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YouTube is thrilled to debut “Shawn Mendes,” its latest Artist Spotlight Story, created in collaboration with international pop phenomenon Shawn Mendes. The Spotlight Story gives fans an authentic and intimate look into Shawn’s life following the launch of his latest self-titled album. Mendes has grown to be one of the most popular musicians today with a massive fanbase that stemmed from his early YouTube uploads covering other artists.
“It was just about doing it for fun and posting videos,” Shawn recalls of his earliest YouTube uploads in “Shawn Mendes,” the latest installment of the Artist Spotlight Stories series from YouTube Music. “I wasn’t dreaming about stadiums, or Grammys. I was dreaming of my friends being like, ‘That’s very cool. I love that. You sounded great.’ I just wanted to be that guy who sang and played guitar on YouTube.”
Directed by YouTube Creator, filmmaker, and longtime friend Casey Neistat, “Shawn Mendes” looks back on Mendes’ journey from uploading covers to YouTube in his suburban-Toronto bedroom to performing on the world’s biggest stages as he gets ready to release his self-titled third album. Casey follows Shawn on the road and documents his rise to stardom through revealing interviews that showcase Shawn’s hard-working nature and youthful resilience.
With 15.7 million fans subscribed to his official channel, the three-time Juno winner is currently one of the biggest musicians on the planet. He’s racked up 2.2 billion views across YouTube in the past 12 months alone, with “Treat You Better” and “Stitches” both passing the billion-view mark — making him the youngest artist to have more than one video break nine digits. More recently, his 2018 anthem “In My Blood” charted on YouTube in over 15 countries and landed the singer three MTV VMA nominations.
YouTube Music’s Artist Spotlight Stories are intimate and personal video portraits of artists who are pushing the boundaries of creativity and connecting with fans in unique and powerful ways on YouTube. Recent YouTube Spotlight Stories include Janelle Monáe: “A Revolution of Love,” J Balvin: “Redefining Mainstream,” G-Eazy: “These Things Happened,” and Camila Cabello: “Made in Miami.” The series is meant to shine a light on artist journeys and how they have leveraged YouTube to be successful, in hopes that their stories inspire others in the music community to do the same.
YouTube is proud to present G-Eazy’s “These Things Happened” — a new Artist Spotlight Story that depicts the Bay Area rapper’s journey from the anonymous street corners of Oakland to landing multiple chart-topping records and nearly 5 million YouTube channel subscribers.
Directed by Rob Semmer, Creative Director for FADER, “These Things Happened” takes viewers behind the scenes of G-Eazy’s amazing ascent to chart-topping rapper. The Spotlight Story mixes concert clips, backstage interviews, and documentary footage of the rapper’s hometown, including the street corners where he used to hand out mixtapes more than a decade ago. Today, G-Eazy boasts more than 3 billion views across YouTube, with his recent hit “No Limit” reaching as high as #3 on the YouTube Music U.S. Top 100 Tracks chart and #1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart.
“It didn’t work the traditional route until I got it popping on my own on YouTube,” the rapper says. “I’m forever grateful for the opportunity that was presented to an artist like myself.”
Born Gerald Earl Gillum in 1989, G-Eazy was raised by a working-class family in California’s Bay Area. As a teenager, he was inspired by the region’s burgeoning hyphy hip-hop sound, producing bedroom mixtapes, which he sold along Berkeley’s Telegraph Ave.
After years of self-released recordings and accompanying tours, including tour diaries posted to YouTube, G-Eazy had his breakthrough with “Been On.” The song is pure G-Eazy in that its tight lyrics flow over a hazy beat. The video was instantly iconic: a single slo-mo shot of the rapper smoking in black and white. The clip has tallied over 70 million YouTube views, and its success online helped break G-Eazy to the masses. A follow-up video, “Me, Myself & I,” featuring Bebe Rexha, landed a top 10 slot on the Billboard Hot 100.
