Three Breakthrough Artists Reflect on Their First Year on Spotify

l-r Emanuel, Jenevieve, glaive
January 7, 2021

We talk to new artists Jenieveve, glaive, and Emanuel about their successes on Spotify in 2020.

It takes guts to be a new artist. Putting your music out there for the public to hear for the first time is a brave act. In the midst of all that was going on in 2020, thousands of such new artists made their debut on Spotify, finding success and fans who will no doubt brag about being there “before they blew up.” Over 60,000 artists crossed the 100,000 monthly listeners threshold at some point in 2020, and of those artists, 6,500 of them hadn’t released music on Spotify prior to 2020.

As part of our look back at the year with Wrapped, we want to highlight three new artists who hit that 100,000 monthly listener mark and, in the process, gave fans music that made a tough year more manageable. To get a glimpse of what it was like to be an emerging artist who went from relatively unknown to hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners, we spoke to Canadian crooner Emanuel, whose track "Need You" became an anthem for human connection; teenage North Carolinian singer-producer glaive, whose hyperpop stylings earned him a following and record deal with Interscope; and Miami native Jenevieve, whose unique brand of R&B brings together sultriness, wit, and relatable vulnerability. We spoke to each artist about crossing the 100,000 monthly listeners threshold, the songs that helped to put them on the map last year, and the most surprising stat from their 2020 Wrapped results.

Jenevieve's 2020 Wrapped

Jenevieve's 2020 Wrapped

Spotify for Artists: You have over a half million monthly listeners on Spotify now, which is incredible for a new artist. How does it feel to have so many listeners now?

Jenevieve: The year was such a blur. Between finally sharing music with the world and seeing people react to it and listen to it and enjoy it, as well as all the ugly and horrible things that have happened in 2020, I haven't really been able to take in certain moments. It feels amazing to know how many people are listening to the music. It seems like people have been able to find joy and warmth in these songs. I’m just so grateful to see this many people enjoying my work. I’ve been working on my craft since I was 13.

With over 7 million streams and counting on Spotify, your song "Baby Powder" got a lot of attention. What were your expectations when you recorded it?

I knew “Baby Powder” was something special. Benzi [the song’s producer] and I always just try to make stuff that excites us. Whatever happens after that is out of our control. But, who knows? Things resonate with people in different ways. I think “Baby Powder” was the perfect song to listen to during all those months we were locked away in our homes. We couldn't have planned for that. It’s bittersweet.

What were you surprised to learn from your 2020 Wrapped?

I couldn't believe how many countries were tuning in! I only have two songs out! That's crazy. That inspired me the most. People who I've never met, are in South America and Southeast Asia, listening to my voice on their phones and on their computers. That's inspiring me. I want to get in front of them and meet as many of them as I can.

Your music helped make a very difficult year more bearable for your fans. Have you gotten any messages from them thanking you?

I can't think of any one person or any one comment in specific. There were so many. A lot of people have reached out showing their love and support, which has really warmed my heart. And yeah, it has been a crazy year, but music is the one constant. I think we can all agree on that. Music will keep us happy and together. We’re in this together.

glaive's 2020 Wrapped

glaive's 2020 Wrapped

Spotify for Artists: You’re 15 years old and only started dropping music in July of last year but have nearly a quarter million monthly listeners now — that’s quite a feat. Do you remember when you first hit 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify this year?

glaive: I do remember. It was crazy. I never expected that many people to be listening to my music and to see 100k monthly listeners is insane. You can’t really explain the feeling. That day my family went to Wendy’s to celebrate. Whenever I hit a big milestone we get fast food.

As of this conversation, "astrid" has over a million plays on Spotify. Did you expect it to blow up like this when you made it?

“astrid” is doing extremely well, I did not expect it. I made that song in half an hour and I thought it was good and catchy but I definitely did not expect it to be as big as it is.

What were you surprised to learn from your 2020 Wrapped? Which stat blew your mind and why?

The hours that people listen [to my music] was like “woah” because that’s a lot of hours and it’s shocking.

Your music helped fans cope with 2020. Have they expressed their gratitude to you?

I’ve gotten so many amazing DMs. So many people say that COVID was awful but then I found out about your music. It’s just awesome that in such an annoying and weird and depressing time, that me and my friend’s music has made people feel better. It’s sick and cool.

Emanuel's 2020 Wrapped

Emanuel's 2020 Wrapped

Spotify for Artists: You have about 500K monthly listeners now, do you remember when you first hit 100K monthly listeners on Spotify this year? That’s a major milestone. How did it feel?

Emanuel: I remember the day my friend/brother/producer told me we had over 100K monthly listeners. It was overwhelming, I was filled with extreme gratitude. He and I both came from the basement together, it was a special moment. I have so much appreciation for everyone that taps in to my music. That day I was left grateful for the abundance of blessings me and my team get to reap.

Your track "Need You" was accompanied by a video directed by Idris Elba and has over 4 million plays on Spotify. Did you think it would connect with people the way it has when you wrote and recorded it?

When I’m creating music, in the back of my mind I am always hopeful that the song will have legs and a purpose — and that people will find release in it. When me and my team made “Need You” we knew it was special! I don’t think I’ve ever tried to predict any specific number but we are proud to see how well “Need You” has done so far.

Why do you think the song resonates with people so much?

My production team did an amazing job bringing the theme of the record to life. “Need You” is about love, it’s about a deep yearning for love. I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling.

What were you surprised to learn from your 2020 Wrapped? Which stat blew your mind and why?

It was mind-blowing to find out that music has been listened to for over 394.1K hours! That’s over 30 years! That’s insane, I’m 27 and the idea of that is mind-blowing. Also, to know that 92 countries pressed play on us is an amazing feeling. I hope to see all of those countries before we finish our work!

Have you gotten any messages from fans thanking you for your music in 2020?

We’ve had so many wonderful messages pouring in from all over the world! All of the love is overwhelming! I thank God for all of the love and support! Recently someone told me that my music helped them get through the loss of someone very close to them. As an artist, and channel and a messenger, that means the world to me. I’ll never forget these moments.

– Spotify for Artists

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