YouTube Music has named it the 2021 class of Foundry, its global independent artist development program.
After receiving our most applications ever, YouTube Music chose its largest to date with 27 artists representing 14 countries across many genres.
Each chosen artist will receive dedicated partner support from YouTube and seed funding to develop content.
Since launching in 2015, Foundry has supported more than 150 developing artists across 15 countries, including Arlo Parks, Dave, Dua Lipa, Lime Cordiale, Gunna, HARDY, Natanael Cano, Novelbright, Omar Apollo, Rosalía, and Tems.
“Being a part of Foundry was an amazing experience,” said Tems. “You get to connect with so many incredible artists and build relationships with wonderful people. It’s an opportunity to grow, and connect more with the world.”
Tems is still independent, building her career in an industry where artists have more options than ever before.
Meet YouTube Music’s Foundry Class of 2021
Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
Ambar Lucid: “I have always known that I wanted to be an artist. I just knew it was what to do, even if I didn’t completely understand it at times. I would describe my music as magical, healing, and inspiring. To me, being independent means having creative control and power over myself and my art. Success means being able to do things my way while having a loyal group of supporters with me throughout my journey.”
Bad Milk: “I think success is inspiring other people, and that’s my main goal. My music is chameleonic; I love to experiment with different sounds and portray different emotions. I don’t enjoy putting my creativity in a box. I see music as a mission. It’s definitely what I came here to do. I’m blessed to have the most caring and hard working team by my side. Working with a humongous platform like YouTube is crazy and overwhelming in the best way possible. It creates a space for artists like me to find new fans around the world.”
Bella Shmurda: “The music I do connects with everybody and has a message to pass. It goes beyond just music: it’s spiritual, and that’s what it’s described as ‘conscious’. Being an independent artist can mean funding your career personally, leading and working with your team to achieve all your goals. Foundry is an opportunity to elevate my career, and being a part of the program is a big win for me and for my team.”
Blessd: “Being an artist is a dream I always had and also something I needed to do for my family. As an independent artist, I feel free. YouTube is my main social network to connect with my audience and it’s incredible to be a part of Foundry. I see this as a very big moment in my career.”
chilldspot: “As independent artists, we can express what we really want to say and what we feel exactly. More than anything, to enjoy music is the biggest goal for us. With this support, we will be able to produce more of the video works that we are obsessed with and fans around the world will have chances to get to know us.”
Doul: “I want to share my music with people all around the world, and touch their soul through my expressions such as my sound, lyrics, fashion or makeup. Thanks to Foundry, people who have never heard of me can get to know me and my music.”
Ebhoni: “Everything I talk about in my music is a real moment: my story, my mood, my experience. To me, independence means individuality. I feel the most success as I achieve the goals that I set for myself, from very small to very lofty. I first fell in love with music by watching people do covers on YouTube, and starting to experiment with singing and making songs my own. I see Foundry as a way to allow more people to discover my music and connect with me.”
Enny: “Since childhood I had a love for music and the older I got, the more the desire grew. I would describe my music as a new vibe with an old feel and a fresh perspective. Being an independent artist means being a bit more hands on with all sides of your music. It might mean more work for you and your team but it makes the wins both small and big even more gratifying. For me, success is seeing people discover and connect with your music. And also knowing you’ve done the best you can, when creating and releasing your art.”
Pasadena, California, United States
Fana Hues: “When creating a project, I sprinkle all parts of myself throughout to build a sonic journal. Integrity is crucial; My art has to stay true to me constantly. Being an independent artist provides the freedom to dream as freely as I want, and my vision comes to fruition without compromise. With the support of Foundry, I’ll be able to add more shades and hues to my canvas, giving the world more of my vision while nurturing and growing my craft.”
Bakersfield, California, United States
Junior Mesa: “Being independent is a mentality. Claiming independence is saying: We are not the same! I will not conform to your standards. I will express myself in a way that satisfies my will, not yours!” I’ve basically been raised by YouTube, and it’s a huge honor to be recognized.”
Taiobeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Marina Sena: “To be an independent artist is to have determination, free will, freedom. I love being an independent artist, making the sound that really is all about me. I don’t think Foundry could come at a better time. After starting my solo career on the right foot and being about to release my first full album, there’s nothing better than support to bet on my sound and make it reach people all over the world.
Meekz: “Everything I’ve put out has been sentimental to me and had a great value, deeper than just music and shooting a video. I’m telling stories in a different way, in a Meekz way. The passion always comes through. To be an independent artist takes a lot of dedication, focus, and behind the scenes work. The bigger you get in life, the challenges get bigger, and you learn to deal with them better, and overcome them. Success for me is about improvement, progression and growing with each release. It’s about building relationships and doing for people what you’d expect them to do for you. The future of independent artists to me is looking great. We make popular happen.”
Paranoid 1966: “My friends pushed me to start singing and writing songs more seriously. Now, I always try to bring new sounds that say something about myself. With my producer Boixy, I always try to innovate. I want to be able to develop my art and music without ties to any constraints. Foundry is a great opportunity to take my creativity to a new level.”
Los Angeles, California, United States
Paris Texas: “Being an independent artist means your ideas mold the landscape of whatever field you’re in. Success as an independent artist means that whatever you’ve done in your field is cemented, statued, and acknowledged by artists all across the board. I would describe our music and work as a lot of good ideas and having fun.”
