Fifteen minutes of fame shrunk by 14 minutes and 54 seconds in 2014. Thanks to the Twitter-owned video app Vine, six seconds were all that a growing number of artists needed to achieve celebrity status. In the same way YouTube took a few years to produce mainstream musical acts from popular users like Justin Bieber, Karmin and Austin Mahone, Vine transcended its status as an amateur comedy platform in 2014, as looped six-second videos proved that rising musicians don’t need full songs -- or even a full minute -- to grab listeners (and A&R reps).
Vine’s first wave of stars, much like YouTube’s, was born through covers of hit songs. In March, folk-pop couple Us the Duo became the platform’s first major-label signing when its widely shared Vine versions of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and John Legend’s “All of Me” helped score a deal with Republic Records. Shawn Mendes’ bite-sized renditions of songs by A Great Big World and Lana Del Rey caught the ear of Island A&R rep Ziggy Chareton, who brought the Canadian teen to label president David Massey. Massey signed the singer in June, and Mendes scored a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with his debut single, “Life of the Party” -- largely thanks to his online fan base fueling strong sales numbers -- soon after. Mendes is now one of the label’s big bets of 2015, with a debut album due in the spring and a gig opening for Taylor Swift on tour in the summer. Massey views Vine as a vital new means of discovery, likening it to MySpace a decade ago. “It goes so much further than Twitter or Instagram in terms of bringing out personality,” he says. “It allows you to get a first impression.”