It’s a simple fact: The internet has changed how we produce, consume, and distribute music. Songs weave their way from bedrooms to arenas, driven by unwavering commitments to creating and sharing. This new digital path, where traditional barriers aren’t an obstacle, is embraced by artists and listeners alike. Since its inception, SoundCloud has consistently been one of the most welcoming places for creators to directly connect and engage with their supporters.

At its core, SoundCloud is about artist discovery and advocacy — their dedication to championing artists at the early stages of their careers sets the platform apart from any other. And that’s exactly why SoundCloud is introducing you to the 2021 reincarnation of the First on SoundCloud project, also known as FOSC.

First on SoundCloud is an ambitious, culture-shifting undertaking that will extend across a year, and feature 9 handpicked artists who have used SoundCloud to shape their careers.

Some artists are in the early stages of their calling, while others have successfully used the platform for years. Regardless of where they are in their trajectories, SoundCloud is all in with every artist.

Throughout 2021, you’ll meet: Kid Quill of Indianapolis, Indiana; Sofia Mills of Rockport, Massachusetts; Ela Minus of Bogotá, Colombia; Sofaygo of Atlanta, Georgia; Payday of Everett, Washington; Pa Salieu of Coventry, West Midlands, England; Lourdiz of San Antonio, Texas; Charmaine of Toronto, Canada; and Otis Kane of Los Angeles, California.

FOSC is a partnership in the truest sense of the word.

These artists, whose genres extend across the spectrum of music, will collaborate with SoundCloud to produce their very own, custom-made, career-elevating creation during the year. While SoundCloud will be assisting with resources and connections, and providing general know-how, this project will be entirely artist-led.

This experience is not only meant to boost the artist, but to entertain us, the audience. The end goal here is for everyone to have fun, and for fans and supporters to be a legitimate part of the artist’s journey. All musicians involved will be sharing behind-the-scenes material, bringing their most authentic selves to the table and allowing the world to see how they do what they do.

One thing has already become abundantly clear with this project: We all have more in common than not. I specifically found that, while they’re from all over the map, geographically and musically, these artists have shared experiences that have built them into the creators they are today. They’re purposefully aligned.

Stay tuned throughout the year as each artist pulls back the curtain, showing us firsthand how to become the architects of our own dreams.

Kiana Fitzgerald is a music journalist, cultural critic, essayist, and DJ. Her work has appeared in NPR, Vibe Magazine, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Billboard, and other digital and print publications.