Blusher performs during the RADAR Artist Showcase & Party at Spotify House during SXSW Sydney on October 19, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images for Spotify)

At SXSW Sydney, RADAR, EQUAL, and K-Music Take Over Spotify House

For the first time in its history, Austin’s iconic South By Southwest (SXSW) festival expanded beyond its Texas watering hole and traveled all the way to Australia for SXSW Sydney. Fashioned as the Asia-Pacific extension of the original event, SXSW Sydney took place over eight days and included a series of creative sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and more. And you can bet Spotify was along for the ride.

We took over Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel and transformed it into Spotify House across four days. During the day, it was the place to be for panels, networking sessions, and fireside chats. At night, Spotify House became a live-music venue with performances by a stellar line-up of artists from across the Asia-Pacific region. Spotify House was an opportunity to highlight some of our artist-first programs, like RADAR and EQUAL, as well as feature popular genres like K-hip-hop.

On our RADAR

We introduced our latest group of up-and-coming artists during a special RADAR showcase: Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, Vv Pete, and Blusher

“We are so grateful to be Spotify Australia’s new RADAR artist! We cannot believe the amazing support that we have received so far,” exclaimed the band members of Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers. “We have absolutely loved seeing new people all over the world listening to us little Teeny Jeanies and we really can’t thank Spotify enough!”

RADAR is our global emerging artist program that supports rising artists, and that includes RADAR Australia and New Zealand, both of which we launched in 2020. Since then, we’ve played a significant role in helping regional artists like PANIA, merci, mercy, CHAII, Genesis Owusu, Youngn Lipz, Baker Boy, grentperez, Larissa Lambert, and Royel Otis cross over into international markets.

The response from a sold-out crowd deeply moved the artists. “We started making music in our bedrooms, and support from Spotify has made it possible to play our music to audiences all over the world,” shared Blusher. “Seeing new listeners connect with our project, being able to share not just our songs but our creative vision through visuals and playlists of the music that inspires us, makes us so excited to bring people into the Blusher world that we’re creating.”

It wasn’t just high-energy performances that amplified RADAR. Hannah Beeching, Spotify’s Lead for Global Music Program RADAR, spoke to industry veterans Andrew Klippel, Artist & Label Manager for Ourness Label, and Mardi Caught, founder of The Annex, a music marketing company, as part of the “RADAR Across Borders” session. “RADAR artists have been added to over 5,000 Spotify playlists since the program launched in 2020, and more than half of these artists have gone on to be added to more playlists in over 10 markets around the world,” Hannah remarked during the talk. 

Making music EQUAL

Women artists in the region were center stage for a wide-ranging discussion on identity, making noise, being heard, and establishing equity in music. 

EQUAL is Spotify’s program that aims to make women more visible in music through on- and off-platform support. “EQUAL was born in 2021 because of a very harsh reality that women are underrepresented in music,” explained Bel Aztiria, Lead of Global Music Programs, Social, and Equity at Spotify, during the panel. “Less than 25% of artists, less than 13% of songwriters, and just 3% of producers are women. These are very harsh numbers—we know that equity is a social issue. It is very complex and we know that we cannot do it alone.”

In 2023, Spotify generated 10 million artist discoveries from EQUAL playlists, and since 2021, EQUAL artists received nearly 1 billion editorial streams combined within the first month of joining the program.

“Locally, whenever we’re putting a woman in EQUAL or on our First Nations playlist, we are also adding them to the wider ecosystem to provide an opportunity to reach a new and wider audience,” said Esther Shewry, Spotify Artist & Label Partnerships EQUAL Lead for Australia & New Zealand.

We continued the conversation later in the day during “Women at Full Volume,” which featured Alethea Beetson, Spotify Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Lead; Cat Stratton of the duo Cat & Calmell; and Sarah Sim, Artist & Label Partnerships Lead, Spotify Southeast Asia. Moderated by award-winning music journalist Sosefina Fuamoli, the session explored what equity actually means through various cultural lenses and how women in the music industry can make their mark.

That evening, the Spotify House stage transformed into an EQUAL talent showcase featuring performances by Jem Cassar-Daley, Charley, Tkay Maidza, and MILLI. “I am thrilled to perform at Spotify House. It was such a good crowd, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with new audiences who might enjoy my music,” said MILLI. The Thai rapping sensation performed her top hit “The Weekend,” as well as fan favorite “Mango Sticky Rice.”

Kossy Ng, Head of Music for Southeast Asia, remarked on the performances: “It has been amazing to bring together so much talent from across the Asia-Pacific region this week. MILLI is already renowned in Thailand and a rising star in many markets, but now we could properly showcase her to Australia—and what a show it was.”

More Korean music moves beyond Korea

One big focus during SXSW was music coming out of Korea, which was illuminated during our K-night showcase. So!YoON!, JUNNY, and Sam Kim each performed and proved exactly why genres like K-Pop are resonating far beyond the region.

“The popularity of Korean music and culture around the world—as witnessed in Australia this time—will only continue to grow,” said Jungjoo Park, Head of Music at Spotify Korea. “It has been so great to bring out some Korean artists to Spotify House in Sydney so they can perform for their fans in the region and be introduced to new audiences, too. We’re excited for what comes next for Korean music and to unveil more Korean artists to the world.” 

Korea’s influence in music was central during our “Hallyu (Korean wave)” session, which featured Jungjoo, as well as Live Nation Australasia’s Wenona Lok, and Virgin Music’s Claire Tate. The three discussed the explosion of Korean music across the world and the exciting growth that’s still to come. 

To close our time in Sydney, K-hip-hop sensation Huh—featured along with New Zealand’s lilbubblegum and promising Korean-Australian group 1300—wowed the audience during our hop-hop–themed night. His performance demonstrated exactly why Korea is becoming just as famous for hip-hop as it is for K-Pop. “I have loved seeing my music enjoyed in so many places around the world thanks to Spotify,” said Huh. “Bringing K-hip-hop to Spotify House next to fellow hip-hop artists from here has been so cool. It really motivates me even more to grow as an artist.” 

Revisit the fun had at the Spotify House during SXSW Sydney with our official event playlist.