Pop Shop Podcast: Meet Fletcher, the Fast-Rising Pop Artist Who's Owning the Streaming Game Without a Major Label

Jessica Xie


Welcome to the Pop Shop Podcast’s Headliner Interview, Billboard's weekly long-form talk with a compelling, inspirational voice in the world of music.

Cari Fletcher is a recent NYU grad and X Factor alum enjoying early success behind her freshly launched solo career. Recording solo under her surname (“It’s gender-ambiguous, which I think is badass”), she’s turning heads behind a spirited brand of life-affirming, ready-for-2017 pop that has slayed the Spotify game and -- safe to say -- brandishes the banjo unlike any of her peers.

Fletcher stopped by Billboard’s New York office last week to discuss her budding career with Pop Shop host Chris Payne

“[Spotify] heard ‘War Paint’ when it just started to be a buzzy track and they were like, 'Hey, we love this -- the message and what it’s about,'” Fletcher says, thinking back to the ascent of her banjo-inflected debut. “That was the most meaningful thing to me, to have my first song out in the world be heard by so many people.” It's been streamed over 18 million times since its June 2015 release -- not bad for an upstart pop debut without the backing of a major label.

She maintained momentum as an internet-beloved up-and-comer last week, dropping the video for starry-eyed single “Wasted Youth,” an impassioned ode to female companionship that flexed its social-media muscle on Billboard’s real-time social charts. It got enough engagement to top Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart (and remains in the top 10 at publishing time) while soaring all the way to No. 2 on the Trending 140 (which includes established stars alongside newcomers).

But she’s getting ready to close the book on Finding Fletcher, the debut EP that dropped last year. After recording that one in Nashville, she’s now holed up in L.A., working in the studio on her forthcoming solo debut. “Ive been writing a ton of songs… It sounds like a more mature version of Fletcher. I’ve been through some more experiences.”

Listen to the interview above for a window into Fletcher’s journey, along with some sound advice for aspiring pop artists. Other topics include meeting fellow fast-riser Maggie Rogers at NYU, how minoring in mental health studies helps her get inside the heads of her collaborators (in a totally cool way) and what she learned about being a woman in the music industry through her X Factor group Lakoda Rayne. 

Click here to subscribe/rate the Pop Shop Podcast on iTunes. The Headliner Interview runs every Thursday; previous episodes include Brandy ClarkPhantogram and Dawn Richard.