YouTube Music today announced the 2021 cohort for Foundry, its global artist development program with a mission to support independent musicians, helping them build sustainable careers on their own terms. Bella Shmurda, from Nigeria joins the list of 27 artists representing 14 countries and a broad spectrum of musical heritage this year.
The program received the most applications ever this year with a 450% increase in the number of applications from last year. Artists on the Foundry program will receive a grant to invest in their content and channel development, access to YouTube partner support and workshops, and marketing, social, and press promotion. Artists will have combined access to resources and teams that will enable them to create and launch their music with greater impact and global reach.
“Artists are navigating a new, increasingly digital industry this year. To adapt and grow, they are finding new ways to create content, connect with fans, and generate revenue. This year’s Foundry class celebrates artists and their courage and reduces barriers to entry,” says Addy Awofisayo, YouTube Partnerships Manager.
Foundry was launched in 2015 and was initially run as a workshop series at YouTube Spaces. Since 2017, the program has focused on long-term partnerships with independent artists and expanded internationally. It has supported more than 150 developing artists across 15 countries, including breakout alumni like Arlo Parks, Dave, Dua Lipa, Lime Cordiale, Gunna, HARDY, Natanael Cano, Novelbright, Omar Apollo, Rosalía, and Tems. The Foundry class of 2018 included Niniola and Adekunle Gold, Lagos-born Tems was part of the 2020 class.
“Being an independent artist can mean funding your career personally, leading and working with your team to achieve all your goals. Foundry is an opportunity to elevate my career, and being a part of the program is a big win for me and for my team,” says Bella Shmurda.
This year, Foundry alumni will be paired with artists from the new class for conversations about navigating the industry on their own terms. Tems will be paired with Bella Shmurda and Enny, an artist from England.
“Being a part of Foundry was an amazing experience. You get to connect with so many incredible artists and build relationships with wonderful people. It’s an opportunity to grow, and connect more with the world” says Tems.
The 2021 Foundry Class reinforces YouTube’s commitment to supporting Nigeria’s next generation of global music stars; playing a part in developing individual talent. The Foundry programme ensures that artists can be independent and still have a successful career in music with the support of platforms like YouTube.
Below is the full list of the Foundry Class of 2021: