1. This is Dawin, a 23-year-old singer and DJ-producer from Brooklyn.
2. His song “Just Girly Things” shot to No. 2 on the iTunes electronic chart in April.
Deservedly so, because it’s a JAM. The song aims to please everyone — the beat changes often, there are thrilling drops, and it’s a little slower (and more palatable) than most breakneck EDM.
3. Dawin’s success all started with this January Vine:
Dawin (full name Dawin Polanco) had virtually no industry connections when he put up the above clip, which set a snippet of “Just Girly Things” to a clip of Fresh Prince actor Alfonso Ribeiro doing his famous Carlton dance.
“It really took off the first week,” Dawin told BuzzFeed. “I remember receiving about 100 videos of people dancing to the song and making different memes to it.” According to a rep for Twitter, Vine’s parent company, Dawin’s “Just Girly Things” video has now been re-Vined 500,000 times. In January, there was a 300% increase in mentions of “Just Girly Things” on Twitter and Vine, and out of 124,000 tweets mentioning the hashtag, over 30,000 tweets contain Vine URLs, the rep said.
As a kid, Dawin played guitar and piano, but started pursuing music seriously when he was 16. Noticing that YouTube and Myspace were already crowded with aspiring singers and producers, he began uploading videos to Vine last year, and set making a viral Vine as a goal for himself. “Vine is a lot more effective,” he said. “It’s like a viral machine, so if you have the right content, people will catch on easy.”
But figuring out how to capture the attention of Vine’s audience took some time, and “studying,” Dawin said. He observed that some users remixed popular Vines with catchy music, and saw his in. “I was like, ‘Oh man, this is cool, I wonder if anybody’s even capitalizing on this.’” He scored with his “Just Girly Things” and Carlton Vine about two dozen videos later.
Dawin said that Vine caught on not just because its backing song was good, but because it’s premise — how goofy a friend acts when they’ve had too much to drink — was relatable. “To me the key thing wasn’t even the music, he said. “It was finding a relatable topic, something where other people could say, ‘Oh, this is me’ or ‘This reminds me of my friend.’” One of his earlier popular uploads, which blends Monsters, Inc. footage with Dawin’s remix of Eminem and Rihanna’s “Monster,” also follows this formula, acting out what happens “when you’re not in the mood to dance but your friend makes you.”
5. Ever since Dawin posted the first “Just Girly Things” Vine, people people have been uploading their own videos featuring the song. Some are clever…
6. Some are funny…
7. Some use the song to show off cool dance moves…
8. While others do…this.
This Vine got 57.1K re-vines, thanks to user Carter Reynolds’ 2.6 million followers.
9. And, pretty quickly, all those re-Vines landed Dawin a record deal.
On his own, Dawin released the full version of “Just Girly Things” on Soundcloud, where 10,000 people downloaded it for free in exchange for liking his Facebook page. Realizing he had lots of potential customers, he put the song up for sale on iTunes and Google Play independently on Feb. 1, where he said it was downloaded by around 500 people per day.
At that point, Dawin was approached by several record labels, whose talent-scouting A&Rs now regularly look to platforms like Vine to spot emerging talent. He signed with Casablanca/Republic in mid-March. The label re-pushed the single to iTunes; according to Nielsen, “Just Girly Things” peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic chart on April 6. It’s currently holding at 33 on the same chart, and has sold 35,000 copies — 5,000 this week alone — said Ben Adelson, Republic’s VP of A&R.
If Dawin’s story sounds familiar, it’s because his path to fame is becoming increasingly common. In the past year, fellow Republic signee Sage the Gemini, Atlanta troupe We Are Toonz, and oddball auteur Young Thug have all seen engagement from the Vine community translate into radio play and actual sales.
But where the virality of songs like Sage the Gemini’s “Gas Pedal” or Young Thug’s “Stoner” came as a surprise to those artists, sales of “Just Girly Things” are the result of a calculated strategy Dawin developed over time.
After selling a lot of singles off Vine buzz, Sage the Gemini failed to sell a lot of albums. But Dawin sees collaboration, not album sales, as the top measure of success. He said he now hopes to team up with some other top Vine users to further increase his word-of-mouth exposure and establish himself as a tastemaker in the Vine community and beyond. And, hopefully, to create more videos that people will want to transform and make their own.
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