing all the way to No. 1.

BJ the Chicago Kid

Sets:      Thurs. March 19 at 8:00 PM – 8: 40 PM (The Gatsby)
              Fri. March 20 at 1:10 AM – 1:30 AM (Highland)
              DATE TBA at 9:45 PM – 10:05 PM (Blackheart)

Motown signee BJ the Chicago Kid revives the R&B and soul traditions of the label's heyday, and his efforts have earned critical recognition. The singer was nominated for this year's Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with Schoolboy Q for "Studio," which cracked the top 10 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. On the real-time Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart, BJ has scored three No. 1 hits. While the R&B crooner preps his Motown debut album, he's maintained an active profile by cutting tracks with Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Joey Bada$$.

Dej Loaf

Sets:      Tues. March 17 at 11:20 PM – 11:40 PM (Blackheart)
              Thurs. March 19 at 12:00 AM – 12:30 AM (Tap Room at The Market)
              Sat. March 21 at 10:20 PM – 10:50 PM (Yahoo's Brazos Hall)
              DATE TBA at 9:30 PM – 10:00 PM (ACL Live at the Moody Theater)

This Detroit MC came to prominence in 2014 with "Try Me," which received an unlikely boost after Drake lifted some of the lyrics on an Instagram post. From there, "Try Me" flourished, racking up more than 13 million views on YouTube and rising to No. 45 on the Hot 100. The song's success led to Dej Loaf's signing with Columbia Records in 2014 and an appearance alongside Eminem, Big Sean and others on "Detroit vs. Everybody" from the Shady XV collective.


Thurs. March 19 at 7:05 PM – 7:35 PM (YouTube at Coppertank)

The man who made Tuesday (briefly) the most exciting day of the week will take the stage at SXSW. Makonnen first caught a buzz when Miley Cyrus shared an Instagram photo of the singer-rapper's "Don't Sell Molly No More," but a chance collaboration with Drake elevated his profile. Drizzy's arrival on the remix of "Tuesday" helped the track land at No. 12 on the Hot 100 and scored the pair a Grammy nomination for best rap/sung collaboration. Makonnen later signed to the rapper's OVO label in 2014, and released his debut, self-titled EP in early 2015.

James Bay

Wed. March 18 at 2:00 PM – 2:40 PM (Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center)
              Fri. March 20 at 11:45 PM – 12:30 AM (St. David's Historic Sanctuary)

A critic's darling in his native UK, James Bay has history supporting his bid for breakthrough success in the United States. By winning the Brit Awards' "Critic's Choice" statue in 2015, Bay became the latest recipient of a solid predictor for worldwide crossover success. Since 2008, the Critic's Choice winners list includes Adele, Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith. The singer-songwriter toured with Hozier last fall, and has been highlighted as a rising act by multiple outlets. Bay's SXSW set kicks off a busy month for the singer-songwriter. His debut album, Chaos and the Calm, is set for release Mar. 23 on Republic Records.

Jess Glynne

Fri. March 20 at 7:50 PM – 8:10 PM (Stubb's)

UK singer-songwriter Jess Glynne achieved mainstream success as the vocalist on Clean Bandit's "Rather Be," which debuted at No. 1 in the UK and was the most-streamed song in 2014. Across the pond, the song broke into the top 10 of the Hot 100 and nabbed the pair a Grammy Award for best dance recording. In 2015, Glynne is focusing on her solo career, releasing the single "Hold My Hand" and planning a debut album for the late spring or early summer. In addition, the singer-songwriter is collaborating with other artists, penning tracks for artists including Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora and Little Mix.

