Several times I have been asked about the state of the music industry. You must understand that many industry insiders and artists feel that the music industry is broken beyond repair. Therefore, the question is posed not because they are interested in my response, but primarily to get me to solidify their argument. However, I state my opinion each and every time: that the music industry is not broken, but it has changed dramatically. The internet, has changed not only every industry, but also the way we live. I don’t know of any industry that has not changed because of the implementation of modern technology. In music, one big change is the way artists find initial success. Proper manipulation of social media has helped many young recording artists become an overnight sensation. One perfect example is our featured artist this week: Shawn Mendes.
Early this week I got a chance to listen to Mendes’ new album Illuminate, and it was nicely constructed. Before listening I heard many compare the young singer/songwriter to Justin Bieber. However, the only similarities to me are they are both from Canada, and both young recording artists. After that, I think the two are very different. Mendes sounds more like Ed Sheeran, the artist whom he draws inspiration. How did Shawn Mendes become an overnight sensation?
Mendes was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Karen, a real estate agent, and Manuel Mendes, a businessman, selling bar and restaurant supplies in Toronto. His father is Portuguese, while his mother is English. Mendes was raised in Pickering, Ontario, where he attended Pine Ridge Secondary School. He started posting cover videos on the popular social video app Vine in 2013 and gained millions of views and followers in a few months, becoming well-known for his six-second snippets of renditions of many popular songs. By August 2014, he was the third most-followed musician on Vine. Artist manager Andrew Gertler discovered Mendes online in January 2014, bringing him to Island Records where he eventually signed and released his first single “Life of the Party” in June 2014. “I was sitting in my bedroom and my sister came in and I said, ‘Hey, can you record this?,'” he remembers. He did a six-second clip of the chorus from Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me,” and “it blew up overnight”: 10,000 likes and as many followers by morning. Overnight Sensation? You bet!
On April 14, 2015, Mendes released his full-length album Handwritten, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with 119,000 equivalent album units, selling 106,000 copies in its first week. The third single from the album, “Stitches”, peaked at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first top 10 single in the US, and reached the top position on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. The song later reached number one in the UK. Sometimes overnight sensations tend to flame out quickly. Shawn Mendes was not just reaching a large number of people via social media, he converted them to fans. Mendes was listed among Time’s The 25 Most Influential Teens in 2014 and 2015. He also made his first appearance on a Forbes list with their annual “30 Under 30”, for 2016.
One of the things I notice today that is very different from in the past is the role of the record label. Especially the major record company. An artist like Shawn Mendes brings talent and fans to the table. Now the record company must bid for the services of the artist. I’m sure most record companies yearn for yesterday when they decided who they would make a star. Social media gives the young musician like Shawn Mendes the means to reach a potential fan base quickly, and this gives them a strong bargaining chip as they sit down with potential record companies. This reminds me of another young man I featured a while ago named Jacob Whitesides Doing It My Way. Many young fans might be familiar with him as he, like Mendes, made his way in music by way of social media. Interestingly, he decided to start his own label and keep all his rights to his music, as well as the revenue. Yes, the overnight sensations also realize that they can also find revenue streams.
As for now, Shawn Mendes has his second studio album on the market since September 23, 2016. He has also made his way through television and radio shows, giving interviews and performing live. He was great on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Mendes will continue to tour around the world, and all you fans of his reading will get an opportunity to catch a live performance at a nearby venue. Shawn Mendes’ fame has opened other appearance opportunities. He appeared on The CW’s The 100 third season première on January 21, 2016. He also signed with modeling agency Wilhelmina Models in early 2016. I have a feeling that Shawn Mendes will be an extremely visible star for years to come.
You know, I always research some of the words used each week. I want to make sure I’m communicating properly to all my readers. Therefore, I started this week by looking up the term, overnight sensation. As defined in the Urban Dictionary, overnight sensation: when a certain unknown person becomes famous in a supposedly short amount of time, usually a day or a week. The example: Miley Cyrus was an overnight sensation after she was cast for the show Hannah Montana. Will Shawn Mendes eventually enjoy a career like Miley Cyrus? Not impossible! One thing is sure; Mendes is on his way up.