How Latto, Omar Apollo and Muni Long Turned TikTok Buzz Into Grammy Best New Artist Noms

For the first time in recent memory, the new artist Grammy race is wide open.

Among this year’s nominees — Anitta, Omar Apollo, Domi & JD Beck, Muni Long, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle and Wet Leg — there is no obvious front-runner.

Though Latto’s “Big Energy” had a major breakthrough by reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Anitta has long had success in Brazil, there isn’t one artist who looks like a favorite this year — none of the new artist nominees even bleed over to the other categories of song, record and album of the year. However, many of the rising stars have a not-so-secret weapon in common: TikTok.

As the short-form video app has cemented itself into the music industry’s ecosystem over the past two years, it’s become somewhat of a gold mine for discovering emerging artists — and launching their careers. As TikTok details in its 2022 music report, 18 out of this year’s 19 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits had significant viral trends on TikTok.

Three of the new artist nominees — Omar Apollo, Latto and Muni Long — were named top emerging artists by the app this year. Apollo’s “Evergreen” served as the soundtrack to over 370,000 videos on the app, launching him to his first spot on the Hot 100. Latto’s “Big Energy” was nearly inescapable while scrolling through the app’s For You page, and her even bigger personality attracted 6.3 million devoted followers to her profile. Muni Long’s breakout hit “Hrs and Hrs,” which was used in over 1.7 million videos, earned a place on the Billboard Top 20.

“Whether creating their own glow-up trends, incorporating their live performances, [behind the scenes] and candid content, each one of these three artists has excelled at pulling the curtain back and giving their audience real, authentic moments,” says Corey Sheridan, TikTok’s head of music in North America. “And in each case, the direct result has been sustained success for their top songs.”

Even new artist nominees not named in TikTok’s U.S. year-end report have strong connections to the app. Anitta’s “Envolver” sparked a viral dance challenge. Jazz singer Samara Joy’s TikTok videos, some with more than 1 million views, helped her to gain enough traction to tour internationally. Though Måneskin first saw success with a Eurovision win in 2021, TikTok certainly fueled the band’s momentum when its cover of the Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” blew up on the app. Even a cheeky line from indie outfit Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue” — “Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” — had its viral moment.

“Anitta and Måneskin in particular have both had massive years on TikTok … and both artists are at the top of their countries’ respective lists [Brazil and Italy],” Sheridan says. “Domi & JD Beck and Wet Leg are both great examples of artists that have continued to cultivate their audiences on TikTok and actively market their music in ways that are very authentic to them.”

Though social media has been around for most of this century, no other platform has impacted music discovery quite like TikTok, and though the average Grammy voter is likely not spending hours on the app, its effect on radio and the charts has made it impossible to ignore. And with its free-for-all algorithm, TikTok is bringing artists to the forefront who might have never been considered otherwise. All this begs the question: Is TikTok helping the new artist category focus on truly emerging artists? Sheridan thinks so.

“The power is shifting back into the hands of the artists and away from the traditional gatekeepers of marketing,” he says. “As this group of artists see success, that is the translation of the above into chart placement and show recognition.”

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