New York City, New York, United States
Raveena: “I always had an innate desire to be an artist and to express myself and be ultra-vulnerable. My music is experimental, with a backbone of pop sensibility. Visuals are also a huge part of my artistry and I love bringing people into my colorful, dream-like world. When I have a big vision, I find friends and collaborators to help me elevate my dreams along the way. I was actually really concerned about being able to create all the visions I see in my head for my upcoming album’s music videos, but I feel so supported in my endeavors, thanks to Foundry.”
Houston, Texas, United States
reggie: “My music tells you about me. It gives you something to relate to. I want the world to know I’m human. To me an independent artist is someone who is free to do what they want and move how they want. It’s a constant grind: you’re always talking to your team. You’re playing the game with other artists who have a lot of people behind them. But you get to make everything exactly how you want to make it. As creators, I hope we can get to a point where we can sustain ourselves. I hope the future of independent music is that it’s not even called independent music, because it’s such a normal way of doing business.”
Rote Mütze Raphi
Rote Mütze Raphi: “I can’t remember when I started to sing, it must have been around the time I started to think. I always said to the people around me that making music is my biggest goal. People often laugh about clear statements like this if you are young and without experience and success. But for me there wasn’t any trigger necessary to decide to become a musician. There was no alternative. Being a musician means everything to me, I can do what I really love. For me I’m successful when I can touch people with my music and maybe even help them to go through a hard time.”
SE SO NEON
Seoul, South Korea
SE SO NEON: “We make a spectrum of colorful music that crosses the boundaries of genres, love for vintage textures, emotions and explosive energy that resonate deep in the heart, and above all, the pursuit of novelty. We’re happy to participate in Foundry, as we’re focusing not only on our activities in Korea but also on our success as a global act.”
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Seedhe Maut: “Our whole lives, we’d been told this is how we had to live or do. Hip-hop helped us articulate our hopes and ambitions and be who we truly wanted to be. Once you’ve tasted that kind of freedom, that happiness and belonging, why would you ever choose to do anything else? We represent a generation that dares to dream and wants to live life on its own terms. With our music, we hope to give a voice to others like us who go against the grain and follow through on their convictions, whether that be as an artist, gamer, accountant, or whatever. As long as it’s true to you. No compromises, no regrets. Being independent grants us the freedom to evolve in any direction that we feel like. The downside of that can be that sometimes, great ideas get sidelined due to limited resources. Foundry helps remove some of those hurdles, and we’re extremely helpful to unleash our full creative potential onto the world.”
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMx2-6At2Rx0kapbSjKxwJA: “My music is lusty and precious, experimental yet familiar. Being an independent artist means choosing your own narrative on a daily basis. I see Foundry as an opportunity to expand and think even bigger.”
Sinead Harnett: “My music is honest, and influenced by classic R&B. A healing, aural hug, if you will. Being an artist is something I’ve put so much time and work into, just simply for the love of it. I never knew it would become my career, but I knew I would want to write and sing forever. I feel lucky to be independent, in the sense that I’m living up to my expectations and no one else’s. It’s not always easy, but trusting in and carving out your own vision is exhilarating. I believe success as an independent artist lies in having creative control, and in being able to sell out tours and connect to fans. Being supported by an epic team for my visuals and music will be a huge step in my career. I’m excited to reach new audiences and introduce myself to people that don’t know about me yet. Foundry is a big look, and I’m so excited to make it count.”
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Snail Mail: “To me, being an independent artist is about the songwriting craft and maintaining integrity, while also getting to do whatever I want creatively. Snail Mail started with basement shows and tours that my bandmates and I booked ourselves, so I take a lot of pride in the work that it took to get where I am today. I define immediate success as putting out music that I would listen to myself and long term success as being able to make music for as long as it feels right to do so.”
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
SoFaygo: “Being an independent artist means going harder than anyone else. There is more to prove. You can do and be whatever you want if you just believe in yourself.”
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Sycco: “Sycco music is colourful and excitable. I think my energy tends to exude those qualities. I love being my own boss, and answering to myself even when it gets hard. The satisfaction of getting something right and ticking off goals no matter how big or small is so fulfilling, and unlike any other feeling.”
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Tenille Arts: “My music is country, with modern lyrics and melodies. It’s vulnerable, honest, fun, and talks about real life. Being from Canada originally, I was influenced by Shania Twain to go to Nashville and start my career there, and country music always seemed like the natural decision for me. I made my first trip to Nashville after posting covers on my YouTube channel, so Foundry giving me the opportunity to have exposure I’ve always dreamed of really feels like a full circle moment. I want to share my music with a lot of people and have a lasting impact. My big goal is to have a headlining arena tour, and I don’t feel limited at all by being an independent artist. I think it’s all possible!”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Tokischa: “My music has no labels. It’s a free, new wave. I’m excited to stand out in countries that are far from my culture.”
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Tuyo: “Tuyo is more about a feeling than a type of sound or genre. We mix very delicate vocals with strong rhythms. It’s music for floating, for flying. We are whole, happy and successful when we can communicate with people through music. Foundry will help us achieve our goal of starting musical conversations with people around the world, and to improve our work and make it more meaningful
Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.
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