Sabrina Carpenter, Chappell Roan are pop stars in the making. How opening tour gigs, TikTok and Coachella are keys to their success.

As Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift dominate arenas around the world with sold-out concerts, their opening acts are becoming pop stars in their own right. Both Chappell Roan and Sabrina Carpenter's fame came slowly, then all at once.

Roan and Carpenter are currently in the “middle class” phase of notoriety with devoted fans and recognizable aesthetics, but their star power is building with every move. As concert openers, they have ringing endorsements from two massive stars with powerful fandoms.

Jason Lipshutz, the executive director of music at Billboard, told Yahoo Entertainment that Roan opening for Olivia is the “most successful opening act placement in recent memory.”

“Opening for someone obviously helps with career momentum sometimes, but she seems to have become a star right at this moment,” he said.

Roan, who is 26, released her first EP in 2017. Her debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, wasn’t released until 2023. On the heels of her critical success, she began opening for Rodrigo in February 2024, kickstarting her meteoric rise. Her NPR Tiny Desk Concert in March introduced a wider audience to her unmistakably campy style. According to the music data analysis tool Chartmetric, her Spotify monthly listeners grew more than 500% from February to April.

“What [Roan] has done over the past couple of months is really undeniable,” Lipshutz said. “She’s gonna be a star. The queer community is totally behind her and she has this insane voice that you hear … then start watching clips of her performing the hell out of a song.”

Right up there with Roan is Carpenter, a 24-year-old former Disney Channel star, who released four albums through Disney’s Hollywood Records between 2015 and 2019. She was briefly an internet villain in 2021, when rumors spread that Olivia Rodrigo’s viral hit “Drivers License” was about a love triangle she was involved in. In 2022, she broke free from that narrative with the album Emails I Can’t Send.

Her big break came when she joined Swift on tour in November 2023, charming the crowd with flirty performances and cheeky wordplay, switching up the outro for her song “Nonsense” with topical lines for each city. When criticized for filming her salacious “Feather” music video in a church, she cleverly explained that “Jesus Was a Carpenter.” Chartmetric data shows that Carpenter’s monthly Spotify listeners have grown by 58% to date since her first opening performance in November.

Lipshutz explained that in a way, Roan and Carpenter have opposite backstories — Roan seemingly came out of nowhere, but Carpenter has been grinding away on her Disney label for years waiting for a hit. They just happened to deploy similar playbooks for their breakout moments.

“For [Carpenter], it’s been a slow build of minor singles leading to a critically approved album,” he said “Then she had minor hits leading to opening for [Swift], which then led to an actual hit.”

Carpenter is still more popular than Roan — she has 40.6 million monthly Spotify listeners compared to Roan’s 9.4 million, according to Chartmetric — but they’re both growing every day.

Though both Roan and Carpenter are between albums right now, they each released a new single in April — Roan with “Good Luck, Babe!” on April 5, and Carpenter with “Espresso” on April 11.

They’re both signed to Island Records, a division of Universal Music Group. UMG banned the use of its artists’ music on TikTok in February, but creators have found a way around the ban for both Roan and Carpenter. Thousands of videos have been created using sped-up or alternate versions of their songs to avoid the ban and promote listening to it on other platforms — and it’s working.

Both Roan and Carpenter achieved their highest charting songs on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 27, at No. 44 and No. 7 respectively. Critics say the ephemeral nature of using short-form video to promote music prioritizes songs over artists and rarely leads to long-term fame. For these two, it might provide exactly the boost they need to break through the pop star stratosphere.

Coachella’s headliners typically receive a streaming boost after they perform, but Roan and Carpenter saw some of the biggest gains while featured earlier in the schedule. According to Billboard, decreased ticket sales for the festival didn’t stop Roan’s streams from increasing 52%, and Carpenter’s streams went up 41%.

Another up-and-coming pop star, Reneé Rapp, received a 33% boost after her viral Coachella performance with Kesha, Billboard reported. The singer, perhaps better known as Regina George in the 2024 film adaptation of the Mean Girls musical, might be the next pop star to ascend.

Rapp, who frequently makes headlines for her outspoken demeanor in interviews, left a steady gig as one of the stars of Max’s Sex Lives of College Girls to focus on her music. Since she announced her departure in July 2023, her Spotify monthly listeners have grown 143%, according to Chartmetric data.

“What’s missing [for Rapp] compared to Roan and Carpenter is she just doesn’t have a hit yet,” Lipshutz said. “I could definitely see it happening for her though.”

Lipshutz explained that it’s been a while since we’ve seen someone new get crowned a pop star. Younger generations are looking for “their own phase” of artists to support from the ground up, helping to boost a growing fan base.

“It’s always exciting to have new stars being born,” he said.