It finally happened, the end of the year is here! We realise it was inevitable, but as we look back over this exceptionally good year at HumanHuman, we can’t help but shed a tear as we wave goodbye to 2015.
So, what was so great about the last year? Well, there were 9,793 brand new discoveries (that averages out as 27 every day), 12,113 agrees from our community of music professionals and full-time enthusiasts, plus 13,014 comments discussing everything from a new single to watching a live performance to pinpointing cultural trends within the music industry. We also featured 199 emerging acts, including OKAY KAYA, Kiiara, Tsar B, Billie Eilish, Tender, Demo Taped, Abra, Lewis Del Mar, Vallis Alps and Ardyn - and that’s just the top ten!
Alongside all of the day-to-day action at HumanHuman, we also went through the process of becoming a real company in July (that was a pretty major highlight!) and launching our brand new website in November. Of course, none of this could be possible without the amazing online community who have made it their mission to discover and share their favourite new artists, so we’d like to send out a special thank you to each and every one of our users. You guys know who you are!
Before we turn our attention to the new year with all of its undiscovered finds and yet-to-be-featured artists, we’re taking you through the most notable moments of 2015.
Since OKAY KAYA’s feature eight months ago (that’s only one month after being discovered by Oblivious Pop) when the New York-via-Norway artist only had 6 listeners on Last.fm she’s continued to bring in new agrees right up until December. It seems that with each new release this indie star gains another bunch of fans. With tracks like the enticing debut “Clouds”, big hitter “Damn, Gravity” and latest single “I’m Stupid (But I Love You)”, penned by none other than fellow HumanHuman feature Tobias Jesso Jr., it’s not hard to see or hear why her appeal has been continuous.
There’s always one thing to consider before clicking agree on a discovery and that’s “will this discovery in your opinion become popular?” It’s a bet made on trusting your own music taste enough to think everyone else will agree too. Clearly, our community of enthusiasts has a talent for spotting breaking acts (and particularly for alt-pop female soloists) due to four of the top five most agreed on artists being OKAY KAYA, Kiiara, Billie Eilish and Tsar B - names that will continue to be on our radar throughout 2016.
The thing is an artist’s popularity extends beyond the annual parameters and Years & Years are a perfect example of this. They were first discovered a whole three years ago by Ryan Thompson and later featured one year and nine months ago following an explosion of support for their renovated brand of shiny UK dance-pop. Since the band’s inevitable feature their listener stats have quintupled from a respectable 10,384 listeners to a skyrocket number of 502,932. Really, there’s no greater confirmation of a band’s popularity and the HumanHuman community’s ability to spot these future superstars before anyone else. We’ve also had the great pleasure of watching other featured and confirmed artists grow over the past year, such as Sam Smith who gained more than 403k listeners and Alt-J who smashed it with an additional 398k listeners.
We can never predict how a discovery will perform at HumanHuman. It’s a fact that not all can be featured; some never get beyond the initial interest of a discoverer and some may only ever get a handful of agrees. Sometimes these finds take years to gain recognition, sometimes it’s months, weeks, days… but on the odd occasion there’s a new discovery which blows all others out of the water with a record breaking feature time. You might think the West Coast punk-rockers PARTYBABY did pretty well with a feature in 18 hours 47 minutes 17 seconds, or rather singer-songwriter Grace Lightman with a feature time of 11 hours 29 minutes 55 seconds, or how about Felix Snow-collaborator Kiiara who gave them all a run for their money by featuring in just 9 hours 1 minute 43 seconds after her discovery.
Well, there can only be one winner (for a lack of a better word) and that’s Vallis Alps who was discovered by Deep Shah and shot to a feature in 3 hours 16 minutes 32 seconds! The bi-continental duo (instrumentalist David hails from Seattle and vocalist Parissa hails from Canberra) now have 31 agrees and their rise has been well documented across the blogosphere. We particularly enjoyed Tripe J’s coverage of a band who were still figuring out how to be comfortable around each other, never mind how to actually play their music live!
One thing that was confirmed in 2015 is that our users have a keen sense for artists that are likely to break and it’s even better when those featured artists rise to fame shortly after HumanHuman have given them a thumbs up. That’s exactly what we saw with Alessia Cara, the cover singer turned pop sensation, who was successfully discovered by Yne eight months ago following the appearance of her debut single “Here”. The misfit anthem quickly became an international hit, which boosted the 19-year-old’s fanbase to 185k listeners.
The rising runners-up also show that it’s all about the quality not the quantity when it comes to making an impact. There’s clubber’s favourite Sigala who only has two (instantly recognisable) tracks “Easy Love” and “Sweet Lovin’” and pop sweetheart Hailee Steinfeld lead the way to her first EP with major hit “Flashlight”. Everyone might have jumped on the bandwagon early on in these artist’s careers, but our users are the one’s driving it.
The comments sections on our site are really where the HumanHuman community lives. It’s where you’ll find links to the latest songs and videos, enthusiastic exclamations of a new band crush, predictions for the future of an artist’s career and users encouraging each other to agree on a find they believe. One profile that attracted more comments than any other is White, the Glaswegian art-pop eccentrics who were discovered by Oblivious Pop.
It all started with some links to White’s YouTube channel and leading single “Future Pleasures” before the knowledgable Going Solo piped up with an interesting point about how some major labels (in this case, Sony) ask new signees to vacate free platforms like SoundCloud in favour of YouTube and Vimeo which supports advertising and therefore generates a small revenue for their artists and ultimately the label themselves. What followed was a flood of opinions from our most active users discussing the consequences of the major label’s decision, which we recommend you take a look at! The final comments reminds us of what’s really important - the music - as NYC blogger Obvlious Pop directs our attention towards White’s killer song “Ritual Blush”.
Of course, none of the awesome features we’ve just gone through would be possible without the users who take so much pride in discovering the best new music. One user who has managed to seek out more feature-worthy artists than anyone else is Hillydilly, who had 22 features throughout 2015. This Vancouver-based discoverer also runs his own blog called hillydilly.com which is an endless source of the ahead-of-the-curve music tips, such as Billie Eilish, Tender, Transviolet, Chinah and Samm Henshaw - all featured at HumanHuman! Let’s not forget our runners-up here, like The Indie Curator who has an impressive 21 featured finds, Thomas Konings with 13 features, Disco Naïveté with 10 features, plus Camels & Lions, Oblivious Pop and Bastien who all had 9 features this year.
One of the best ways of scouting out new acts at HumanHuman is to follow another user with either the same taste in music as you or those with a certain skill for cracking the industry’s future favourites. Coming in at the front of the pack is Disco Naïveté, who earned the most new followers in 2015. He’s also one of our longest-standing users and as we discovered in our interview with the Belgian tastemaker, he was instrumental in spreading the word about HumanHuman in our early days. Other members of HumanHuman’s most popular crew are Senne (well, it’s only right that our founder is in there!), The Indie Curator, Hillydilly and Going Solo. So, if you haven’t already started following some of our users, this gang would be a pretty good place to start.
2015 was a bumper year for us as we saw our ever-growing community double in size. These fresh faces gave the classes of previous HumanHuman users a run for their money as they brought more discoveries to the table and snatched up those precious reputation points, such as Jillis Mariën whose pop sensibility earnt him 110 points or Kurt Trowbridge with an eye for indie acts and 123 points. However, the standout performance came from British curator Crack in the Road whose carefully selected handful of discoveries (including The Japanese House, Bo Rocha, Grace Lightman and dePresno) raked in 133 reputation points and placed this talented newcomer as the 116th best discoverer.
A rather noticeable change at HumanHuman this year was our increase in written content, like our monthly overviews, interviews and longreads. We had no idea just how well received these articles would be, but we’re proud to say that our ‘Women in the Music Industry’ piece was the most read in 2015! It explored the pivotal role that women play in the business by asking musicians, bloggers, publicists, label owners etc. three simple questions: who are you? what changes have you seen in the music industry in regards to women? is there anything you would still like to change? We were also fortunate enough to acquire specially designed artwork from Slip on the Rock (aka Célestin) and was recently chosen by Going Solo as their best read of 2015.