How Spotify is helping PH artists like Zack Tabudlo, SB19, and BGYO go global

Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2021 08:16 PM

BGYO, Zack Tabudlo, and SB19 are among the RADAR Philippines artists of Spotify. Spotify Philippines
BGYO, Zack Tabudlo, and SB19 are among the RADAR Philippines artists of Spotify. Spotify Philippines

MANILA — Zack Tabudlo, SB19, and BGYO are among the Filipino music acts whose releases are being amplified by Spotify to expand their listener base globally.

What they have in common: being part of the platform’s RADAR, which aims to “help up-and-coming artists in all the stages of their career to be able to connect with new audiences.”

Launched in 2020, RADAR is described as a “global emerging artists program,” whose goal is to introduce local music acts to international listeners.

Artists are selected to join the program, based on “a combination of data and the music team’s expertise and decision-making,” according to Kossy Ng, Spotify’s Head of Music in Asia.

“We look at the potential of these artists,” she said. “Are there export opportunities alongside the data set that we have? And, of course, understanding the local music landscape [helps] guide our decision.”

Ng spoke with ABS-CBN News in a joint interview with Tabudlo, whose debut album “Episode” was released on October 15, with Spotify pushing its global visibility through RADAR.

Tabudlo marked a first for Filipino RADAR talents with his New York Times Square billboard feature in late July, and having reached the program’s Global playlist.

“That was a big moment for us, because we wanted to showcase emerging artists from across the world on the global stage. Music is meant to be discovered,” Ng said.

That Tabudlo’s album includes English aside from Filipino tracks lends to a broader appeal for international listeners, Ng pointed out. The same applies for other acts selected to be part of RADAR.

“It makes it a lot more accessible for audiences who may not understand Tagalog. There’s an array of English that is available for people to listen to as well,” she said.

Referring to Tabuldo, Ng added, “This program is just giving him the springboard to access new audiences to help him get to the next level of his career.”

Tabudlo currently has 2.3 million monthly listeners of Spotify, and in the past year posted a 2,500% increase in streams on the platform. That includes an expanding listener base overseas, notably in the US, Canada, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan.

The former “The Voice Kids” finalist had earlier gone viral with his single “Binibini” in March. For Spotify, that was the perfect opportunity to lead new listeners to more content from Tabudlo.

“We just basically fueled the growth of that track,” Ng said. “It was nice that leading up to the launch of his new album, we got people to discover the entire collection of his work. We just amplified the messages that he was trying to say through his lyrics, to also help him connect to the younger generations of today.”

The same commitment has been made to Tabudlo’s RADAR peers SB19 and BGYO. In the Philippines, other emerging acts currently in the program are Arthur Nery, Alamat, Alisson Shore, of Mercury, Rob Deniel, Nobrvnd, Peaceful Gemini, syd hartha, Ace Banzuelo, August Wahh, Elle Sebastian, allen&elle, and Alex Bruce.

“There is a huge pool of talent in the Philippines,” said Ng, who was part of the team that launched Spotify locally in 2014. “Since then, we’ve seen a tremendous growth in young talents. We never know where we might find the next talent that’s going to blow up.”

“We want to make sure we expose as many Filipino artists as possible,” she added. “So, you’d see, even through curation, we are programming playlists like Fresh Finds that serves to unearth new musicians who are coming up, across all genres.”

Beyond being a springboard of sorts for RADAR artists’ music debut, Spotify described the program as a “long-term commitment” that will push its roster to be more visible and allow them to have deeper interactions with fans through the platform.

“We continue to work towards album moments. It doesn’t end here,” Ng said. “It could be the next single, or the tracks in the album. We’re just basically committed to try to build audiences for our RADAR artists over a long period of time.”

Tabudlo’s Times Square billboard, for instance, is a milestone that’s within reach for his contemporaries in the program.

Asked for advice for young musicians who hope to be heard globally, like Tabudlo, Ng said: “I think the good news is that — we’ve done some research — the younger audiences today are really passionate about supporting local, budding artists. The support is definitely there.

“I would say, continue to make good music, and then continue to get your music out there. At some point, be it a big break or be it a fan that discovers you halfway across the world, I think the platform is just there to provide that access for you to get your music heard.

“Keep at what you do. Music should be at the core of everything. A good piece of music will be picked up anywhere.”