Every day, Spotify users discover a song, artist, or genre from outside their home countries. Whether that’s through their Discover Weekly, a friend’s recommendation, or another Spotify-curated playlist, folks are stepping outside of their comfort zones to get to know artists from a different place. These songs and artists can take listeners to another world—metaphorically. Music is a great connector that allows us to understand and experience a life or culture beyond our own.
We’ve found that over 60% of Spotify users discovered an artist from a country outside their own within the last 28 days. So just imagine what they’ve uncovered over the course of a few months, or even the year. That’s a world of travel and learning—sans passport.
On For the Record this year, we’ve also explored artists and genres from around the world, taking note of the songs and styles that have crossed borders. Hear from some of the artists, musicians, and experts we spoke to below.
Ed Maverick, who comes from the northern state of Chihuahua, Mexico, didn’t grow up in a musical family but learned to play guitar by watching videos and playing in norteño groups—(norteño is a genre of music popular in the region he comes from)—throughout middle school. His style evolved through playing covers of songs by his favorite bands, such as those by Mexican indie rockers Little Jesus. But neither style of music suited what he wanted to do, so he decided to strike out on his own; he eventually started composing his own songs. “I felt the need to release what was going on in my mind,” he said.
“Shepparton has the largest indigenous population in Victoria outside of Melbourne. It also has the largest indigenous population in Victoria per capita. So there was always a presence, and it was always just a part of us and what we did and still do. We just operated as artists and rappers. You don’t really realize how different you are until it’s presented to you.” – Briggs
“What we are seeing with reggaetón in Chile is a great testimony to the absolute powerhouse that is Latin America when it comes to building and delivering audiences for Latin artists,” said Mia Nygren, Managing Director for Spotify in Latin America.
“A lot of things influence my sound, from listening to traditional Indonesian music to the stuff I listened to while spending full days on the internet making videos. Living internationally definitely influenced my attitude towards everything positively. I’m very grateful for everything that I have now, and things just never get old for me—each new experience feels like a blessing.” – Rich Brian
“I was fortunate to see the impact of kwaito music and what it meant for the then-young democracy that South Africa was. It became the voice of local youth to push for systematic change and fight the exclusion of the marginalized. I can’t help but think that AmaPiano is doing just that so far for this generation of young South Africans, and I can’t wait to see how many more boundaries it’ll break.” – Da Kruk
The European market has been turned on to Capps’s quirky brand of country too. “According to my statistics on Spotify, it seems like a lot of people in the Netherlands and Spain are discovering my music through the program,” he says. “And I’m excited to keep writing and finding ways to reach audiences.” – Garrett T. Capps
“I’m not sure if it’s too much to call ourselves the Arctic Monkeys of Spotify. I feel like our international breakthrough came about because of Spotify—the way streams in the Nordics and Germany pushed an unknown act into the global top 50 with a song that wasn’t available outside of the Nordics and GSA. It was a trippy ride, and luckily we’ve landed on the other side without losing our minds.” – Lukas Graham
In the span of just a year, Toni Watson has leapfrogged from working retail to busking full time to topping the charts in almost a dozen countries—including her native Australia. That’s all thanks to “Dance Monkey,” the viral smash that was the second-ever single for the artist best known as Tones And I.
Nobody ever needed to explain western wear to Wall, who was raised in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada. “It’s predominantly cattle country,” he shares. “My last full-time gig I had before I started playing music for a living was working cows with my cousin on a thousand-head cattle ranch.”
Since the release of Cry, Cigarettes After Sex’s momentum has continued to snowball; the band is now closing in on 4.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. They’re also continuing to find success in new territories. Within a month of Spotify’s February 2019 launch in India, the country leapt into Cigarettes After Sex’s top ten markets. This popularity translated offline: In May, when the band announced two late-July Mumbai shows via a local promoter’s mailing list, they drew 30,000 sign-ups within just a few hours, causing the list to shut down.
Take a listen to Spotify’s Global Top 50 for the songs rocking the international charts.