In the soundtrack of your life, every day probably sounds just a little bit different. The weather, your workout, your mood—anything can inspire a song that brings out your best dance moves, has you reaching for tissues, or something in between. On Spotify, not only is there music you already know and love for every moment, but there’s also a world full of new artists, songs, and genres to explore. Just ask any 18- to 24-year-old Spotify user: This important audience has a unique and somewhat unexpected taste for discovery.
In fact, listeners in that age group in particular have no boundaries when it comes to the artists they stream for the first time. We looked back at the musicians they played over the past 60 days and found that they’re as drawn to the “latest and greatest” as they are to “oldies but goodies.” They’re discovering the artists their parents and grandparents listened to, like Gladys Knight and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as playing the jams their own peers—like Normani and Nora en Pure—are creating. They have their fingers on the pulse of pop culture and are simultaneously interested in learning about the bands that inspired them.
Below are 10 artists, both emerging and established, that 18- to 24-year-old listeners have streamed for the first time over the past six months. Get to know them for yourself:
2018 saw the introduction of Italian electronic production duo Kina. Pasquale Renella and Giuseppe Garotti create downbeat-electronic lo-fi music with a lot of heart. They site XXXTENTACION, Shallou, Madeon, and Porter Robinson as being their greatest musical influences.
This burgeoning South Korean all-female K-pop group is the latest to be formed by JYP Entertainment. They’re considered monster rookies, meaning they’ve found significant early success. Case in point: ITZY set a new record for the most-viewed K-pop debut music video on YouTube and won their first music award just nine days after dropping their single “DALLA DALLA.”
If you like Billie Eilish, you should check out Au/Ra—another teenage singer-songwriter making waves in the music world. Born in Ibiza, Spain, and raised in Antigua by her parents (including her father, German producer Torsten Stenzel), Au/Ra found a love for music and writing at an early age. Her single “Panic Room” was featured on Norwegian DJ Alan Walker’s “Darkside.” Look out for the multilingual singer-songwriter on her first tour.
If Spanglish lyrics combined with a meme-influenced sense of humor is your jam, check out Cuco. The LA-based Mexican-American producer, singer, and self-taught multi-instrumentalist creates a music all his own that combines pop, jazz, and hip-hop. Recently, he’s made his voice known in more ways than one by headlining a benefit concert series for immigrant families.
The singer, rapper, and songwriter originally from Orlando, Florida, has toured with XXXTENTACION and Post Malone. Now he’s making a name for himself on stages at SXSW and on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. “I’m living an ultimate high,” he says. “I went from being homeless to traveling the globe with rock stars, being able to connect with and spread positive vibes to so many different people.”
Arguably among the most influential jazz singers of the 20th century, Billie Holiday is usually uttered in the same breath as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Along with her vocal power, she could alter lyric phrasings and tempo in manners that can be traced all the way through to today’s pop music.
Hit machine Tony Bennett is still singing and recording at 92 years of age, and even in recent years has been attracting contemporary collaborators such as Lady Gaga. His soulful voice first attracted attention in the 1950s. He came roaring back in the ’80s and ’90s by connecting with young audiences, culminating in an MTV Unplugged appearance in 1994. He hasn’t slowed down on performing or collaborating since.
Deadhead or not, you can’t help but be mesmerized by Grateful Dead—be it their lengthy jams, poetic lyrics, or eclectic sound. The band was a true product of ’60’s counterculture, combining elements of rock, folk, country, bluegrass, reggae, and space rock. Adored by baby boomers Gen X’ers, and now a new generation, The Dead is anything but.
The gone but not forgotten Queen of Tejano music paved her way in an overwhelmingly male-dominated genre to become one of the most celebrated Latin artists of all time. Her reach spans fashion, cosmetics, television and film. Texas even celebrates her birthday, April 16, as “Selena Day,” keeping her music and energy alive year after year.
No one straddles the lines of hip-hop and R&B quite like LL Cool J. He’s a man of firsts—one of the first hip-hop artists to find mainstream success, and the first rapper to receive Kennedy Center Honors. He started rapping at age nine, recorded his first demos at 16, and released his first record before turning 20. And through it all, he’s kept his cool.
And there’s plenty more where that came from. Stream our playlist of the artists 18- to 24-year-olds are discovering from around the world and across the years.