Leading agents have spoken to Music Week about the meteoric rises of acts such as Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Sam Fender on the live stage.
Eilish UK arena tour next summer includes four nights at The O2 in London, Capaldi sold out a 2020 arena tour before his debut album was even released, while Fender, who recently hit No.1 with his Hypersonic Missiles LP, has arena dates lined up for next spring.
While the advent of streaming and social media are credited as key drivers in the trend, there are other factors at play.
“What has increased the speed is fans’ unprecedented access to artists, be it via social media, instantly available music on DSPs, or VIP meet and greet/unique fan experiences," said UTA's James Wright, speaking in Music Week's recent special report on live agents. "The fans can become totally absorbed in an artist’s world from early days – it is amazing to witness."
Wright said acts outside the mainstream were also feeling the benefit.
“Artists that once would have been shunned to the niche section of record stores are now connecting widely with fans via their own channels and DSPs,” he added.
The skill is going to be keeping those artists at the top when the more traditional groundwork hasn't been made
WME's Chris Payne said: "Word of mouth has now been replaced by social media’s ability to create global hype in a matter of weeks. The skill is going to be keeping those artists at the top when the more traditional groundwork hasn’t been made."
Paradigm’s David Exley, whose roster includes The xx, Nardeydey and Fryars, pointed out that although some breakthroughs may appear to have happened overnight, the reality is often quite different.
“The access that streaming provides, combined with the virality of social media, means that an artist can break faster than ever," he said. "But it’s the acts that have planned for it and already have a wealth of material recorded and ready to go that are able to keep the momentum going and really break big and long-term."
UTA’s Gary Howard, who works with acts such as Craig David, Steps and UB40 ft. Ali & Astro, warned that speedy ascents still require careful management.
“When a client’s popularity surges overnight, you need to work with the client, their manager and their record label to determine next steps,” he said. “You have to decide whether to strike while the iron’s hot or take a step back and focus on a long-term plan.”