Island recording artist Jessie Reyez has been named the first featured performer in YouTube’s expanded “Artist on the Rise,” which was launched last year as a feature on the platform’s Trending tab but is now expanded into a larger program that includes promotion and programming within the site, advertising, social and fan events at YouTube Spaces.
Reyez is an outspoken 26-year-old Colombian-Canadian singer-songwriter who received the Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the year (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys) and partnered with Calvin Harris on the track “Hard to Love”; she’s already clocked 22.6 million views for her hit “Figures.”
She also last week publicly accused producer Noel “Detail” Fisher (who worked with Beyonce and Jay-Z in the past) of sexual misconduct after two female singers said he’d assaulted them. She said he’s the music-industry figure mentioned in her harrowing song “Gatekeeper.” However, YouTube’s motivations in choosing her were purely musical.
“[Universal Music Group CEO] Lucian Grainge invited me to his Grammy Week showcase and I saw her perform there and I was just blown away, said Lyor Cohen, YouTube Global Head of Music. “I had no idea she was so outspoken, I only know she’s hugely talented.”
The program will probably be monthly, but “it’s not cookie-cutter,” he continued. We may be inspired to do it more often, although finding remarkable artists is now a commodity. We are going from being a deal-centric organization to a partner-centric one with labels, managers and artists. We want deep immersive relationships, and working with new artists before they break big is important to the DNA of YouTube.”
“First off, thank you YouTube,” Reyez said via email. “I feel honored — to have ‘inaugural’ anywhere near my name is dope, and on Artist on the Rise is even crazier. I hope everyone enjoys what we’re making… and if not, feel free to blow up the comments, lol!”
Island EVP/GM Eric Wong said: “We’re thrilled that Jessie Reyez is the first artist chosen for YouTube’s expanded Artist on the Rise program. Jessie is already making a mark with her immense talent and attracting a passionate fanbase around the world. With support from Lyor and his team, we’re confident Jessie will continue to reach even greater heights of success.”