Austin Mahone may have discovered music the old-fashioned way, but his rise to stardom has been undeniably cutting-edge. Begging his mom for a drum set at 6 years-old, he caught the proverbial "bug" after roaming around a local La Vernia, TX music store. Luckily, the drums ended up under the Christmas tree that year. Fast forward to 2010, Mahone started uploading covers of everyone from Drake and Justin Bieber to Ne-Yo and Bruno Mars to his YouTube page, and a massive following began to organically amass.
"I'd either check Billboard or iTunes Top 10 for the hottest songs, and I'd record my own versions," the 16 year-old explains. "That's how people began to find me online."
They found him in droves too. The subscriber, comment, and follower numbers snowballed as Mahone interacted with his audience directly.
"While I was in Chicago for a birthday party, I decided to do a little meet and greet," he recalls. "I tweeted for everyone to meet at The Bean. I thought there would be ten fans. A thousand showed up, and the cops had to shut it down. That was the moment when everything changed."
Since then, Mahone has come a long way from La Vernia—a town outside of San Antonio as he puts it, "with no Movie Theater or bowling alley". By 2012, he'd garnered 1.8 million Facebook fans, 1.5 million Twitter followers, 545k YouTube subscribers, and notched over 96 million views without a record label, marketing team, or any standard industry machinery. After quickly selling 100k downloads of his infectious song "11:11" independently, he had become a veritable phenomenon. However, he could back everything up on stage too. Selling out high-profile shows at the Best Buy Theater Times Square in New York and Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, he landed on Live! With Kelly & Michael, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, E! News and VH1, while appearing in The Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Everything is set to change again with the release of his forthcoming full-length debut for Chase Records and Republic Records. The first official single, "Say You're Just a Friend" featuring Flo Rida, updates the Biz Markie classic with a fiery, fresh, and fun little twist. Mahone's impressive vocal delivery pulsates over a big dance floor groove just before Flo Rida drops a sizzling verse. It's an immediately irresistible anthem.
"I want to make upbeat pop that you can party to," says Mahone. "I've always been a huge fan of Flo Rida, and I thought it'd be cool to get him on this track. It's about being friends with a girl that you like more than just a friend. You can't tell her though because it might ruin that friendship. It's something a lot of people can relate to. We had a blast with it though."
With a 2013 tour with Taylor Swift on the horizon and more music coming, everybody is about to have a blast along with Mahone though—especially the countless "Mahomies" worldwide who have fallen for him. "I hope everyone can connect with the songs and love them," he concludes. "I want to make music that people can listen to over and over again and feel good about."
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