Robin Thirdfloor. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Who’s got Next? Music streaming site Deezer believes it knows. Following a global campaign called Deezer Next, where new artists are highlighted on the site and its app, the South African side has announced their picks.

Pop musician Dominic Neill joins rapper Raheem Kemet, rock band Southern Wild and alternative rapper Robin Thirdfloor as Deezer Next’s South African artists.

These artists will enjoy publicity and promotion to Deezer subscribers for the year.

But what exactly is this campaign? Deezer South Africa’s Editorial Manager, Tecla Ciolfi explains: “Next is an ongoing programme. It’s a platform for up-and-coming musicians to get their music out to a wider audience. To have the backing of a global brand like Deezer. We want to be perceived as having our finger on the pulse.”

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“With Next, some of the artists are signed to majors, but some of them are indie and that was incredibly important because in South Africa there are a lot of unsigned artists. There are kids who are incredibly talented and I thought it was important to include unsigned artists because I want to give other artists inspiration to see we are actually listening and want to help you get a leg up with your career. At the beginning of next year, we’ll start again with a batch of new artists.”

For now though, the chosen four will be included in many roll-outs in this plan – including being added to prominent playlists. Ciolfi gives this example: “We’ve just had our first release with Southern Wild, a rock band. We’ve done a promoted social campaign around the release of their debut album.”

“In the app, we’ve scheduled all communication for the month to focus on that release, on the band and the singles. We’re putting the singles into prolific play lists that have very good traffic. We’re not just doing this promotion in South Africa. We’re scheduling them on the global rock channel and seeing how they’ll do overseas. We’ll be creating additional content like pod-casts, special live events and stuff like that.”

“I didn’t just want to do a once-off promotion. I want to create a Deezer Next Family. When we go into 2018 and pick a fresh batch of artists, I still want to go back to the 2017 Next artists and see what they’re doing and if they want to collaborate.”

If you’re an aspiring or up-and-coming muso, you’re probably wondering what qualities are needed to make it on this list. Ciolfi says there are a few non-negotiable aspects that come into play.

“Lyrics are very important,” she says. “What are you trying to say as an artist?

“The artists I’ve picked this year really know who they are. They’re pretty fresh and new in their career but their identity as artists is pretty solid. They know what music they want to make and what their message is. That’s really important. Each one has something special. The most important thing is the quality of the music. Even if a single hasn’t been produced in a fancy studio, you can hear if the song is good or not.”

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So how does an up-and-coming artist get featuring on Deezer Next? Ciolfi says: “You can just email me at [email protected] or find me on the Deezer South Africa social media platforms. Just send me your EPK and a link to some of your songs. I listen to every single one. You have to pay artists that respect.”

Established in Paris in 2007, Deezer has been live in South Africa since 2014 and Ciolfi says South African music lovers are living in exciting times.

“It’s a different ball game now to when we launched because there are so many more streaming sites now and in South Africa specifically, people are getting used to what streaming is,” she explains.

“When Deezer launched, it was difficult because instead of introducing people to a product, I had to go back to the drawing board and introduce people to what streaming actually is. We’ve come so far in terms of technical advancement.”

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