Mastercard Introduces Second-Year Artist Accelerator Class

CLASS OF 2024: Brooke Alexx, JANAYAH, Juliet Ivy, Este Haim and Asha Imuno are pictured at Live Nation headquarters in Beverly Hills during the announcement of the second year of Mastercard’s OnesToWatch program. Not included in the photo is the fifth member of this year’s class, Loyal Lobos.
Photo Courtesy Mastercard

The second year of Mastercard’s Artist Accelerator program features five new artists who will receive backing from OnesToWatch global music discovery platform.

A recent media event featured four of the five artists – Brooke Alexx, JANAYAH, Juliet Ivy, and Asha Imuno — along with a panel of touring, marketing and artist management experts and a question-and-answer session with Este Haim, the bassist of her celebrated band of sisters. The fifth artist in this year’s class is Loyal Lobos.

“A music career today is about more than just the music – it’s an entire ecosystem that’s shifting every day, and brands have proven that they can become partners to artists and fans in creating unforgettable experiences and moments of deeper connection,” David O’Connor, the founder of OnesToWatch, who said the OnesToWatch program was “my baby,” tells Pollstar.

In the case of Mastercard, which also unveiled its limited-edition Mastercard Music Pass, which allows music fans and others “to unlock a cutting-edge generative AI music studio, behind-the-scenes content, and the chance to access concert tickets to live shows later this year,” according to a company statement.

The company actively supports emerging artists “by creating tangible pathways to reach wider audiences, perform on stages worldwide, and get the guidance they need along the way,” O’Connor says.

“Music is the top passion globally, so brands that support artists and live music actually resonate deeper with fans and drive brand loyalty,” he adds. “When partnerships lead with value and authenticity, it really benefits the entire ecosystem for artists and fans.”
O’Connor says artists chosen for the program come from wide backgrounds, musically and geographically, and share an affinity for the live experience and using tech in the practice of their craft.

“OnesToWatch has always championed new artists who excel in the live setting and thrive on multiplatform storytelling,” he says. “With our partnership with Mastercard, we were really looking for artists that reflect that mission on a global scale across multiple genres. We have an artist born in Bogotá (Loyal Lobos) and another artist from London (JANAYAH) that was born in New Zealand. We were looking for someone who has an underrepresented story with a real genuine passion and love of performing. We landed on a group of artists that we knew would benefit at this point in their trajectory.”

The Artist Accelerator began in 2023 and has served as a launchpad for dozens of emerging artists, introducing them “to Web3 and AI technologies to help them better create, market and monetize their work,” according to a Mastercard news release. “This year’s program evolves with a new partnership with OnesToWatch, a global music discovery platform, that brings artists from the studio to the stage — as the demand for live music reaches record highs.”

“We’ve helped propel icons like Lewis Capaldi, Tate McRae, The Marías, Conan Gray and Ashe onto the global stage,” says O’Connor, founder of the program.

Cheryl Guerin, who manages global brand strategy and innovation for Mastercard, said the passion for music unites the world like nothing else and that’s what draws the company to OnesToWatch.

“Most traditional marketers they’ll focus on demographics, like age and gender, to do their marketing. For us, it’s all about passion. … We care about bringing joy to the world, joy to people and bringing our cardholders closer to their passions, like music” she says. “We’ve worked with partners securing amazing experiences for people, with the Grammys, Latin Grammys, Grammy U, the Brits, and now we’re super excited to be partnering with OnesToWatch.”