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These under 30 musical prodigies and industry mavens have their finger on the pulse of the present and future, bringing Latin pop, Afrobeat and other genres into the mainstream via unconventional tactics.
By Charlotte Burney
Situated in Manhattan’s East Village from 1973 until 2006, the CBGB club was a New York City staple. The self-proclaimed “undisputed birthplace of punk” was home to a lot of artists, including the Ramones, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads, among other music legends. Throughout its decades, CBGB saw hundreds of gritty rockstars, tattooed artists and angsty bikers pass through its doors—but not many little girls. In 2005, Blu DeTiger, then just 7 years old, took the stage of the historic club with a bass guitar almost as big as her before the iconic venue closed its doors for good.
Now DeTiger, 24, is one of the few women bass prodigies across the industry, and the only woman with a Fender partnership that includes a line of her own bass guitars launching next year. “I just want to inspire and empower,” DeTiger, who landed on this year’s 30 Under 30 Music list, tells Forbes. “And if anyone’s inspired by me to pick up the bass or pick up an instrument, or follow their passion, that’s the best legacy I could leave.”
The music industry is evolving. For more than a decade, Forbes has highlighted youthful success stories for our annual 30 Under 30 Music list with the help of nominations from the public. To be considered for this year’s list, all candidates had to be under the age of 30 as of December 31, 2022, and not have appeared on a previous Under 30 list. Forbes tapped a panel of expert judges to narrow down this year’s cohort: Joe Jonas, class of 2018, musician; Remi Wolf, class of 2022, musician; Chadrick Fellers, class of 2022, founder, WastedPotential.
These 30 young artists, executives, producers and entrepreneurs from the world of music aren’t just creating, they’re listening for sounds and voices less heard. They are listening differently, to create more successfully and share with the world what the future sounds like.
For example, Brazilian-born pop star Anitta, 29, rose to the top of her regional music scene and quickly crossed over globally with the April release of her trilingual album, Versions of Me, which she sings in Spanish, English and Portuguese. Her hit single “Envolver” has over 500 million Spotify streams and took her less than a day to write, and in November she received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
Earlier this year at an altitude of 32,000 feet, Darryl Dwayne Granberry Jr., aka DDG, 25, became the first rapper in history to shoot a music video emulating a space mission. While filming, the plane entered the zero gravity phase, and DDG documented the entire process on his YouTube channel, which has over 2.54 million subscribers.
Cole Bennett, 26, founded Chicago-based multimedia company Lyrical Lemonade at age 17. Bennett got his start blogging about emerging rappers on the local Chicago scene. His passion project has since evolved into a one-stop music promotion and event company. He’s collaborated with the likes of Nike, Jordan Brand, Despicable Me‘s Minions and Pop Tarts. Bennett and his brand are behind the visuals for emerging names in Gen Z’s rap scene (Lil Pump, Juice WRLD), and he has also worked with mainstream figures in hip-hop such as J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa and Eminem.
And Sarah Lorentzen, 25, is the senior director of international A&R at RCA Records. Raised in a Nigerian and Danish household, Lorentzen is inspired by the rise of African music in mainstream global contexts and was behind the signing of Nigerian Afrobeat artists Tems and Mannywellz to RCA Records.
A substantive TikTok following is something else the Forbes 2023 Under 30 Music listers have in common. Whether Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers like it, TikTok is changing the music industry for musicians and executives alike. Viral TikTok songs top charts and bolster artists’ virality and financial success. Madison Beer, 23, is a perfect example. The singer and social media sensation has over 4.2 billion streams across her catalog globally and commands a TikTok following of over 17 million. DeTiger is no different. She may have picked up her first bass guitar as a small child, but gained momentum after she garnered 1.3 million TikTok fans and went viral with her bass covers of popular tracks, including Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” and Prince’s “Kiss.”
As the Forbes Under 30 list turns 12, there’s one other industry that continues to influence each category: technology and its evolution. Georgio Constantinou, 28, is the cofounder of DAO Jones, a venture capital firm that raised $3.5 million to invest in early stage Web3 startups. He simultaneously cofounded NFT consultancy Six.xyz, where he was part of the team that brokered a $4 million sale of Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin album, to make it available as an NFT.
Tech and music are mixing in other ways, too. Arushi Jain, 29, is a South Asian technologist who has popularized Hindustani classical music for our modern generation. Jain’s music uses a modular synthesizer to integrate the drones of Indian classical music into her electronic, 21st century take on a genre that dates back to the 15th century. Atri Raychowdhury, 29, is a founding member of Sony Music’s data strategy group where he launched two analytics tools: one for artists, and one for the label’s executives. Raychowdhury also conceived and now co-leads the company’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics leadership program, created to promote diversity in the field and provide visibility of the various STEM career paths in the music industry for underserved youth.
In addition to Anitta, Becky G, 25, Josh Conway, 28 and Rauw Alejandro, 29, are all U.S.-born artists falling under the umbrella of Latin music and culture, contributing to the reason why Latin music was predicted to generate over $1 billion in revenue in the United States in 2022. As these artists top charts and tick Grammy nominations, projections say that annual revenue numbers should continue to rise. Even better, though, is that Latin music is (finally) getting a deserved seat at the table.
This year’s list was edited by Lisette Voytko, Charlotte Burney and Jacqueline Schneider. For a link to our complete Music list, click here, and for full 30 Under 30 coverage, click here.