The independent artist and his team are growing his fanbase with great music, social engagement, and Spotify for Artists’ Discovery Mode tool.
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and producer mehro makes music for fans to feel. The 21-year-old rising star’s wistful first single, “perfume,” with its melancholy acoustic guitar licks and love-struck lyrics, was released in February 2020 and has since become a bona fide indie hit with over 10 million streams on Spotify. After dropping “perfume,” mehro released three singles and two remixes to set the stage for his debut project, SKY ON FIRE, which was released in March 2021. To date, the project has amassed over 23 million streams, and songs from the project have been saved or playlisted over 1.1 million times.
mehro’s success has been propelled by a marketing approach that amplifies his natural affability via social media and in video content, as well as Spotify for Artists tools like Canvas, artist playlists, and Discovery Mode to help deepen his connection with current fans and help introduce him to new ones.
When asked about the source of his inspiration and what led him to create music, mehro responds matter-of-factly: “I’m a sensitive person. I felt so many things inside of me, and I had to let it out somehow." On social media, in intimate conversations with fans over Zoom, or even in the interview for this article, mehro’s demeanor reflects the emotive music he’s released thus far: He is gentle, as self-aware as he is self-assured, and most importantly, authentic.
“The stories he’s telling in these songs are universal but very specific,” says Danny Rukasin, his manager. “The way that he’s cultivated a community around his music and his fans, [you can tell that] he really does care.” Rukasin, also co-manager to Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, partnered with mehro to help him realize his goals of taking care of himself and his family while making art that brings him both fulfillment and excitement.
No stranger to the needs of emerging artists, Rukasin and the team around mehro set out with a strategy of scaling the audience for his honest and earnest brand of music. Though fans have gotten a taste of what mehro can do with his releases thus far, Rukasin explains that it's just the tip of the iceberg and that the varied offerings to come require an atypical approach to building a fanbase. “mehro has a ton of music — and a wide breadth of diverse music, too,” he says. “So we’re putting a release plan together that isn’t leading to one big moment but continuously releasing music, so there is no endpoint and more for the newly discovered fan to listen to and stay excited for.”
Spotify for Artists tools were key to their plan of building upon past successes and converting social media engagement into fan engagement on Spotify. mehro’s playlist, Stay Pure, was not only a place for him to showcase his own music, but his musical taste as well. The playlist, which fans can find on his artist profile via Artist Pick, features tracks from his favorite artists alongside his own: “Stay Pure is one of those things where I get to champion artists whose music I love and who I respect,” he says.
Beyond being an expression of his personal taste, Stay Pure was an opportunity to get fans involved and to give them a stake in one of his creations. “Stay Pure turned into a fan initiative where we had fans submitting UGC [user-generated content] creative, and eventually we made the cover one of the fan’s pieces of art,” explains mehro’s marketing manager, Ryan Lassi. “We’re trying to not only build community around mehro’s Instagram; there’s a community to be built around his Spotify.”
For mehro, imagery is as important as the music, and he uses Canvas to aid in the visual storytelling that accompanies his music. “We launched with that ‘perfume’ Canvas, and there’s something just really timeless about that Canvas that we really love — it’s very mehro,” says Lassi. “We had Canvases go out for ‘hideous’ and singles as they went, but then, once we started talking about the SKY ON FIRE project, we were like, ‘maybe now is our opportunity to refresh these Canvases and give fans something new to consume, especially if they’re coming back to some of these tracks for the second, third, fourth time.’”
Discovery Mode was key to their plan of building mehro’s momentum and introducing him to listeners who were likely to have an affinity for his sound. Currently in an early testing phase, this new tool may help artists expand the reach of their music when audiences are most open to discovery. “Spotify understands how to really hit those listeners,” says Rukasin. “[With Discovery Mode], we saw the opportunity and felt, ‘Why not take it while we’re still building and leading into new releases?’ There’s new music coming. Why not go and look at what the music is that’s going to resonate, and then kick it into overdrive to try to get audiences that are passively listening to lock in on the songs?”
In August, mehro’s team turned on Discovery Mode for “perfume” and ”chance with you” through his distributor Downtown Music Services. “We started with two songs,” explains Rukasin. “The strategy was: Start with two songs for three weeks leading into the new release moment. That will help create a wave of listeners.” The results were impressive: With music that resonated with fans and a clever strategy that kept them engaged, mehro was already reaching new listeners each month. Discovery Mode helped amplify that reach further and helped increase his monthly new listener growth four-fold, taking him past the 1 million monthly listeners threshold for the first time. In addition, through Discovery Mode, mehro increased views of his Canvas for both “perfume” and “hideous” by over 50%. These numbers prove that the music he makes resonates with fans all over the world. Discovery Mode also helped mehro reach fans in 15 new markets where he previously had a minimal audience — including Japan, Slovakia, and Hungary. “We want ears on the music because we know that all people need to do is hear it once or twice and they’ll be a fan, they’ll stay involved, they’ll become more active,” says Rukasin.
When mehro learned that he had hit the 1 million listeners milestone, he was understandably awestruck: “I can’t even believe it. I don’t know what to say. That was a goal of mine long [ago].” He sees this all as an introduction to himself as an artist and to the varied sounds he has coming, exemplified in his latest singles: “I’m releasing two series of music simultaneously,” he says, excitement written all over his face. “The first release from it is called ‘coastline,’ and that’s from a series called Alchemy. Not an album, not a project, not an EP — it’s a series,” he says of his novel strategy to introduce fans to the breadth of his music. “The second song that we’re putting out is called ‘howling,’ and that is from another series called Dark Corners. We’ll be going from one series to the next series to the next series, releasing one song at a time, to show what we’re capable of, what songs are possible for us, and the different sides of who I am, as an artist and as a person.”