From Billie Eilish to Jorja Smith: iconic performances from Youtube’s most unique music channel, COLORS
Several years ago, the idea of developing a sleek, influential platform for new music seemed like little more than a pipe dream for German advertiser, and music lover Philipp Starcke. It wasn’t until he teamed up with a New York-based fashion photographer with no experience in music production that the pair managed to create something truly unique.
Any music fan that frequents Youtube on even a semi-regular basis will have, at some point, stumbled across the distinctly minimalist vibe of one of the platform’s most influential music channels. You know the one. There’s a flat, monochromatic colour scheme plucked straight out of the latest Pantone colour book. A silver microphone hanging motionless in the centre of the screen, a crisp, white typeface and an artist name you’ve either vaguely heard of or vehemently obsess over.
The chances are high that you’ve watched a performance on COLORS.
What started out as a small, two-person start-up created by Philipp Starcke and Felix Glasmeyer in 2016 has quickly grown to become one of the most trusted, most viewed and most aesthetically pleasing channels for showcasing new music on Youtube. According to analytics company Tubular Labs, COLORS has found a home in the top hundredth of the top percentile of YouTube music channels, sitting comfortably alongside established brands like Majestic Casual, MrSuicideSheep and Gazzz696 as trusted sources for new electronic music.
With less than 400 videos uploaded to the channel since 2016, COLORS have managed to build a subscriber base of more than 4 and a half million loyal music fans who, by the tail end of 2019, helped the channel crack the 40million-views-per-month goal and take COLORS from a niche performance space, to a globally recognised platform that breaks emerging talent.
Furthermore, for artists performing in the heart of these brightly coloured, empty studios, there’s far more to gain than simply subscribers or quick view counts — although these invariably come hand in hand. There’s an unspoken clout with having performed in the COLORS space, and a level of pride that comes with being selected by some of the internet’s most picky and well versed curators. Today we’re looking back at some of the most iconic performances that popped up on the COLORS Youtube channel:
Billie Eilish | Watch
Almost two years before the world caught up, COLORS were three steps ahead of the rest of us in discovering Billie Eilish. Recorded for the channel at just 15 years old – making her COLORS youngest performer by a country mile – Billie arrived at the studio with her parents by her side, a mere 35,000 subscribers and one EP to her name. To date the video has racked up over 24million views and her subscriber base is currently sitting at 31 million.
Billie also gave COLORS a stunning and deeply introspective performance of “idontwannabeyouanymore” in April 2018 (which you can check out here), making her one of only two artists to return to the channel for a second helping.
Moses Sumney | Cut Me
Just two days after part II of new, double-album ‘Græ’ hit the stands and as shit was officially hitting the fan around the world with COVID-19, North Carolina based artist Moses Sumney graced the COLORS studio for the first time, performing a sublime, stripped back, yet pitch-perfect version of his painfully beautiful single ‘Cut Me’.
Jorja Smith | Blue Lights
Before she worked with Kendrick, collaborated with Stormzy and had Drake declare her second single ‘Where Did I Go’ his ‘favourite song of the moment’ in Entertainment Weekly in 2017, British singer Jorja Smith released ‘Blue Lights’. At the time of writing this article her soul-stirring performance on COLORS has more than 10x the view count of her official upload, sitting comfortably at 51million views.
Doja Cat | Juicy
23 million views and counting, L.A. based artist Doja Cat served up an electrifying performance of ‘Juicy’, from her debut album ‘Amala’. Doja Cat has had an unprecedented, meteoric rise over the last twelve months especially, and as usual COLORS was way ahead of everyone else.
Sampa The Great | Rhymes To The East
With artists from LA, New York, London, Berlin, Belgium and Paris gracing the COLORS performance space, it was only a matter of time before Australia’s very own poet, singer, songwriter and rapper, Sampa The Great was tapped on the shoulder. Performing a spellbinding and spiritual performance of standout single “Rhymes to the East”, lifted from her Birds And The Bee9 project, Sampa The Great marked the first Aussie act to land on COLORS… but not the last.
Parcels | Lightenup
Chances are you’re already familiar with Berlin-via-Byron-Bay five-piece PARCELS. How could you not be; from working with Daft Punk in 2017, to releasing their self-titled debut LP in 2018 and getting flogged on radio around the world, their funk-meets-disco sound landed at just the right moment to captured the attention of ears everywhere. But months before their iconic performance of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ in the Like A Version studio, they were at COLORS.
Mahalia | Sober
In 2017, relatively unknown British R&B singer Mahalia flew from her home base in the UK to Berlin to record a song specifically for COLORS. In 2019, Mahalia boasts over 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, half a million followers on instagram and a global fan base.
Sofi Tukker | Drinkee
On 26 January 2017, as Australia eagerly awaited hearing who would come second to Flume in the Hottest 100, US artist SOFI TUKKER landed their Portuguese-inspired hit ‘Drinkee’ in at number 60. Several months prior, they were performing their iconic track in the COLORS performance space.
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