As anticipation builds for the BRIT Awards 2024 on Saturday, all eyes are on the nominees. For me, it’s newcomers like Olivia Dean, Kenya Grace, and Venbee who are nominated for their first BRIT Award that I find myself fascinated by. Beyond their exceptional musical talents, the allure of their rapidly growing audience is not to be over-looked.

In today’s fast-paced music landscape, I have seen the journey from emerging artist to global sensation significantly accelerating, now taking months compared to the years it once required (pre-social media and streaming). An MRC Data study shows that 5% of TikTok users say they use the platform to discover new artists and 63% claim they find exciting new music on the platform. And this rapidly growing connection between an emerging artist and their audience extends beyond music – it’s a fanbase deeply invested in following their journey. Through strategic partnerships, aligning with these artists and their audience has the potential to infuse a brand’s culture with something invaluable: cultural relevance and authenticity.

I am intrigued by the brands that are already making strides working with these emerging artists. Take Olivia Dean, whose recent collaborations with Clarks positively shifted my own perspective of the brand, which I personally now perceive as contemporary and relevant. As of 2023, Olivia Dean also has a Chanel ambassadorship which I believe has elevated her global presence and association. Similarly, we’ve seen Shygirl partner with Dr. Martens and Cat Burns’ with New Balance – both offering a resounding commitment to authenticity.

So, what are the benefits and considerations for brands looking to amplify their presence through emerging artists?

At its core, this is an opportunity to participate in something new, and undeniably authentic. These artists offer a gateway into the heart of youth culture, a group known by their unwavering devotion to individuality. In today’s social media landscape, which is overflowing with influencer partnerships, this is the chance to tell a different story, to resonate with consumers on a deeper level. Partnering with grassroots artists presents a unique opportunity for brands to cultivate deeper connections, to engage, and ultimately inspire their consumers. Take American Express’ truly groundbreaking Gold Unsigned initiative. It offers undiscovered artists a life-changing opportunity of a record deal and their first big break in the industry.

Within this diverse pool of talent lie the future stars of tomorrow, offering brands the chance to grow alongside the artists they support. However, this isn’t about chasing the next global icon, the real value for a brand comes from engaging with niche hyper-engaged audiences.

So, what are my key takeaways for brands navigating grassroots artist partnerships?

  • Firstly, be agile and adaptable. In the last few years, especially with the impact of TikTok, we have seen the music industry shifting rapidly, and brands must be nimble in seizing opportunities as they arise. Reactivity is key in identifying emerging artists whose fanbase is growing and deepening.
  • Secondly, speak authentically – partnering with emerging artists offers the unique opportunity to enhance a brands cultural relevance and authenticity has never been more important when targeting the youth of today. When working with smaller niche fanbases, it’s vital to trust that the emerging artist knows the most effective ways to connect with their own audiences.
  • Lastly, take calculated risks. While the allure of emerging talent is undeniable, brands must approach partnerships with a discerning eye, weighing the potential for growth against the inherent uncertainties of the industry.

As we look ahead to the BRIT Awards 2024 and beyond, the synergy between brands and emerging artists continues to hold immense potential. But investing in emerging artists isn’t just about chasing the next big thing. It’s about fostering a connection that rises above our current fast-paced trend cycle, resonating with audiences on a deeper, more engaged level.