Music Industry

How Did Dua Lipa Get Signed? |  How was Dua Lipa Discovered?

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She’s toured five continents, has 15 million Instagram followers and is one of the most-streamed female artists. So how has Dua Lipa achieved such a meteoric rise to fame, despite being relatively new to the music scene?   

Dua Lipa got discovered and became famous by working very hard, making sacrifices and ensuring her work seen by influential people. Not only does she have an amazing voice, but she’s also a gifted songwriter with a unique sound.  

Read on to find out how this talented singer achieved incredible success at a very young age.  

How did Dua Lipa get discovered? 

Dua Lipa
Photo (cropped): Justin Higuchi

The ‘dark pop’ singer, seemed to burst onto the music scene just a few short years ago. But in reality, she’d been grafting away on her music for many years. Like lots of big stars, she started young, using social media and streaming platforms to get noticed and releasing her own music videos. But the path wasn’t always easy.   

Why is Dua Lipa popular? 

Dua has a fantastic voice, creates popular songs with subtle messages and has a great sense of style. She’s also an advocate for feminism, calling out sexism in the music industry and xenophobia, speaking out for refugees. Yet she isn’t overly controversial either, ensuring her activism doesn’t overshadow her work and striking a happy medium with her fans and followers.  

Is Dua Lipa her real name?  

Many people believe this to be an adopted stage name, but she was given this at birth. It means ‘love’ in Albanian. Dua was born in London on the 22nd August 1995 and is the oldest of two siblings. Lipa is Kosovan and very proud of her Albanian heritage and geographical roots. In 2017 she explained her feelings about her unusual name to interviewer Patrizia Pepe:  

“Now I’m proud of it. Now I am. But when I was growing up, all I wanted was to be called Hannah, Sarah, Ella… anything normal. Because with Dua you had to explain: I’m from Kosovo.”   

Dua Lipa’s father is a musician too  

Lipa’s dad was also a musician, in his native Albania. He sang in a band called Oda. Being around music from an early age contributed to her career choice – they often played David Bowie and Bob Dylan in the house. She was also heavily influenced by her parents’ work ethic.

She has said that they had to work very hard, waiting tables and studying in the evening and believe that you make your own luck. They left the country during a national period of unrest in the 1990s, moving to the UK’s capital. But, once the political situation had settled made the decision to return when her father was offered a good job. Lipa was 11.  

How did Dua Lipa get her start? 

As a kid, Dua Lipa loved to make up dance routines in her school playground. The first album she ever bought was by Nelly Furtado. Lipa learned all the lyrics and listening to it constantly. Lipa also took up the cello during primary school but found it annoying and cumbersome, so gave up playing. While at primary school her confidence was knocked when she was told she ‘couldn’t sing’, due to her inability to hit higher notes.  

She attended weekend classes at the Sylvia Young Theatre School where she thrived and had her confidence restored. But when she returned to Kosovo with her parents, she found there to be fewer opportunities to perform and advance as a singer. Nevertheless, she carried on with her music and began posting herself singing covers of her musical heroes, on the video platform YouTube

Sylvia Young Theatre School 

At just 15, Lipa made her way back to London by herself, studying at Parliament Hill School and at her former weekend stage school, Sylvia Young. Fortunately, another girl from her home city was moving to the UK’s capital at the same time so they were able to flatshare in Kilburn. It was a challenging time for the teen. Despite being such a tender age, she had to learn to grow up quickly, cooking and cleaning for herself without her parents around to help her.

To make ends meet, Dua worked in restaurants and clubs once she was 16 – with these experiences later inspiring her lyric writing. However, it’s something she says was an enjoyable period, helping her to mature and has contributed to who she is today. Especially as her career trajectory has required her to often learn on the job, this she says, was a good training ground.  

Being at such a prestigious stage school, with its own talent agency and alumni including Denise van Outen, Emma Bunton and Amy Winehouse, opened some doors. Dua began to attract attention musically. She also landed modelling jobs for brands like ASOS, but modelling was never her goal and she was once advised to lose weight if she wanted to go further in that field, an idea she rejected in favour of maintaining her own image. She told the Nova radio show:  

“It just wasn’t the route that I wanted to go. It is amazing and lots of fun having your picture taken but it was never something I saw as a career because all I ever wanted to do was music.”  

Dua Lipa’s first songs  

When she first started writing, she had no idea what genre her music style was, nor what she was doing. But having seen her self-released covers on YouTube, several producers began reaching out to her, offering her the opportunity to come and develop her sound at their studios. This gave her space and tools to find her musical voice, resulting in some great demos.

