Spotify’s artist development program is getting a whole new identity.
On Monday (March 9), the streaming service announced the launch of RADAR, a global emerging artist program that will unite Spotify’s various domestic and international programs under a single name. The program will supplant the previous U.S. artist development program RISE, along with its various overseas iterations.
“The thinking is that since we’re the number one streaming platform in 79 markets around the world, we should probably unite these programs under one central umbrella,” Ned Monahan, Spotify’s head of global hits, tells Billboard of the program, which will launch with a total of 19 sister programs covering 36 artists and more than 50 markets across the globe.
Despite the universal branding, Monahan says that each of the individual programs will remain locally run, with each tailored to resonate specifically with the audience in that region and align with the state of the industry there. “These different markets have such different patterns of music consumption,” he says, “[and] they’re at different stages of development in terms of how long Spotify has been [there].”
The first artist to be featured in RADAR’s U.S. iteration will be bilingual Houston-based singer-songwriter Alaina Castillo, whose RØMANS-produced track “i don’t think i love you anymore” has already surpassed three million Spotify streams. Under the program, Castillo will receive a concerted marketing push from the company, including a mini-documentary, a show on the YouTube emerging artist channel COLORS, Spotify Singles recordings — including a string quartet-assisted version of “i don’t think i love you anymore” and a cover of Andrea Boccelli‘s “Besame Mucho” — music video support and promotion on Spotify’s social channels. She will also be heavily featured on the newly-launched On Our RADAR, a playlist that will highlight “the must-know tracks and hot new artists across a full spectrum of genres” as chosen by Spotify’s U.S. editorial team.
“She encapsulates a really interesting type of artist that we’re starting to see more and more, where she really speaks to both the pop and the Latin audience, sometimes in the same song,” says Monahan of Castillo. “On a basic level, she has this amazing audience that’s kind of across these different worlds, which we thought [she] was a really interesting artist to start with.”
In a statement, Castillo expressed excitement over her inclusion. “RADAR takes this big dream and throws it into one amazing opportunity,” she said. “I’m also super excited to see how all my fans are going to react, because I feel super close to them and they’ve been with me for so long and support me like nobody else could.”
Castillo’s solid fan base was certainly an important element in Spotify’s decision to select the young singer from a crop of artists nominated for the U.S. program, which narrowed down its choices in a process informed by both data and editorial decision making.
While each program is targeted to a specific market, Monahan and his team aren’t just thinking locally. “What we’re aspiring to do is to, as much as possible, take the artists in the different programs across the world, and support them cross functionally across all the markets,” he says.
Spotify has been in the business of elevating emerging artists for some time. Under its previous artist development program RISE, the company helped launch The Blaze, King Princess, Official HIGE DANdism, Jorja Smith and singer-songwriter Lauv, who credits the program with helping him carve out a successful career.
“Spotify is a major reason why I’m able to be an independent artist,” said Lauv in a statement. “Having their support from day 1 and my music accessible to millions of users around the world has allowed me to grow as an artist and share music on my terms over the past 5 years. To have fans, whether in the Philippines, Peru or Philadelphia know the words to songs all before I ever toured there speaks to Spotify’s global reach and ability to speak directly to fans with music that resonates around the globe. When I was just starting out and emerging as an artist, Spotify believed in the vision of the kind of artist I would become today and helped fostered that growth through all stages of my career.”
Going forward, Monahan says each of the artists selected for the U.S.-based RADAR program will be promoted using the same suite of content, though other elements may be added or subtracted down the line and/or tailored to each artist’s specific wants and needs. He adds that they are looking to launch an artist every quarter this year, with a commitment to fostering their careers over the long term.
“I think it’s important with these programs that they’re not just a quick flash in the pan, and that [they make an] enduring commitment to the artists,” he says. “When we select one of these artists, that’s what we’re doing. We’re really investing in their future.”
You can check out the full list of global RADAR programs along with their featured artists below.
United States: Alaina Castillo
United Kingdom: Young T + Bugsey
Brazil: Agnes Nunes
Mexico: Silvana Estrada
Argentina: Romeo El Santo
Colombia: Ela Minus
Spain: DORA, Aleesha, María José Llergo, Guitarricadelafuente, Paranoid 1966
Australia: merci, mercy
France: Lous and the Yakuza, Yuzmv, Philippine, Hervé
UAE & Lebanon: Hollaphonic x Xriss
South Africa: Elaine
Philippines: SB19, August Wahh
Indonesia: Mahen, Monica Karina
Austria: AVEC, My Ugly Clementine
Netherlands: RIMON, Jeangu Macrooy
Japan: Fujii Kaze, Vaundy, Rina Sawayama
India: Mali, When Chai Met Toast, Taba Chake