It’s no secret that 2016 wasn’t the best year by anyone’s standards, especially for the music industry which now grieves the loss of so many iconic figures. However, the glass is not merely half-empty, there’s a fullness here too thanks to the overwhelming amount of new artists, bands, songs, EPs and albums that we’ve had at our disposal. Enough has been said on the hierarchy of last year’s releases, so we’re taking our look inward to the successes of HumanHuman throughout 2016, from start to finish.
Building on our community’s efforts from 2015, we had 22,586 artist discoveries - that’s more than double the previous year’s attempt of 9,793. We also had 21,690 individual agrees and 19,868 comments from our users, some of which came from the 863 new members who signed up in 2016. What’s quite possibly the most impressive number on our books is the 282 confirmed Promising Artists, including Maggie Rogers, Skott, Jorja Smith, WILDES, Kiiara, IDER, Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, Jadu Heart, The Hour, Terror Jr and Whitney.
This year HumanHuman also took to the real world for our first showcase at the incredible event space Born In Antwerp. We invited three standout Promising Artists, Matt Maltese, Hanging Valleys and ROCH to play our debut live event in Belgium.
We’re sure that 2017 has plenty of new music discoveries in store for us, so before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take one final look back at the most notable moments of 2016.
With an astonishing sixty agrees from our community of tastemakers, Maggie Rogers is undoubtedly 2016’s most agreed on Promising Artist. We’ve already catalogued plenty about Rogers, her music and the awesome origin story that began well before Pharrell-gate, as evidenced by the fact that she was discovered two years ago by New York blogger Oblivious Pop. Originally from Maryland, Rogers emerged from a folk music background (something we heard in full focus as recently as 2014’s Blood Ballet EP), before finding a passion for the electronic music scene during an academic term abroad in France. Returning to New York University meant applying this new love to an old one - electronics and folk, synthesizers and banjos. It’s an unlikely pairing that Rogers achieved to drug-like effect in “Alaska”. Since then, the refreshing musician has followed up with the equally brilliant “Dog Years” and a perfectly suited music video which made it into our Best Music Videos of 2016 list. Rogers really did own 2016, beating runners-up Skott (43 agrees), Jorja Smith (40 agrees), WILDES (39 agrees) and IDER (38 agrees). - HT
When last year’s second most agreed artist Kiiara unleashed her debut single “Gold” in the summer of 2015, Thomas Konings was quick to the spot (by 54 seconds according to user Roelheid) to make the discovery, and rightly so. Kiiara’s ascent into pop stardom has been a force to be reckoned with. “Gold” has been streamed over 333 million times on Spotify alone. Her debut EP, low kii savage, is packed with fierce, glittery pop bangers and the number of new Last.fm listeners has skyrocketed from 0 to over 100,000 since her feature on HumanHuman. This is proof that the HumanHuman community’s ability to spot the superstars of tomorrow before anyone else is second to none. At second place for our Most Trending Feature are another two indomitable names of 2016, Dua Lipa who gained more than 98,000 listeners and taking third place is last year’s Quickest Riser Alessia Cara who continued to rack up those listeners, 96,000 to be exact. - DS
At HumanHuman, we’re rather proud of our users’ quick response time to new artists and songs that suddenly appear online, and it’s often a race to be the primary discoverer. You’ll see a fair few proclamations of despair as users are beaten to the finish line by a few minutes, seconds even. The category of Fastest Feature is all about time as we clock in the time that a new find rapidly ascends to the status of Promising Discovery. In 2016, two noteworthy speed-demons were Kakou, whose debut alt-pop (and still only existing) song “Live In This Moment” shot them to Promising Discovery, and faceless post-R&B force The Hour, who drew us in with a video for debut “No One Is Going To Heaven” and an open Q&A via a burner phone. Of course, it only took 24 hours 32 minutes 28 seconds to affirm The Hour as promising. It’s interesting that both Kakou and The Hour are mysterious projects that maintain their anonymity, a trait also shared by the official fastest feature Jadu Heart. They’ve kept their identity hidden with distractingly colourful artwork in the place of press photos and even those lucky enough to see this enticing duo perform live will have their curiosity blocked by animalistic masks. Capturing the attention of discovery expert Deep Shah with their surprise EP release, Wanderflower, it didn’t take long for our community to catch on. In just 17 hours 57 minutes 47 seconds, Jadu Heart’s impact has been instantaneous. - HT
It’s difficult to tell when or even if an artist is going to blow up, but when it comes to our esteemed users at HumanHuman, it’s safe to say that we have a pretty strong idea of the who, well before it happens. That’s exactly the case with Chicago based indie-rock duo Whitney who was discovered by Jonathan Chin just one year before being affirmed as a Promising Discovery. Since rising through the ranks a year ago with 1.6K listeners, the pair (comprising of former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kackacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich) have gone onto release their critically-acclaimed debut album Light Upon the Lake via Secretly Canadian. Whitney have been the band to see live this year and have amassed over 58,000 new listeners!
