Apple may be preparing for a major revamp of its Apple Music streaming service this summer, but that’s not stopping it introducing new features in the meantime.

This week, for example, Apple Music got a new spotlight for emerging artists in the UK: New Artist of the Week. First to get the nod is British artist Laurel with her song ‘San Francisco’. For now, this appears to be a UK-only initiative.


Here’s how Apple explains the new feature, which will see a new artist spotlighted every Friday:

“Each week, our editors handpick one emerging act as our New Artist of the Week. Underground MCs and cutting edge producers on the rise. Pop prodigies en route to chart domination. The next generation of indie heroes. Lavishly gifted singer/songwriters. No stone or scene will be left unturned.”

It’s a good move for Apple Music, in a streaming market where services are keen to prove to labels that they can help break new artists – as well as promising fans that they’ll be a good place to discover those emerging acts.

Apple Music already has a playlist – The A-List: New Artists – devoted to this area, while its Beat 1 station has made a habit of playing new artists too: for example, the very first track played on Beats 1 by Zane Lowe was by unsigned band Spring King.

Rivals are also trying to prove their credentials in breaking new tracks and artists. Spotify has its Discover Weekly personalised playlist, as well as its recently-launched Fresh Finds playlists, which aim to pick up on songs using data from tastemakers and music blogs.

It also picked a range of new artists for its Spotlight on 2016 initiative, which will promote them across the year, and has worked with labels to break new acts globally – most recently, Danish band Lukas Graham.

Tidal may be owned by megastars, but it’s trying to break new artists too through its Tidal Discovery scheme, which gets unsigned artists to upload their songs to its platform in the hope of being featured in monthly playlists. It also has Tidal Rising, which spotlights emerging artists on its service.

Vevo has its LIFT initiative; Google Play has launched a ‘Milk’ scheme for emerging artists… Across the board, streaming services want to show they can help new acts be heard.

With 13 million subscribers, Apple Music’s new slot is likely to see labels scrambling to get their artists featured. We’ll be interested to see what kind of exclusivity (if any) is part of the initiative, and what kind of uplift it gives the artists that benefit.

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