Things move fast on the social Web, where a bedroom musician in Australia can go from uploading a video on YouTube to signing a contract with a major record label in the space of 18 months.
That's what happened to Nick Boundy, a 22-year-old classically trained musician whose parents bought him an electronic keyboard and a pair of headphones because they were tired of hearing him practice on the family piano all hours of the day. Today, Boundy, who goes by the name M4SONIC, announced a multi-album deal with Sony Music Entertainment and Ultra Music.
Boundy's tale is unusual, maybe even one in a million. But it still demonstrates the power of social media to raise the profile of obscure international artists at high velocity. This is the story of how Boundy became M4SONIC, inadvertantly produced the beat that formed the soundtrack to Ylvis' "What Does the Fox Say?", shared the stage with Kaskade in New York, picked up a sponsorship with a headphones manufacturer and is now on the launchpad to becoming electronic dance music's next rising star, backed by Sony and Ultra, two powerhouses in the EDM world.
It all began in the summer of 2012, when Boundy read Deadmau5's now famous diatribe about how DJs do little else aside from pressing buttons. Boundy had just scraped together $200 from his job as a part-time barman to buy a Launchpad, an square electronic controller and keypad consisting of 80 buttons made by Novation.
"I wanted people’s perception about live EDM to change," Boundy said. "The performance aspect is not necessarily about live. For me, it was about bringing back a more human element to something perceived as being more technical."
So he decided to make a video of himself playing the Launchpad. He uploaded it to YouTube on July 10, 2012, giving himself the name M4SONIC after the rapid-fire M4 carbine assault rifle. Lasting just under 3 minutes, the video showed just his hands dancing over the Launchpad buttons as if it were a piano. It garnered a million views within a few weeks. Boundy followed up with a second video on Dec. 5, 2012, entitled "Virus."
That same month, his videos were spotted by Grammy Award-winning Norwegian producers Stargate, who was working with Sia. As it turned out Sia was from the same Australian hometown as Boundy, Adelaide. Sia Tweeted "any adelaide people that know M4SONIC can you get me his email or number?"
This led to Boundy's first trip outside Australia, when he was flown to New York in January 2013 to meet Stargate. This was also the first time he set foot in a professional studio, Boundy said.
Stargate then flew Boundy to Los Angeles so all three could work together at Westlake Studios. Within days, they offered him a publishing deal with Stellar Songs/SonyATV. At the studios, Boundy produced a beat and left it with Stargate, who then passed it along to fellow Norwegian Ylvis to use in a promotional video for his new comedy show. That video was entitled, "What Does The Fox Say?"
While in Los Angeles, Boundy also met with Joel Zimmerman, Deadmau5's agent at William Morris Endeavor. Zimmerman offered to represent Boundy as his booking agent.
When he returned to Australia, Boundy met with co-founder of audio electronics company SOL Republic, Seth Combs. Combs was so impressed by Boundy's demonstration of the Launchpad that he asked him to join the SOL Republic team as a "Savior of Sound". In July 2013, despite Boundy not having ever performed live, SOL Republic asked him to New York to play at a private launch party for the new Motorola MOTO X phone and their SOL deck wireless speaker. It wasn't until Boundy landed in New York that he was told he would be supporting Kaskade.
"It is amazing to see how in 12 short months he'd gone from bedroom to stadium," Combs said. "Nick is pushing the boundaries of EDM with his live performances."
To date, Boundy has played only 12 live shows, touring alongside Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Zedd for Australia's largest EDM festival "Stereosonic" which attracts around 180,000 attendees.
It was at one of those shows that Boundy caught the attenton of Jon Hanlon, Sony's Director of Electronic Music. Hanlon had seen Boundy's videos and was already intrigued.
"When I sat with him in person, there was something in him I really liked," Hanlon said. "With EDM, it’s all about DJs. Nick had genuine artistic talent oozing out of him. The market needs something like this, someone who is doing something different and has a stage presence. He’s just got it."
Hanlon phoned Patrick Moxie at Ultra, and the two agreed to sign Boundy to a multi-record label contract.
Boundy credits not his talent but social media for his fortunes thus far.
"YouTube is the most important outlet for me to get the message out about how this music is made visually," Boundy said. "Without YouTube, I would be still be making music for myself in my bedroom."