K Camp

Wed. March 18 at 1:30 AM – 2:00 AM (Palm Door on Sixth)
              Thurs. March 19 at 1:10 AM – 1:20 AM (Austin Music Hall)
              Fri. March 20 at 12:40 AM – 1:10 AM (405 Club)
              Date TBA at 10:15 PM – 10:35 PM (ACL Live at the Moody Theater)

The all-time leader in No. 1 singles on the real-time Emerging Artists chart, K Camp has collected more than 112 million views on his official YouTube channel. The mass exposure attracted Interscope Records, which signed the rapper to the label in 2014. His first EP, In Due Time reached the top 40 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums and spawned the 2 Chainz-assisted hit, "Cut Her Off," which climbed to No. 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. K Camp's debut album, Only Way Is Up, is scheduled for release in 2015.


Sets:      Thurs. Mar 19 at 1:15 AM – 1:35 AM (The Main)
              Thurs. Mar 19 at 11:00 PM – 11:40 PM (The Gatsby)

As with iloveMakonnen, Migos' career received an initial boost thanks to Drake, who joined the trio for the official remix of their song "Versace" and performed the track during the 2013 iHeartRadio music festival. Momentum continued into 2014, as the group's "No Label 2" mixtape was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its first week on the mixtape-sharing site DatPiff. Migos' rise turned the group into an in-demand collaborator, and the trio teamed with several major industry artists, including Lil Wayne, R. Kelly and Justin Bieber.

Rae Sremmurd

Sets:      Wed. March 18 at 12:15 AM – 12:25 AM (Empire Garage)
              Thurs. March 19 at 12:30 AM – 1:30 AM (Bar 96)
              Thurs. March 19 at 1:40 AM – 2:00 AM (Austin Music Hal)
              Fri. March 20 at 1:00 AM – 1:40 AM (Hype Hotel)

Despite 2015 marking Rae Sremmurd's SXSW debut, the group may feel a sense nostalgia returning to the streets of Austin, Texas. Last year, the group filmed the viral video of "No Flex Zone" during the festival, which has collected more than 3.8 million views since reaching YouTube last May. The pair caught the attention of producer Mike WILL Made-It, who helmed the group's debut album, SremmLife. The set reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and contained multiple hit singles "Flex" flew to No. 1 on the real-time Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists and No. 36 on the Hot 100, while follow-up track "No Type" outperformed its predecessor, returning the group to No. 1 on Emerging Artists and rising to No. 16 on the Hot 100.

Vic Mensa

Set:        Date TBA at 1:00 AM – 1:50 AM (The Main)

Like John Legend before him, Vic Mensa benefits from having one of music's most prolific titans guiding his career -- Kanye West. The superstar recruited Mensa for two recent songs, "Wolves" (alongside Sia) and a track reportedly titled "U Mad," which the pair debuted in London on March 3. Both tracks, along with other Mensa appearances and writing credits, are expected on West's next album, So Help Me God. As Mensa's collaborations with Kanye bloom, the Chicago singer-rapper is gaining traction for his debut single, "Down on My Luck," out via British label Virgin EMI. As Mensa readies his first major-label products, his success as an underground artist speaks for itself. His 2013 mixtape, Innanetape has been downloaded more than 146,000 times from sharing site DatPiff.

Years & Years

Sets:      Wed. March 18 at 12:00 AM – 12:40 AM (Blackheart)
              Wed. March 18 at 9:05 PM – 9:30 PM (Cedar Door)
              Fri. March 20 at 12:00 AM – 12:40 AM (Hype Hotel)
              Sat. March 21 at 12:30 AM – 1:10 AM (Empire Control Room)

A Katy Perry favorite, Years & Years obtained the pop queen's praise for their song "Desire." The electronica trio has sustained a consistent presence on the real-time Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart, with "King", "Take Shelter" and the aforementioned "Desire" logging lengthy stays at No. 1. "King" carried the group to national attention in the UK, where the track became their first (and the country's current) No. 1 single. Critical fervor has matched the trio's commercial success, with the group scoring the coveted BBC Sound of 2015 prize as the year's most promising new talent. Previous award winners include Adele, 50 Cent, Ellie Goulding, Corinne Bailey Rae and Sam Smith.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.