G-Eazy’s latest LP, “The Beautiful & Damned,” reflects on the fame that he’s achieved since the album release. “These Things Happened” picks up at present day, staying by the rapper’s side as he promotes the album and plays shows in support of it. A record-signing event even takes him back to the Bay Area, where he meets fans at Berkeley’s Amoeba Records.
“I remember those shows in Berkeley at La Pena,” G-Eazy recalls. “We sold out La Pena with like 200 people. It’s not even a venue. They call it a cultural center. They booked me ‘cus no one in the Bay would book me.”
“These Things Happened” captivates in part because even in the La Pena days, G-Eazy was documenting himself, shooting footage, and uploading it to YouTube for his fans.
“If you’re not active on YouTube, if you’re not visible, if you’re not giving that window into your life at all, then you’re just disappearing,” he says.
For now, G-Eazy doesn’t have to worry. “These Things Happened” ends a few blocks from where it started. Back in New York, with G-Eazy all grown up, a star around the world. This time he gazes up again to see himself—and his YouTube channel—advertised in a new billboard high above the street.
“It’s the age of access,” says G-Eazy. “YouTube provides a peek into your life, into your world, into your process. You close that window for too long and you run the risk of losing your audience.”
“It’s an honor to partner with and help tell the story of an artist with such a clear vision,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “It’s equally rewarding to work with a label like RCA that is so supportive in collaborating to propel G-Eazy and bring context to his journey.”
–YouTube Music Team
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In 2009, my new quilting business was struggling to get off the ground. The recession had hit my family and my town of Hamilton, Mo., pretty hard and I had started Missouri Star Quilt Company as a way to earn retirement money while doing something I loved. But like almost every small business at the time, Missouri Star wasn’t setting the world on fire. To help get the word out, my son Al suggested we film some tutorials and post them to YouTube.
“Sure,” I told him. “What’s a tutorial?”
Back then, I had never even visited YouTube, but I decided to try it out. I set up my sewing machine in a corner of the shop and Al began to shoot our first video on a handheld camera. We didn’t even bother to close the shop because foot traffic was so slow. Those first videos didn’t always look super spiffy, but I think people appreciated that I was making a hobby that sometimes feels intimidating to learn, more approachable.
Week by week, we filmed new tutorials and though it took a little while, we started seeing our views and subscriber numbers go up. First we hit 1,000 subscribers, then 10,000 subscribers. And while our online following was growing, we started getting some new visitors in real life, too. People were popping into our store from as far away as Texas, Virginia and Mexico telling me how they’d seen our videos on YouTube and wanted to visit me in person. We couldn’t just film the videos during store hours anymore; the foot traffic had picked up! And it was coming from everywhere.
By 2012, we had over 25,000 subscribers and we were regularly getting visitors to Missouri Star from around the world. Our sales were growing quickly and we decided to use the money we were earning to help invest in our community. One by one, I had seen businesses in Hamilton pack up and leave as the recession got worse and I wanted to change that trend. We decided to buy up a few of those boarded-up buildings to give our visitors an even richer experience.
We opened a store for Civil War-era prints, a store for modern quilt fabric, a store for novelty patterns and still we kept growing. Today, Hamilton is the Disneyland of quilting. We have 12 quilting stores operating in Hamilton and we get busloads of visitors coming to our small town almost every week. We didn’t just stop at quilting, either. We’ve partnered with talented chefs, cooks and bakers in our community to help them open their own business. In small town of 1,800, Missouri Star Quilt now employs over 400 people.
I remember having a dance party with my family when we sold seven orders in one day. Now we ship as many as 5,000 orders a day. Missouri Star Quilt Company has grown from one woman with a quilting machine to the largest seller of pre-cut quilting fabric in the world and the biggest employer in our county.
None of that could have been possible without YouTube. Our channel allowed us to turn our small business into a global business. We now have over 350,000 subscribers on YouTube, from countries throughout the world.
But as great as all those numbers are, the thing that makes me happiest is what I did in that very first video: teach someone how to quilt. I’ve been lucky to find something I truly love to do and I’m so happy YouTube has given me the opportunity to share that passion with others. It’s meant the world to my small business, to my community and to me.
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