On Tuesday evening (Nov. 13), Shawn Mendes and his manager Andrew Gertler sat down for a panel at Billboard‘s Live Music Summit to discuss Mendes’ rise to fame, his ways of connecting with fans, and how he has developed as an artist and performer.
The duo took us back to the very beginning, when Gertler first discovered the singer/songwriter on YouTube and the team began developing Mendes’ music career. On Tuesday, the international music sensation — named Billboard‘s 2018 Live Music Artist of the Year — opened up to a crowd of industry insiders at Beverly Hills’ Montage Hotel about his journey in the music industry and revealed some words of wisdom he’s received along the way.
Here are five things we learned from his Live Music Summit panel:
1. Taylor Swift Taught Him the True Meaning of Being a Performer
When asked what he learned from Taylor Swift, he shared a story from their time touring together. Before their first show, Swift asked if he was nervous. He told her he was, and she asked why. When he expressed that he was terrified of messing up onstage, she explained to him that everyone in the audience was there to have fun and support the singers. Nobody was there to judge. “Since that moment, I really learned what it meant to be a performer,” Mendes said. “It wasn’t about being perfect; it was about enjoying it. … She went onstage every night to have fun and enjoy it, because that’s what a live show is about.”
2. “In My Blood” Is His Favorite Song to Perform
Without hesitation, Shawn answered “In My Blood” when asked about his favorite song to perform onstage. “I wrote it with Kings of Leon inspiration after seeing them live and being like, ‘This is what music is. This is live, drums, people are clapping, it’s this big chant, this big anthem.'” He added of the song: “We do this thing at the end where we get the whole crowd singing the big anthem chant, and it’s just unbeatable. I’ve decided: I’m not gonna beat that feeling.”
3. He Has to Connect With the Audience at Every Show
Shawn took a moment to describe how important it is to “break the wall” onstage in order to fully connect with his fans. “Onstage, there’s this massive wall, and if you can’t break down the wall, nobody’s gonna feel that connection. So the second you get onstage, you have to smash this wall and it becomes this breathing thing, it’s a live thing that happens. It’s special.”
4. How He Transitioned From Vine to the Stage
Mendes started his career by posting covers on Vine from his bedroom, so his initial transition to the stage was intimidating. “When I first performed … and saw the other performers before me, I called Andrew and was like, ‘I need dancers! I need a track!'” His manager told him to play guitar and do what he became so beloved for on Vine, to which Mendes replied, “But that’s not good enough.” Andrew assured him that his specialty was his raw, stripped-down guitar talent and songwriting ability. Mendes explained how it was a process to become confident in his acoustic style among the flashy pop performers. “It took me about two years to really believe that.”
5. He Shared One of His Biggest Fears
Moderator and Billboard West Coast editor Melinda Newman asked Mendes: “What’s the last thing you do before you go onstage?” to which he promptly replied, “Pee … like 10 times.” The audience erupted into laughter as Mendes added: “I’m so worried I’m gonna have to pee so bad onstage, so I’m running back and forth before the show. … It’s actually a really big fear of mine!” To be fair, he shared a story about how he really had to go while performing, saying that it was extremely distracting and vowed that it would never happen to him again.
The Billboard Live Music Summit is taking place at the Montage Beverly Hills on Nov. 13 and 14 and will recognize and honor artists such as John Mayer and Sebastian Maniscalco, in addition to Mendes.