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A spotlight on up-and-coming artists from the Bay Area

Follow the Music is a music program dedicated to uplifting emerging Bay Area artists

Follow the music

In this short-attention-span, viral-Tik-Tok-clip, algorithm-driven music world, how do young and up-and-coming music artists in the Bay Area emerge out of the noise and get their voices heard? That was a question on Phil Green’s mind throughout his years in the music and entertainment business. And after serendipitous conversations with friends from the Bay Area, he formed Follow the Music, an organization founded on the belief of the transformative power of music. Made up of an advisory board featuring local music, sports, and entertainment professionals, Follow the Music aims to support young artists as they navigate the often opaque music industry.

The organization launched in October 2023 with a kickoff performance at The Guild Theatre in Menlo Park as part of the opening of that venue. The concert featured up-and-coming performers from Oakland School for the Arts, San Francisco Community Music Center, Glide Memorial Church, SF Jazz, and Enriching Lives Through Music.

“We wanted to run the gamut in terms of genre and also who is being served by the programs,” Phil said about that initial event. He also noticed that while he was putting together acts for the show, it was difficult to find their presence online. “I had poked around and I couldn't find anything on most of them. There was no high quality video footage. There was very little on social media. They really didn't even have the basics to be submitted for opportunities.”

Having long been in the entertainment industry, Phil had always felt a tug towards music. He had a brief run as an artist manager in the early 2000s and worked with Fantastic Negrito, who wound up winning NPR’s first ever Tiny Desk Contest. But Phil found that what he enjoyed most was providing support during those wobbly-legged beginnings of a successful music career. “The thing that I really love the most is watching artists take those first steps onto the bigger stages and have those moments to see whether they can step up,” Phil said. “It's also the time that's the hardest for artists and where I feel like there's the most need and the least support. And so I knew that was what lit me up.”

Follow the Music already has an impressive roster of young talent who, with the help of the organization, have increased their profiles. One such artist, NAIMA, recently played to the festival crowd at BottleRock Napa in support of her first single “Blood Sweat and Tears” from her forthcoming debut EP “InBetween.” NAIMA was first featured in Rolling Stone when she was 10 years old for a song she wrote in support of Black Lives Matter. Other artists backed by Follow the Music include August Lee Stevens, Satya, who will be at Stern Grove this summer, and young drummer Miles Turk, who will be playing at the Fountain Blues Festival.

More special performances and new partnerships will be announced later this summer, all in support of efforts to build a Bay Area where art organizations get the resources they need to focus on young artists, and where those young arts have opportunities to reach audiences on local stages and everywhere else.

The constant driving force is the transformative power of music. “One of the defining conversations we had at the beginning of this journey was around the world that young people are inheriting today,” Phil explained. “And music being that tool that can help them imagine a different life for themselves, imagine a different future. That's really at the core of this: where music can lead us.”