ONE37pm Sits Down With Leon Sherman of SoundCloud

Sherman gives us a behind the scenes look at the First on Soundcloud program

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Anybody embarking on a career in music will have a lot of memorable moments, but nothing will be quite like your very first show. Atlanta artist SoFaygo recently experienced that feeling for the very first time in his career, and ONE37pm got the chance to be a part of it.

Making his on-stage debut as part of SoundCloud’s new artist accelerator program “First on SoundCloud," the show was an absolute success from start to finish, and fans who RSVP'd quickly filled the venue until it reached capacity. That venue by the way was an Atlanta landmark called The Loft, and the crowd wrapped all around Peachtree St, with fans waiting for hours to have a shot at seeing SoFaygo. 

The show itself was magical and a memorable night that we were happy to be a part of. SoundCloud brought SoFaygo’s “first” to life by making his dream of performing live a reality, co-producing an Atlanta show for him to connect and interact with his fans for the first time before heading out on tour with Trippie Redd and Iann Dior. The artist was joined by supporting acts Metro Marrs, Sportvvs, and YellaBandanna, and Pusha T was also in attendance to support SoFaygo for his live debut, which was an exciting way to cap off the evening. At the event, the first 300 fans at the door were gifted a limited edition original SoFaygo x SoundCloud t-shirt, designed in collaboration with SoFaygo himself, and the rapper lit the stage up with hits like “Off The Map” and “Knock Knock.” TyFontaine also surprised the crowd when he jumped on stage and performing his collab track with Faygo, “Run It Up.”

The “First on SoundCloud” artist accelerator program features 9 breakout emerging artists celebrating their “first” major career milestones with original, collaborative projects co-created by SoundCloud. We spoke with Leon Sherman, editorial lead at SoundCloud, a few days after the show to find out more about the program, and what’s in store for the future.

ONE37pm: We know that this “First on SoundCloud” project is something that you guys are very passionate about. Could you give a little more detail about this program?

Sherman: The program itself has been going on since 2018, and it’s a correlation between SoundCloud and discovery essentially. It is very much well known by the rising stars that you see today whether it’s Lil Uzi, Billie, or Chance, etc., and we wanted to carry on that mantle that you see from SoundCloud with this program. It started in 2018 with Little Simz and Kehlani and moved on to the likes of Lil Tecca and Baby Rose. Then in 2021, we wanted to figure out how Soundcloud could have more skin in the game of discovery. There are a lot of rising artist programs out there, and with us, we wanted to work with the artists over the course of one year. We are working on creative first projects with these artists, and for SoFaygo that was his first show. 

We actually work with the artists—we don’t just want to give them a list of things to do for us. It’s more of a “let’s work together” scenario because that is how you get the most out of an artist. You get the best content and you have an artist that’s engaged. That was something that was really important to us, and a new aspect is that it goes on for the full year. We are putting our money where our mouth is, and we’re hoping to support our artists through our own platform through these career first milestone projects that all of the artists will overtake over the next six months. We feel really excited about this, and it’s very special!

ONE37pm: What makes you know that someone is special?

Sherman: I’m thirty-five years old, so I don’t pretend to be on TikTok every day! For me, it’s a few things. For one, the power of building a community is something that is key. That piques my interest because if somebody I know and trust is telling me that an artist is something special, and then you kind of go on that search to check them out. All it takes is for someone to get that word of mouth, and then you can go on these multitudes of platforms to learn more about these artists. Having a story to tell is also something that piques my interest. We shot a content series with SoFaygo, and his story was one that a lot of people could relate to.

He was making digital moves, but prior to his Atlanta show, he had never rehearsed before. It was his first time picking a rehearsal space, and it took two hours to set up the equipment. Those types of stories really catch my eye. Your digital footprint is important because you never know who’s watching.

ONE37pm: Okay, let’s talk about the man of the hour, SoFaygo. When we pulled up, that line was wrapping around Peachtree St.! This show was completely sold out! Were you guys expecting that response?

Sherman: That is almost like SoundCloud in real life. It’s a couple of things—it’s the community of SoFaygo and his fans. He has a huge following. We were expecting it to be absolutely busy, but he actually had to go outside and speak with some of his fans. Even before the show, we knew he was special, but when you have an artist that has that many people show up when they have never performed before—now you are on to something. The people that got in were very lucky, and the people that didn’t were still singing Faygo’s songs outside. Even to be a part of it is super special because you will always remember an artist’s first show. Harnessing that many people says a lot about Faygo and his community. 

It was just a really great night, especially since we have gone through a lot in the last year. Music is such a special connection point, and people like myself have missed live shows. That’s so special to me. For me personally, there is nothing like going to live shows because you get to meet like-minded people and those who like what you like. It's a sign of good things to come.

ONE37pm: What is your advice to anybody in the music industry that wants to make it?

Sherman: I always used to have that question when I was a teenager. I would say there is no guide as far as how to do it in the music industry. My career like others goes all over the place and it flips all over the chart. If you are really into this and about that life, don’t give up. I was balancing an internship along with working at a bar. I’d moved back to the capital (London), and I knew I wanted to work in the music industry. Make those connections, work hard, and don’t give up. Be that annoying person that speaks to everyone. Some people don’t want to do that, but that’s now how it works. You have to roll your sleeves up and put in the work. That’s the best advice I can give.

Be sure to keep up with all things SoundCloud on Instagram. 

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