“Social media changed my life,” Mario Bautista tells Billboard during a phone interview from Mexico.
And that it did. With more than 8 million followers on social media — combining Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — the 20-year-old is ruling Billboard‘s Social 50 chart alongside superstars like Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez.
In the past weeks, he’s been in the top 10 of the chart that ranks the most popular artists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Wikipedia, Tumblr and Vine. The chart’s methodology blends weekly additions of friends/fans/followers along with artist page views and engagement.
But who is this kid from Mexico City, and why has he become so popular? It’s a combination of many things, from his charming looks and his witty videos to his call-to-action campaigns on Twitter and super sweet messages to his fans. Plus, he’s a singer! Yeah, you could say that Mario is #blessed.
While we try to figure out and understand the popularity of Mario, he’s busy releasing perfumes and albums and gaining more followers by the minute. Billboard caught up with the “it” boy to talk social media, music and future projects.
When you say social media has changed your life, what do yo mean by that?
I mean that literally. I started doing videos of me singing, rapping or just doing funny things like two years ago and realized that people were actually watching me. Then one day I went to the mall and people wanted to take pictures of me. That’s when I knew that things were changing. Once I realized I was becoming popular, that’s when I knew it was time to drop my music and pursue my dream of becoming a singer. I come from a family of musicians. Actually my cousin is the famous singer Fey, and this is what I’ve been wanting to do since I was little. So I knew it was now or never for my music career, and that’s why I’m now solely dedicated to growing my social media and putting my music out there.
And you recently dropped your first album, Aquí Estoy.
Yes, I had been looking for producers and one day I went to a party and met some producers there who invited me to their studio and we created the first single, “Ven a bailar (Come Dance).” They asked me what I hated the most about going to parties and I told them that I hated when people didn’t dance, so that’s how we came up with this song. And the reaction from the fans was crazy! We went on a tour in Mexico visiting malls to sing my songs. First there were like 40 fans who showed up, and then there were thousands showing up.
You’re right next to Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez on the Social 50 chart. What do you have or what sets you apart from these big-name artists that has gotten you millions of followers?
I think people are changing. People want to follow real stuff and real people. Famous people seemed so unreachable, they seemed so far away. And people now just want to see normal people make it in the industry. Plus, people feel motivated to see a normal kid like me doing big things. I’m so happy about living my dream, and I want to share all of this with everyone. If you give good vibes to the world, the world gives you good vibes back.
You’ve got such a powerful tool in your hands with social media. Besides using it as a platform to launch your music career, how else are you taking advantage of social media?
There are a lot of things going on in my country that we don’t hear about on the radio or see on television, so I also want to use the Internet to inform the world about everything that is happening and really just spread love and positivity with my messages and videos — especially when it comes to the whole bullying situation and social class segregation that you see in Mexico. It’s so materialistic here. I noticed it when I went on a trip to Colombia. Unlike in Mexico, where going to the club means ordering the best bottles, having the most beautiful girls around you, in Colombia no one cared about that. It was all bout having a good time, dancing, hugging each other. Everyone was so nice to everyone. I came back from that trip knowing that if I wanted to see change in my country. I needed to be that change as well. We need to spread positive energy and just be good people.
So what’s next for Mario Bautista?
Well we’re starting the Aquí Estoy tour in the next few months in the United States, Mexico and other countries in Latin America. But I’m listening to my fans and asking what they want from me next. They tell me what to do. For example, they asked me for a perfume, very random, but I loved that idea and we did it. They are the ones that will determine what I do next.