Twenty-year-old Nepali boy Abhinav Bastakoti, known by Curtis Waters is breaking the internet. In just a month, his single ‘Stunnin’ has been streamed over 15 million times on Spotify and viewed more than two million times on YouTube.
According to the Hollywood music magazine Rolling Stone, Bastakoti has been placed in third of latest Breakthrough 25 chart, which ranks the fastest-rising new artists of the month, run the gamut from TikTok stars to emo-folk darlings.
Magazine writes : Curtis Waters, the proudly independent artist behind the Tik Tok smash “Stunnin,” takes third, pulling in 6.6. million more streams in June than he did in May.
Earlier the Rolling Stone also wrote the feature of Bastakoti with the headline : “Curtis Waters’ ‘Stunnin’ Is a TikTok Hit — And a Threat to the Major Label System”.
The Rolling Stone Breakthrough 25 chart ranks the artists who are seeing the greatest gains each month in audio streams. It does not include passive listening, such as terrestrial radio or digital radio. Because the chart focuses on newer music, eligible artists must have not reached the upper ranks of the charts before.
“If your content is engaging you’ll be getting views on it. At one point I had less than 100 followers and still managed to get a million views on TikTok’ he said.
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“This still feels very surreal. It’s almost like a dream,” says Waters, who was born in Nepal and moved to Canada with his family when he was 10. Growing up in a Nepali household in a foreign land, Waters, at a young age, found refuge in music and took it as a medium via which he could harbour his artistic endeavours.
In early March, the veteran A&R Chris Anokute was listening to a SoundCloud link from an aspiring artist. The track came to an end, and the platform’s algorithm automatically queued up Curtis Waters’ “Freckles.” “I felt like he was telling my story,” says Anokute, who worked with Katy Perry at her hit-making peak and now runs an entertainment company called Young Forever Inc. “I became a fan immediately.”
The chance SoundCloud encounter was timely: Anokute became Waters’ manager before the May release of “Stunnin’,” a beach-party ready slab of pop-rap that sounds like Will Smith’s “Miami” remade for the TikTok generation. Last week, “Stunnin’” became the fastest unsigned record to go into Spotify’s flagship playlist, Today’s Top Hits, since Arizona Zervas’ “Roxanne,” which went on to earn more than a billion streams.
But unlike Zervas, who inked a deal with Columbia Records, Waters is choosing not to sign with a major label. This is an especially noteworthy step at a time when the exploitative nature of the music business’ longstanding business model is coming under fire.
“I didn’t agree with the deals [I was being offered],” Waters says. “I came so far independently. I’m not sure the major labels are giving artists what they really need.”
(sources : Rolling Stone magazine and The Kathmandu Post)