Once she started writing, she soon delivered a collection of songs. Lipa believes in beginning songwriting as if she were writing in a diary. As a result, her music is often autobiographical, authentic and sincere, adding to her popularity as an artist.  

Dua Lipa’s manager 

Her first original songs were uploaded to SoundCloud in 2012, and quickly caught the attention of Lana Del Rey’s managers, Ed Millett and Ben Mawson of Tap Management. After she signed a management contract with then, they sent her for two years of intensive recording sessions. She laid down around 130 songs, but only 12 made it to the album. As yet, she was unsigned and awaiting the right opportunity.  

How did Dua Lipa get a record deal?  

While Lipa had a high profile and well-connected management company to help and steer her, she didn’t sign to a label until she found the right one and was ready. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she talked about keeping her own voice and style: 

“I’ve always been very much in control of my music and my image and I think one of the things I’ve been lucky about is I didn’t bring a label on board until I really figured out who I was. I just needed to find a team that believed in my idea and my dream, and that made things way easier because I never had to deal with the thing of people wanting to change me or wanting to make me sing songs that aren’t really for me because I already had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do.” 


Who signed Dua Lipa?  

Lipa did eventually sign with Warner Music Group in the summer of 2015 and began working on her debut album for them. At the time, they didn’t have a big female pop artist, so it was a smart move, meaning they devoted a lot of time to ensuring the songstress’s career really took off. Once it was agreed, she called her parents in Kosovo and asked them to come over for the signing.  

How did Dua Lipa get famous?  

Now Lipa was on her way to being catapulted into the public eye.  

She released her first single New Love in 2015, produced by Emile Haynie and Andrew Wyatt, then her second single, Be the One in October 2015. It reached number one in Belgium Poland and Slovakia, number six in Australia and number 20 in New Zealand. Later that year she was announced as one of the acts on the BBC Sound of… 2016 list. 

Dua Lipa Success

Why is Dua Lipa popular? 

Lipa spoke to ABC News, explaining her response to the massive success she achieved with record sales and streams:  

“It’s terrifying! I can’t even say it myself. I don’t even want to say it out loud! It’s really exciting but it’s also crazy as a new artist to have that happen because artists that are much bigger in the industry have a lot more leverage. 

As 2016 began she was touring the UK and Europe and released her third single Last Dance, followed by Hotter than Hell – the track that really got her noticed by the general public and made her famous. Later that summer, the release of Blow Your Mind brought her success in America, winning her an appearance on Tonight with Jimmy Fallon.  


Dua Lipa – 2018 onwards 

Lipa has since opened for Troye Sivan, made several hit appearances at Glastonbury and been a BRIT Critics’ Choice runner-up. Meanwhile, her massive single New Rules became the second song by a female artist to get a billion streams. But it was in 2018 that she really hit the big time. She won a Grammy for Best New Artist and took home a total of five BRIT awards.  

Like many artists, she knows that value of working alongside big names to increase profile. She has also collaborated with Martin Garrix, Miguel, Chris Martin, Sean Paul, Blackpink, Andrea Bocelli and Silk City. And her next album Future Nostalgia is due for release in April 2020, accompanied by a tour.   

Dua has a fantastic work ethic and she’s a great inspiration for emerging artists. Singing from an early age is always a great way to build up experience and develop your voice. But it’s never too late to start, especially if you have a talent lying dormant. If, like Dua Lipa, you write and perform your own music, make sure you’re getting out there. Upload it to YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and plug these links on your social media channels relentlessly. 

Related Questions 

  • Is Dua Lipa touring in 2020? 

Dua is currently touring with the Future Nostalgia Tour and will be performing a string of dates in the UK. Tickets can be booked via her official website.

  • What is Dua Lipa’s net worth? 

The singer is thought to be worth around £3 million as of 2020. Her super high streaming figures, tours, appearances and record sales all contributing to this newfound wealth. But, as Jessie J said, ‘it’s not about the money’. Lipa has always had a real passion for music.  

  • How long did Paul Klein and Dua date? 

Dua famously dated the member of American band LANY, Paul Klein after they met a British Summertime gig. They went out together for 5 months, before ending the relationship at the end of 2017. She also dated model and chef Isaac Carew in 2015 and is now seeing Anwar Hadid.  

Are you a Dua Lipa fan? Have you covered any of her songs on YouTube? If so, post a link below – we’d love to see them.