14 May 2018

Guide to Discovering the Top 5 Unsigned Artists

This is our guide to discovering the top 5 unsigned artists.

Instrumental's A&R scouting platform is actively tracking over 160,000 artists and 740,000 tracks on Spotify. In a recent blog series, we have been sharing tips and tricks to help our users maximise the benefits of our platform.

Utilising Spotify and social API data with applied AI processes, our A&R scouting platform unearths the fastest growing artists and tracks. With a multitude of filters on our platform, users are able to fine-tune their searches to suit each brief. We understand that each brief is unique, so in this blog we want to show you how we’d go about scouting for emerging indie-rock bands and female-pop stars using our music scouting platform.

Check out our comprehensive, step-by-step guide to unearthing the next big thing below.

1. Determine that the artist is self-releasing

The ‘exclude and include label type’ filters on the platform allow you to determine an artist's association. By excluding ‘major label’ artists, our platform will only pull data from the (approx) 45% of artists on Spotify who are either self-releasing or associated with independent labels. By including ‘self-releasing’, results will show artists with tracks not associated with a label or publisher. As a result, you’ll save time by only listening to self-releasing artists.

2. Genre

Crucially, this filter allows users to fine-tune the genre of artists or tracks to suit their brief. In this case, we are going to select ‘indie_alt’ and ‘pop’. This will provide you with a list of the best performing indie alternative and pop artists. For broader searches, the ‘exclude artist genre’ filter allows the user to remove certain genres from the dashboard.

3. Direct followers

While playlist following is a great indicator of streams and popularity, following an artist directly on Spotify is indicative of genuine, ongoing interest in that artist. This is because it takes a lot more effort for a user to click on an artist profile and click ‘follow’ than it does clicking ‘play’ on a track. Direct followers of an artist are genuinely interested in them!

You can also sort artists by their ‘7-day artist direct follower change’. By clicking on the heading, the platform will rank artists in your search by the number of direct followers they have gained in that period. This is also available as a growth percentage, which compares their direct following this week with their ‘direct artist followers last week’.

We have set the maximum Spotify following at 30000 to exclude artists who are self-releasing, but huge in their own right (e.g. Chance the Rapper). Please see a screengrab of the filters chosen for this search below.

4. Other tips for unearthing future stars on Instrumental’s music scouting platform

Another filter we recommend using for this search is total playlist following.

'Total playlist following’ is a great indicator of streams. Every time an artist is added to an influential playlist of more than 10,000 followers, that following figure gets added to the artist’s total. By using the ‘total playlist following’ filters, you are able to see the unsigned artists that are being picked up by the influential playlists.

So, who are the top 5 unsigned artists we’ve selected from our search results?

Based on our search inputs, we have unearthed 5 fast-rising, unsigned artists. Check them out below.

Alexi Blue

LA-born and raised Alexi Blue is part of the generation of talented artists breaking through on YouTube. Having posted cover songs on the platform from a young age, she has built a huge 439,000 subscriber base and has since transitioned into releasing original music.

With huge pop hooks, catchy melodies and a real R&B edge, her latest releases are pop music at its best. Her direct following is just short of 30,000, whilst her total playlist following has grown by over 106,895 this week to over 1 million (Instrumental).

VHS Collection

New York City three-piece VHS Collection have built up a reputation for their high energy live performances. Having played music together their whole lives, the band members are effortlessly tight. The band’s latest single, ‘One’, is an excellent match for live sets, with a distinctive alt-rock, electro, disco-inspired sound. With 80s like pop-vocals and a catchy chorus, the track explores the desire for youthful escape. Picking up 226 new direct followers this week, the band’s direct following is fast approaching 20,000 (Instrumental). With over 580,000 streams on their new single, VHS Collection is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Sea Girls

Leicester’s indie rockers Sea Girls have already picked up a loyal fan base, who have been turning up in force to every single one their shows. Unleashing the power of Sea Girls’ live sets into their latest single, ‘Too Much Fun’, the release is a festival-ready indie-anthem. With features on ‘Most Blogged Artists’ and ‘Feel Good Indie’ playlists, the band’s direct following has grown to 2,869 this week, alongside their 215,000 total playlist followers (Instrumental).

Ivy Adara

Having already secured impressive songwriting credits including Maggie Lindemann’s “Obsessed”, Australian pop-newcomer Ivy Adara has returned with a ‘turn the volume up’ pop hit follow-up to her debut single. With ‘Currency’ she has lifted herself into the emerging pop-princess league, dominated by the likes of Carlie Hanson, Sasha Sloan, Charlotte Lawrence. Her catchy choruses and bassy synths are being enjoyed by her 4.7 million playlist followers and growing 1, 700 direct follower base (Instrumental).

High Tropics

High Tropics is an exciting garage pop 5-piece from the Sunshine Coast. Launched by the frontman of The Ninjas, Josh Stewart, the band is showing very promising early signs.

Their latest single ‘Wait for You’, mastered by Brian Lucey (Liam Gallagher, Royal Blood), sees the group step away from their earlier home recordings, into a full studio. It is an encapsulating and infectious effort, which Stewart says is “about patience, determination, and moving forward”. Their playlist following has grown by an incredible 1,834% this week to 365,448, as they rise up our dashboard. At this early stage, the band have already picked up over 400 direct followers (Instrumental).

If you have any questions about Instrumental’s music scouting platform or want to find out how it can power your own music scouting efforts, please get in touch via hello@weareinstrumental.com