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The Daily Tar Heel

I like popular music as much as the next listener.

Seriously, I do. 

Sometimes it’s just what I’m looking for — to slip on my headphones and listen to Travis Scott’s “UTOPIA or boygenius’ “the record. I’m counting down the days until Billie Eilish’s third studio album release “Hit Me Hard and Soft, and I spent several hours last night comparing Future and Metro Boomin’s recent consecutive releases “WE DON’T TRUST YOU” and “WE STILL DON’T TRUST YOU” (obviously, I prefer the latter).

That being said, I’ve grown quite distraught recently at the phenomenon of “mainstream music,” exacerbated by platforms like TikTok and Instagram where we circulate soundbites of the same recurring artists. As we repeat this process online, individual music tastes become streamlined, dominated by trends, spikes and overarching popularity.

The algorithms of apps like Spotify and Apple Music don’t help; on the contrary, they ensure that the top artists stay in place. The Top 500 Global Ranking system on Spotify, for instance, provides a means by which consumers are notified of the popularity of their chosen creators, rewarding a system in which fame and success are acquired by sheer number of listeners alone. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with listening to the same music as everybody else. But when all we prioritize is popularity, we tend to stop prioritizing quality — and it’s a shame for smaller talents to go unnoticed, especially if it’s just because of circulatory convenience. 

That’s why I’ve created a guide, though limited it may be, to getting into less circulated artists. While each of these artists have their own unique, identifying characteristics, they fall into the same genres as some of the most recognizable names. 

Note that my general qualifier for recommended artists is fewer than 2 million listeners per month on Spotify — with a few exceptions. While, of course, a handful of these artists are well-known in their genre's spheres, they lack the broad, sweeping influence and recognition that some popular artists have. 

If you already listen to: Taylor Swift, Sabrina Carpenter and Laufey,

You’ll like: Maya Hawke, Weyes Blood and Grace Gardner

If you already listen to: A$AP Rocky, Isaiah Rashad and Kendrick Lamar,

You’ll like: Ab-Soul, REASON and Mick Jenkins

If you already listen to: Phoebe Bridgers, Lana del Rey and Clairo

You’ll like: Hailaker, Anna Mieke and Field Medic

If you already listen to: Radiohead, The Smiths and Pink Floyd,

You’ll like: My Morning Jacket, American Football and Wolf Parade

If you already listen to: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones,

You’ll like: Kaiser Chiefs, Michigander and The Dip

If you already listen to: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan,

You’ll like: FunkadelicBloodstone and Graham Central Station

If you already listen to: SZA, Frank Ocean and Brent Faiyaz,

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You’ll like: Moses Sumney, Little Simz and Boldy James

If you already listen to: Hozier, Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers,

You’ll like: River Whyless, Old Man Canyon and Dawson Hollow

If you already listen to: Beyoncé, Rihanna and TLC,

You’ll like: Tweet, Noname and En Vogue

If you already listen to: Nirvana, Guns ‘N Roses and AC/DC,

You’ll like: Slaughter, Great White and Warrant

If you already listen to: ABBA, Dolly Parton and Billy Joel,

You’ll like: Lake Street Dive, The Judds and The Oak Ridge Boys

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com