How TV Became the New Radio for Emerging Artists

Last summer, a study made by New York University Steinhart Music Business Program reported that terrestrial radio has failed to connect with Generation Z — people born after 1995 — who have grown up in an on-demand digital environment. Consumers who are 13 and up no longer look to radio as a music discovery tool and instead take to digital services like YouTube and Spotify to find new artists. Digital streaming platforms have allowed new artists access to a wide range of consumers, but the downside is that it can be hard to distinguish their music from the thousands of songs released every day. This is where television comes in.

The beauty about shows like Atlanta and Insecure, outside of the compelling writing and storytelling, is the music featured on the show. The music isn’t just a placeholder but rather a conduit; a way to magnify a feeling or emotion tied to a situation the viewer is watching. Usually, the artists featured are burgeoning upstarts who aren’t well known. Because of this, a lot of the audience is listening to these artists for the first time. Taking over where radio left off, television has become an important outlet for new artists to gain attention to their music on a mass scale. The emphasis of new artists’ music is also encouraged because clearing songs for use from bigger or illustrious artists are extremely difficult.

“I went from averaging like 5,000 views a day on YouTube to 15,000 a day or more.” — Rico Nasty

Look at Rico Nasty, a 22-year-old rapper whose life changed after her single, “Poppin,” was featured on Insecure, season 2, episode 3 “Hella Open.” This episode concluded with “Poppin” playing while the credits came on with the viewers’ full focus on the record. It was an exclamation mark following the last scene of the episode where Issa Rae’s character triumphantly took control of her sex life. The exposure made Nasty’s song a viral hit.

“I went from averaging like 5,000 views a day on YouTube to 15,000 a day or more,” Rico Nasty explains. “The video [for “Poppin”] went crazy. Television is kind of like their version of a music video and that’s why I think it’s more effective. Because when someone watches a show and it’s a song playing in the background, when it really hits you, that’s when you look shit up. Like, ‘Wow, I can really relate to this moment, to this song, to this scene’ and It really helps the person get a full idea of a song.” VIA

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