Up-and-Coming Musicians You Need to Check Out on Spotify

Photo and Graphic by Diana Noko

Photo and Graphic by Diana Noko

Written by Briggy Jones

These days it seems like there are so many artists arising from the misty corners of Apple music, Soundcloud, YouTube, and more. Once they start to get views and listens, a lot make it to Spotify! 

It’s really incredible how technology has shaped the way that music is being consumed. Spotify was first launched in 2008 when I was in eighth grade. I used to listen to Spotify whenever I could after school.

The smallest names on there were usually people who were just starting out in the industry after being on singing competition shows. 

Remember little Connie Talbot? She was on Britain’s Got Talent in 2007. That same year she put a whole cover album out with Rainbow Records, and it was added on Spotify. Yeah, now she’s eighteen and does mostly covers on her Spotify. 

She seems to be a little under the radar, but she is averaging 500,000 monthly listeners!

One way I like to discover new  artists on Spotify is going to ‘browse’ and then clicking on whichever mood or genre I’m looking for that day. It’s always changing, so their wide selection is incredibly helpful. 

I also like to look for the artists who have around 500,000 listeners or less, however there are some with a little more on this list. It seems that the artists with smaller numbers tend to have more unique alternative sounds. 

Here are some artists I’ve been listening to lately. Each of them have their own different alternative style and sound that you just have to hear for yourself. 

tUnE-yArDs  *394,515 monthly listeners  * worldbeat, art pop

This band consists of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner who have been working together for many years. 

For Merrill, performing has always been something she knew she would do. She started as a puppeteer for the Sandglass Theater in Vermont. She also played ukulele in the band Sister Suvi.

When they released their first album in 2008, entitled BiRd-BrAiNs, it was recorded on a cassette tape. In late 2009, they were signed to 4AD.

Between their vocal heavy, impressive lo-fi percussion, and random instruments, their style cannot be matched. I don’t have anyone to compare them to because they’re so unique. 

In their band, Merrill takes charge of the vocals, percussion, and ukulele, while Nate plays the bass. They also tour with some other musicians who assist with added vocals, percussion, and saxophone.  

Their style might not be for everyone, but I can guarantee it will make anyone ask a lot of questions. The fast paced bass is very stimulating, while the interesting vocals come so raw and thought provoking. 

tUnE-yArDs’ song Gangsta has been used in several TV shows including Orange Is the New Black, Weeds, and The Good Wife. 

half alive  * 1,669,167 monthly listeners  * indie pop, dance pop

Want some music to get your blood pumping? This is definitely the one for you. 

Half alive doesn’t describe the way you will feel when you click on the song ok ok? 

Josh Taylor is the lead singer for this band, Brett Kramer is the drummer, and J Tyler Johnson is the bassist. They formed half alive in 2016 and released The Fall as their first single on April 24, 2017. Now, Josh had been the lead singer of The Moderates, but they disbanded around the same time that he started half alive.

They are respected for their songwriting, choreography, and performance. 

This group has the most monthly views on this list, so obviously they are the most popular. Beyond that, they have the most ‘pop’ of a style on the list. However the genre they fall under is definitely not pop. 

They have a very indie style that has hints of American vintage influence and colorful retro-modern feels to their music videos. 

Fake Laugh *  79,117 monthly listeners  * alternative, indie

I have to tell you; ‘70-’80’s music is definitely my feel good music. It’s what I listen to when I’m having a really good day and I want those feelings to wash over me in the form of music. Namely, Bread. Bread has got to be one of my favorite bands from the ‘60-’80’s. 

Fake Laugh takes me right back to those Bread vibes. They have a lot of elements that sound just like American 1960’s, but they also somehow sound modern. 

Granted, retro is coming back into fashion, but it still sounds so fresh. 

Fake Laugh consists of just Kamran Khan who is from London, England and is currently performing mostly out of London. 

His style is signed with melancholy lyrics, light harmonies, and a leading bass and/or electric guitar. Some of his songs have some nice rhythm guitar, faint in the background, which gives the perfect amount of support along with the minimal drums. 

I have to say that I’m highly impressed with Fake Laugh because of how well put together his songs are. They are perfectly balanced, and though they mostly have the same feel to them, they all sound unique and stand well on their own. 

Jenny Lewis  * 544,158 monthly listeners  * folk rock, alternative country

This girl is an old soul with a voice of gold. She began singing and playing for Rilo Kiley from 1998-2011, but is on this list because she now goes solo and collaborates with other creatives.

She began her professional career in 1983 at the young age of six, when she was in a Jell-O commercial. After that, she starred in quite a few commercials and movies, most notably Golden Girls, Baywatch, Murder She Wrote, American Dad! and A Very Murray Christmas. 

Despite her long history in Hollywood and connections in the industry, she still remains somewhat under the radar. 

Her music consists of a good mix of upbeat rock songs and slower paced folkish songs. Her voice really takes me back to the 70’s and the types of music that were popular back then. 

Though it has a very retro feel to it, she keeps her current releases fresh and new, which I can really appreciate. 

Shafiq Husayn  * 94,972 monthly listeners  * neo-soul 

Shafiq Husayn is a musician based in Los Angeles, California. 

He began his music career as a member of Nile Kings, who were signed to Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate/Sony Records

Some of Husayn’s accomplishments include winning a BBC WorldWide Music Award in 2004 and winning a 2013 Grammy (Robert Glasper-Black Radio 2013 R&B Album of the Year).

He not only writes music, but also produces. I’ve noticed that he collaborates with a lot of other creatives, and every time he does, it’s such a beautiful sound. 

Shafiq’s favorite signature on his music is adding instruments and vibes from all over the world. 

Instruments featured in his music include, but are not limited to, Brazilian drums, Fela‐Kuti style horns, floaty, choir style vocals, and bouncy bass.

Dounia  * 553,136  * alt R&B

Dounia Tazi actually began her professional career as a model for Forever 21, Sephora, and Refinery29. 

As she made connections through her jobs and Instagram, she funded her desire to write, record, and produce her own music. 

She plays the guitar and sings on all of her albums.

Her music is very heavy in vocals and harmonies, which isn't rare, but how she executes it is a definite mood worthy of dancing. 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to her a lot while I’m doing my hair, makeup, or self care activities. Her female positive lyrics allow me to focus on myself and really enjoy being unapologetically me. 

I find myself embracing the things I love about myself. For me, when I listen to someone’s music, I want to be gaining something. With Dounia’s music, I definitely feel that. 

Final thoughts

Exploring Spotify for new artists in various genres is something I like to do when I have mindless tasks to accomplish. It creates such a relaxing and stimulating environment. It really lets my stress melt away and my mind wander. 

Let me know in the comments who I need to check out on Spotify, and if you also enjoy listening to any of these incredible musicians. Amazing musicians are everywhere, in every corner of the world, just waiting to be discovered!

Happy listening,


Briggy Jones looking out window pondering

briggy jones

Brigetta (Briggy) Jones is an easy-going, art loving boy mom and dog mom. She loves to make music with her trusty guitar, cook vegan food, and write. She enjoys farm life at her home and exploring the city of Dallas with her husband and son. Briggy joined The Quiet Nonsense team to focus her skills and passions into a platform to engage with her readers in a personal way. One day she hopes to have her artwork displayed all over the world.