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Which Artists Will Break Out This Fall?

Clairo, Pop Smoke and more predictions from industry insiders.

The fall season is packed with releases from established stars, Lana Del Rey, Blink-182, Tegan and Sara, Charli XCX and more all included. But there’s also plenty of room for emerging acts to break big before 2019 winds up — just ask the labelheads, music managers and artists below, each offering their pick for which artist will steal the spotlight next.


Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley: “Not only is Canaan Smith one of our best friends, but he keeps blowing our minds as a songwriter and live performer.”

Ibra Ake, creative director, Royalty Collective: Burna Boy has been the best lyricist in the world for some time now, even though that’s lost in translation sometimes. His voice during live performances is just as effortless if not better than the recorded music. Burna’s charisma is off the charts in every interview; he’s clearly only a few televised performances away from being the giant he knows he is.”

Jean Nelson, president, The Blueprint Group/BPG Records: “Megan Thee Stallion stands for everyday young women, and speaks for them through her lyrics. She’s an incredibly talented rapper, on her way to being up with the likes of Nicki Minaj.”

Doris Muñoz, founder, Mija Management: “Omar Apollo will be the one this year. The way that he has been able to cross over in general market-spaces and tour internationally as an independent artist is remarkable. Especially as a first-generation Mexican-American kid, the way he is carrying the flag for our community in the R&B and pop space is amazing to watch. He has all the potential in the world of being a full-blown international pop star.”

Zekiel Nicholson, co-founder/A&R head, Since the ’80s: Lucky Daye debuted a great body of work this year and has an amazing stage presence. These two components assure me we’ll see a lot more of him this year. Anatii is a South African artist who I think will break out not only for his artistry, but also because of his production style — see his contributions on Beyoncé’s The Gift album.”


Gabe Saporta, co-founder, The Artist Group and former Cobra Starship frontman: “Role Model’s Tucker [Pillsbury] is going to be the breakout star of the bedroom pop scene. He walks a fine line between being credible and being commercial, and it works. The songs are cool, but your little sister can also sing along. I watched his performance at this year’s Lollapalooza. The crowd wasn’t huge, but they were all people you’d want to hang with, and they new every damn word.”

Henley Halem, senior director of A&R/manager, TMWRK Management: “I’ve been watching bbno$ for a while and I think he’s on to something special. Currently his song with Y2K, ‘LaLaLa,’ is one of the biggest songs streaming. Originally released independently, they utilized unconventional, grassroots marketing leading to the songs enormous commercial success.”

Daniel Glass, president/founder, Glassnote Records:Clairo. I like her vibe, style and musicality. She is on a key tour with Khalid, and Rostam’s production [on her debut album Immunity] is stellar.”

Talia Miller, U.S. director of publicity, Rough Trade: “Sammi Lanzetta. Think knotty indie rock with big hooks and bold guitars — she reminds me of Speedy Ortiz and Lucy Dacus in all the best ways. I loved her 2017 EP For Avery and I’m excited to hear what she can do on a full-length. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia and fresh off a US tour with Tacocat, her debut album comes out in November on 6131 Records. “


Adam Mersel, manager to Ben Platt:Oliver Tree is uniquely himself — someone who beats to the tune of his own drum and isn’t scared to take risks both musically and visually. Aside from his hilarious persona, his raw talent and instincts allow him to continually evolve and raise the bar. He’s smart as hell.”

Marcie Allen, president/founder, MAC Presents: “Lennon Stella built a beginner fanbase through releasing viral content. She cut her teeth in songwriting and acting on ABC’s series, Nashville, and her EP Love, Me has songs that sneak onto most of your playlists. I love that Lennon is a powerhouse female talent with Nashville ties. Now that she is supporting The Chainsmokers in front of arena crowds, the switch is going to flip.”

Hunter Hayes: Scott Helman, out of Canada. I love how Shawn Mendes’ stuff isn’t necessarily always hardcore pop, and Scott’s the same way. Production-wise, you can’t put a label on like where it sits. The Arcadian Wild are my new bluegrass obsession — they’re like a new Nickel Creek. I assumed they were based in Colorado, but they’re all from Nashville. They met at Lipscomb University. I’m working on getting in touch with them. I’m obsessed.”

Rich the Kid: “No Cap. He’s got his own sound that people like, and he’s one of the ones that rep for the hood.”


David Jacobs, music attorney, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks: Lil Tecca, Pop Smoke, Role Model and Deb Never are each exciting new artists. Lil Tecca has his very young finger on the zeitgeist pulse of what crossover urban music looks and sounds like right now: Beats, hooks and melodies all hitting hard at once. Being armed with a great manager and A&R doesn’t hurt his chances, either. Pop Smoke embodies everything that can be interesting in hip-hop right now,’Welcome To The Party’ is just about the coolest song I’ve heard all year. Role Model and Deb Never are two of my favorite in the new school of alternative crossover artists — real songs, real messages and great voices, but Q4 might be a little early for their true break.”

Lewis Capaldi: Donna Missal has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard; it’s ridiculous. I remember finding a demo of a tune she just put up called ‘Keep Lying’ and just having it on repeat for months. She’s got one of those voices that puts all of us trying this singing game to shame. I would love to work with her on something.”

Who entered their predictions last year — and were they right? Read 2018’s picks for the next breakout star here.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Aug. 24 issue of Billboard.