His song "Just Girly Things" shot to No. 2 on the iTunes electronic chart in April.
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.