17 Famous Musicians Who Discovered Other Artists


We’ve got none other than Akon to thank for Lady Gaga!


Beyoncé discovered R&B duo Chloe x Halle.

2020 Billboard Women In Music / Getty Images for Billboard, Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey were discovered by Beyoncé’s team after their YouTube cover of Beyoncé’s song “Pretty Hurts.” Bey signed them to her management team, and their success quickly skyrocketed.


Janelle Monáe was discovered by Big Boi of OutKast.

Julien Hekimian / Getty Images, Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

Janelle met Big Boi at an open mic night — he invited her to collaborate on his collaborative album Got Purp? Vol. II. Her work on the album caught the attention of Sean “Puffy” Combs, who was instrumental in Monáe’s rise in popularity.


One Direction discovered 5SOS.

Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Clear Channel, Darren McCollester / Getty Images for IHeartMedia

Niall Horan told J-14 that they discovered the group on YouTube and “knew straight away they were very special,” choosing 5SOS to go on tour with them.


Drake discovered The Weeknd.

Rich Fury / Getty Images for dcp, Karwai Tang / WireImage via Getty Images

According to Complex, Drake associate Oliver El-Khatib was supposedly in the audience when The Weeknd did an early performance at the University of Toronto. Drake later tweeted and made a blog post about The Weeknd linking to his website and song “Wicked Games,” which caused The Weeknd to blow up.


Eminem was discovered by Dr. Dre.

Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images, Steve Granitz / WireImage via Getty Images

An Interscope Records intern saw Eminem perform at the Rap Olympics and passed along the CD to Jimmy Iovine, who played it for Dr. Dre. When Dre got home, he called Iovine and said, “Have this kid out here on Monday.” Hours after Eminem arrived, they were working in the studio.


Akon discovered Lady Gaga.

John Parra / Getty Images for LARAS, Gotham/GC Images via Getty Images

Gaga was working as a songwriter at Interscope Records in 2008 when Akon heard one of her reference vocals. He quickly signed Gaga to his own label, and Gaga released her album that same year.


And the Fugees discovered Akon.

Paul Natkin / Getty Images, Lester Cohen / Getty Images for BMG

“The Fugees is how I came into the business. … When I moved to New Jersey, the Fugees became my family … that was like my clique, I was a part of the original refugee camp,” Akon said of hip-hop group the Fugees, who featured him on their 1995 EP.


Usher helped discover Justin Bieber.

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images, mma McIntyre / Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Justin was initially discovered on YouTube by Scooter Braun, but it was Usher who really brought Justin to mainstream success. He auditioned for Usher and became his “teen protégé” — Usher even sang in Justin’s first single, “One Time,” in addition to appearing in the music video.


Lil Jon gave Pitbull an early boost in his career.

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images for MCM, Manny Hernandez / Getty Images

Lil Jon met Pitbull in Miami in Pitbull’s “real early days.” He liked one of Pitbull’s songs so much he invited Pitbull to feature on his upcoming album, which helped boost Pitbull to more mainstream popularity. The collaboration was partly so Lil Jon could show some love for his Cuban fans, but he also said of Pitbull (with whom he developed a close friendship), “I always believed in the guy, and I always knew he could make it commercially.”


Ellen DeGeneres discovered Charlie Puth.

Randy Holmes via Getty Images, Toni Anne Barson / WireImage via Getty Images

DeGeneres discovered the singer on YouTube, then signed him to her label. He’d later move to Atlantic Records and become known for the hit “See You Again.”


M.I.A. and Diplo both claim to have discovered each other.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images, Pierre Suu / Getty Images

Diplo produced some of M.I.A.’s early songs, like “Paper Planes,” and the two also dated in the 2000s. After Diplo described finding M.I.A. at a party, M.I.A. wrote on Instagram, “This is the first story of a brown female musician who smashed it for the first time…that didn’t happen because I accidentally walked passed Diplo,” saying she discovered Diplo, found out where he was performing, and paid her own way into a club to meet him.


Panic! at the Disco was discovered by Fall Out Boy.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images, Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic via Getty Images

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy discovered the band’s online demos and signed them to his label before they’d ever even played a show.


Nicki Minaj was discovered by Lil Wayne.

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty Images, Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

Dirty Money CEO Fendi discovered Minaj’s music from her Myspace page. He introduced her to Lil Wayne, who had also seen her on the street DVD “On the Come Up” and liked what he heard. Lil Wayne made a bunch of mixtapes with Nicki, which built up a ton of buzz around her debut album.


Jamie Foxx says he helped launch Ed Sheeran’s career.

Leon Bennett / WireImage via Getty Images, Luigi Rizzo/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sheeran came to Foxx’s radio show in Los Angeles, and Foxx was such a fan of the music he heard that he allowed Sheeran to crash on his couch for six weeks. He also took Sheeran to a large open mic night, where he got a standing ovation. Of course, Sheeran’s career also got a boost from Taylor Swift, who had him serve as her opening act during her Red tour.


Jay-Z was one of the people who discovered Rihanna.

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Roc Nation, Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Record producer Evan Rogers was vacationing in Barbados when he met 15-year-old Rihanna. She recorded “Pon de Replay,” the demo of which was sent out to Jay-Z at Def Jam Records. He flew Rihanna out and apparently wouldn’t let her leave the building until she signed with the label, asking what he’d have to do to make sure she canceled all her other meetings with labels.


And he also discovered Rita Ora.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Jay-Z signed Ora to his label Roc Nation and featured her in his “Young Forever” music video. Ora referred to him and Beyoncé as “mentors.” However, Roc Nation later sued Rita for $2 million for breaching her contract after she tried to leave the label.


And finally, T.I. discovered Travis Scott.

Paras Griffin / Getty Images, Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Images

T.I. heard Travis’s early song “Lights (Love Sick)” and decided to meet with him, then freestyled over his song “Animal.” Scott would later sign with T.I.’s label, Grand Hustle.

BuzzFeed Daily

Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!