By Martina Talusan
In our generation, social media has become a tremendous part of society. Many music artists today have become known through social media such as YouTube. Artists like Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson were noticed because of the videos they posted.
But there is a new app to become known to the world of social media, and that is “Vine.” Vine is a type of social media app that allows people to upload six-second videos. Ever since its launch almost three years ago, many people are using it to make a name for themselves.
Two and a half years ago, Shawn Mendes was a student at Pine Ridge Secondary School in Pickering, Ontario. He played ice hockey and soccer and enjoyed long boarding (like skateboarding) with his friends. In June 2012, Vine—the six-second video-sharing service—was launched.
In August, he uploaded a clip of himself singing an acoustic chorus of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” Mendes had become an overnight sensation.
“The clip had 10,000 Likes when I woke up,” Mendes says. “It was a snowball effect from there.” He never expected the success that followed from then on.
At just 16 years old, the Canadian singer has already accomplished more than most young teenagers today. Within a year of consistently uploading vines, Mendes has already gone on tour, released one EP, and will debut his upcoming album. He is the perfect example of a rising pop star.
In Mendes’ early rise to fame, he drew a couple thousand of his fans to a meet up gig in Toronto. Mendes toured as a member of the MagCon Tour—a tour for social-media celebs—alongside other young artists and social media sensations. Ever since then, his fame grew more and more. Mendes currently has 3.8 million followers on Vine, 2.8 million on Twitter, and more than a million ‘likes’ on Facebook.
“I wasn’t doing it because I wanted anything to come of it,” Mendes says about the Vine clips. “I was just doing it for fun. But then I realized that actually no one else was using Vine like that, so I thought, I’m going to take advantage of this and try to make something of it.”
He continued uploading clips to Vine as he watched his follower count soar, and he would ask his fans/followers what they wanted him to sing. “We work as a team,” he said. “When I grow, they grow.”
Mendes is a part of the first generation to grow up with and on social media. He learned to sing more from watching YouTube covers than from listening to the original versions, and he taught himself to play guitar via YouTube.
“I would type in things like, ‘How to play beginner songs on guitar,’ and one of the first I learnt was ‘Hey, Soul Sister by Train,’” he recalls. “I taught myself these chords I didn’t know the name of and slowly started to get the hang. I was obsessed with it. Every day I’d play and think, I’m not good enough yet; I need to get better. Then I’d play for hours and hours.”
With no formal training beyond music lessons at school, he has been his own teacher since first picking up a guitar.
Mendes was signed to Island Records in June 2014. In July, his four-track debut EP, The Shawn Mendes EP, reached number one on iTunes in 37 minutes. The Ontario native’s first single, “Life Of The Party,” hit the number one spot on iTunes within an hour of its release. The single sold over 100,000 copies in its first day and broke into the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 25 charts with zero radio play, making Mendes the youngest artist ever to break the Top 25 with a debut single.
After the release of his EP, Mendes accompanied Austin Mahone—another successful YouTube star. Mendes was Mahone’s opening act for 30 dates during his first-ever tour.
With the release of his full-length upcoming debut album, Handwritten, and a gig as an opening act for Taylor Swift starting this spring, Mendes has definitely accomplished many goals with his hard work and dedication.
“I worry about one day not being able to tell the difference of whether I’ve changed because I’m getting older and more mature or because of all of this,” he says. “Success is absolutely nothing if you have no one to share it with. If you’re sitting in your mansion at the top of a mountain in LA by yourself, who cares what the view is? I worry about it getting too much and letting it consume me. But I don’t think I’d let that happen because I worry about it too much.”