Narrowly missing out on the top spot by under a thousand listeners is Maggie Rogers whose debut single “Alaska” was an instant hit and bagged her a place on the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist. With just under 50K new listeners and sitting pretty in third place is trap-pop trio Terror Jr who first burst onto the scene with “3 Strikes” which soundtracked that Kylie Jenner advert. - DS
It’s no surprise that our Most Agreed On Discovery is also the Most Discussed, especially considering the viral presence of Maggie Rogers across the Internet. Looking in detail at some of the thirty comments left on her HumanHuman page, some of our users questioned whether the online hype was to be taken at face value. This conversation was sparked by Rick Moreno (owner of Duly Noted Records) who reminded us that “Alaska” is just a song. Rogers herself stated in a Pitchfork interview that “Ultimately, Pharrell is only one pair of ears.” Another steady opinion was made by Italian blog Going Solo: “If the same song were uploaded on Soundcloud by a Norwegian act without a huge push by a famous musician, I'm quite sure that we would have had only few blogs to post about this track.” We’ve definitely seen how major artist endorsement can propel an emerging talent’s career, but that’s not the only factor at play here. As NYC-based user Missy argued, “Even if her next track doesn't live up to Alaska, for me, I'm agreeing with how it's such a great tune, with such a story behind it.” This was clearly a small part of a much larger discussion about the interplay between mainstream and lesser-known musicians, how they can help or hinder one another. Although there’s no real resolution to this complex topic, when it comes to the 2016 breakthrough Maggie Rogers, we can safely agree with the measured views of Belgian music reviewer Disco Naïveté who quite rightly said, “she's off to a great start but has yet to prove her real value as a career artist”, and Australian pop authority musicthatwelike “Think she has some great long term potential. Maybe not as a popstar, but in the indie charts for real.” - HT
Discovering and sharing new music is what HumanHuman is all about, so none of the brilliant Promising Artists mentioned here would be possible without the users who discovered them. For a second consecutive year, Vancouver-based discoverer Hillydilly leads the pack once more with a staggering fifty-one Promising Discoveries including the likes of A. K. Paul, Klangstof, Jorja Smith and more throughout the course of the year. Let’s put that into perspective for you, out of the 280 Promising Discoveries this year, roughly a sixth are courtesy of Hillydilly. Of course, we can’t forget this year’s runners-up, The Indie Curator with an impressive thirty-eight promising finds, Going Solo with twenty-eight, Yne, Niels Bruwier and Disco Naïveté all with ten discoveries, musicthatwelike with eight features Wonky Sensitive with seven, and finally Thomas Konings and Sodwee with six promising discoveries each. That wraps up our top ten best users, but like we said, there’s many more users who have contributed to our database of current and future talent. - DS
Over the past twelve months, HumanHuman welcomed over 850 new faces to join our community in discovering and sharing the best new talents. Giving those heavyweights a run for their money, newcomers such as UK music curator and radio producer Talia whose penchant for pop earnt her 163 reputation points (which is the sum of her agree and discovery points) or Belgian music head Thomas Wouters who gained 178 points this year alone. However, with a reputation score of 215, the standout performance came from self-proclaimed “brown dude” who’s “addicted to sound” Jince. This New York based music addict discovered the likes of EBOHNI, Ruby Empress, Starley and many more distinguished finds throughout 2016. - DS
In the last year, we introduced a new aspect to HumanHuman which is of course our Feedback Tool. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s a promotional platform whereby artists and/or their representatives can send their music to our users with the questions they want answering. It’s an entirely private system; an exchange of advice from the honest listener; a litmus test for a musician’s sound whether it’s already fully fledged or still in the developmental stages. Throughout 2016, we had 939 feedback requests, with 3,345 questions, resulting in 76,030 words of feedback. For a little context, that’s 214 pages!
Here we want to thank those users for taking the time to provide their opinions, tokens of advice, ideas for change and constructive criticism. Like our top ten respondents: Camels & Lions, Indie Pop-Ups, H.E.T, musicthatwelike, Deep Shah, Disco Naïveté, Senne, HighClouds, Sodwee and our number one Feedback Star is Going Solo with 6,966 words. - HT
1. Spotlight on Sweden’s Emerging Artists
2. A conversation with Albin Lee Meldau
3. Spotlight on Switzerland’s Emerging Artists
4. The Importance of Album Artwork
5. Exploring Post-Internet Music
6. Women in Music: A Year in Action
7. Spotlight on Scotland’s Emerging Artists
8. A conversation with Dahlia Sleeps
9. Spotlight on France’s Emerging Artists
10. Ones to Watch: Hip-hop
Over the past twelve months, the written content at HumanHuman has continued to delve deeper into the music industry, with longreads covering topics such as Exploring Post-Internet Music, The Importance of Album Artwork, Cassette Culture and Alternative Ways to Support Musicians. That’s not to mention our monthly overviews looking at the top five Promising Discoveries and in-depth interviews with musicians and users alike. In lieu with our community spirit, we also saw a lot more guest articles this year, including Thomas Konings’ Is PC Music Still Relevant?, Alex Treharne’s Is Go the Way Forward For SoundCloud? and of course, a series of location-based features spotlighting talent from Scotland, Canada, France, Sweden and Switzerland. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to say that the most read article of 2016 is Discobelle’s Spotlight on Sweden’s Emerging Artists which introduced us to the likes of Aron McFaul, HELH, Blondino and more off-piste acts. - DS
To finish, here’s shout out to all the amazing people who made HumanHuman possible this year. A special thank you to Lyor, Hannah, Djamel, Deep, Pieter, Bastien, Adam, Camille, Edvige, Marc, Matthew, Alex, Ben, Thomas, Stephen, Simon, Martin, Julien, Yacine, Phil, Robert, Jarri and Senne.