Photo: Hunter Paye
GLASYS meets T-Pain: Why social media is the new A&R
The internet is a strange and fascinating place.
The likelihood of an encounter with a celebrity — especially an anonymous encounter — has become several orders of magnitude more likely for the average citizen. Furthermore, the opportunities offered by decentralized platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud mean that the chances of a young artist's discovery by one of their idols have likewise increased immeasurably.
Take the case of Gil Assayas, a Portland, Ore.-based vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Performing under the stage name GLASYS since late 2016, Assayas has built a strong hometown following, earned endorsements and recognition from major instrument manufacturers such as Dave Smith Instruments and Nord Keyboards, and built a successful YouTube presence.
After he was approached by software company Polyverse Music to create a demo video for a new vocal processor, Assayas posted the video to his YouTube channel, and then to the popular content aggregator site Reddit.com. Within 24 hours of posting the video, the top comment on Assayas' post was a word of praise from none other than two-time GRAMMY winner T-Pain.
"At first I was skeptical that it was really him, but other Reddit users confirmed it," says Assayas. "I was really excited by his comment. … You don't see many artists of his caliber browse a site like Reddit, respond to fans and share their posts on his social media accounts."
Assayas and T-Pain have continued to communicate via Twitter, with several other artists chiming to wish the young keyboard player well and praise his talents.
Assayas' experience adds to a growing list of young performers who have been discovered online or had their careers amplified through social media support by GRAMMY winners.
Atlanta-based R&B singers Chloe x Halle experienced a similarly life-changing moment in 2014 when their cover of Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts" was shared by the 22-time GRAMMY winner via her Facebook page.
The young sisters' video quickly racked up some 12 million views, and less than a year later Beyoncé signed the duo to her new management company, Parkwood Entertainment. Since linking up with Queen Bey, Chloe x Halle have traveled the world as the opening act on the European leg of her Formation World Tour, released their debut EP, Sugar Symphony, and collaborated with Bey on her Best Urban Contemporary Album GRAMMY-winning LP, Lemonade.
Canada's Maria Aragon had her first brush with super-stardom at just 10 years old, when she posted a video of herself covering Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" to her sister's YouTube channel. The video was initially discovered by gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who sent it to the six-time GRAMMY winner and her team. After retweeting the video to her own massive fanbase, the Fame Monster further shocked the young singer by calling into a local radio show hosting Aragon for an interview.
After the two connected, Aragon was invited to join Gaga for several duet performances of "Born This Way," including the Toronto tour date of her 2011 Monster Ball Tour. Aragon was later signed to a major label and continues to release music.
The original videos for "What You Need," "Loft Music" and "The Morning" that The Weeknd — aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye — uploaded back in 2010 have since been taken down, but their impact remains.
After stumbling across three demo tracks The Weeknd uploaded to YouTube, Drake quickly posted all three to his OVO Blog with the simple preface, "Introducing The Weeknd." Thereafter, Drake took to Twitter to promote the singer, and rumors began to swirl of a possible signing to the rapper's OVO Label.
Following their meeting, The Weekend contributed five songs as a writer or featured artist on Drake's multiplatinum and 2012 Best Rap Album GRAMMY-winning album Take Care. Thereafter, The Weekend made his presence further known as an internationally famous solo recording artist, winning two GRAMMYs at the 58th GRAMMY Awards for Best R&B Performance for "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind The Madness.
So what do these stories of other artists' past successes mean for a performer like GLASYS? Only time will tell. If history is any indication, a chance online encounter with a supportive artist can easily be the spark that ignites a huge career when all parties involved are willing to go the distance.