YouTube Star Gabbie Hanna Talks Viral Success of Debut Single, 'Out Loud': 'There's For Sure An Album Coming'
Before releasing “Out Loud” on Thursday (Sept. 8), intended as her first -- and only -- single, YouTube comedy star Gabbie Hanna gave her manager a warning: “I don’t plan on really becoming a musician,” she recalls saying. “I’m not that good; I’m not really a singer.”
But when she saw the track hit No. 3 across all genres on the iTunes charts yesterday -- with its lyric video notching more than 2 million views on YouTube -- it's safe to say Hanna changed her mind. In fact, the 26-year-old comedic vlogger who recently scored a correspondent gig for MTV’s revival of Total Request Live says that after recognizing her potential through the viral success of "Out Loud," she’s planning to release a full studio album.
“I wanted to shock people; I wanted to step outside of the YouTube world and do something that I actually thought was a piece of art,” Hanna tells Billboard. “And people should look forward to more in the future.”
The new venture into music adds to Hanna's impressive resume, which began in 2014 with the six-second comedy videos she posted on now-defunct video platform Vine. Now signed to talent agency CAA, Hanna hosts video series "The Gabbie Show" on YouTube, where she counts more than 4 million subscribers, and is set to release a book of poems called Adultolescence on Sept. 19.
In fact, "Out Loud" draws from the themes of loneliness and heartbreak that weave through Hanna's poetry, and was originally written as a one-off promotion for the book. Though Hanna enlisted the help of a producer friend, Bruce Wiegner, to begin work on the single in July, the project was for the most part spontaneous: "We winged it, completely, 100 percent," she says, laughing.
But the track and its tear-streaked video are no joke, exploring loss through emotive lyrics and a sultry, dark melody that builds up to a tidal wave of a chorus. And if listeners find it hard to reconcile the track's theme of loneliness with Hanna's 1.3 million Twitter followers, well, that's kind of the point.
"I want my fans to see that side of me, and I want them to realize that there’s this vulnerability to me." Hanna explains. "That's one thing I’ve learned over the past couple years, is to just own your emotions, let people know when you’re not okay, and be okay with not being okay."
Looking back, though, Hanna says she was hesistant to dip her toes in the music world, noting that other Internet personalities-turned-musicians often face scrutiny for stepping outside the lines.
"I never wanted to be the person that was like, 'oh, here’s a YouTuber just trying to cash in and do stuff that they shouldn’t be doing, they don’t stay in their lane,'" Hanna explains. "But once we actually started working on the song and I heard it, I was like, this is going to be an actual piece of art that I’m going to be proud of."
If you thought the lyric video alone was emotional, prepare for even more feels. Hanna is promising a brand-new music video with a major plot twist, set for release later this month. "You’re going to be so shooketh," she says of the visual, adding that "there's for sure an album coming" as well.
Hanna is set to perform the track -- her first live singing gig ever -- during online video convention VidCon in Melbourne, Australia this weekend, after which she'll return home to California for a few weeks of rest before the Adultolescence book tour kicks off later in the month. After that, she'll appear several times per month alongside fellow social media stars Eva Gutowski and Gigi Gorgeous as correspondents on TRL, which kicks off Oct. 2.
"September’s a good month," Hanna says, laughing. "I’m having a good month."