Shawn Mendes; Island Records, Universal


Canadian singer and songwriter, Shawn Mendes, may have already had a strong social media profile when he came to the attention of Island Records, but his signing was based on artistry.

Island Records president David Massey says: “When Shawn sat down in my office, aged just 15, it was one of those three minute decisions. It was all about him, he just sat there and played his guitar and sang, and he was so engaging and so committed. I was utterly convinced by him. “

He also believes that Mendes is thoroughly modern example of where record company makes a vital contribution to the success of an artist. Massey says: “He had the ambition, the voice and he had star quality. Our job was to develop him. We had a song that we both really liked called Life of the Party, which we launched with a three-week campaign that engaged with his fans and made them part of the process.

“That culminated with a livestream of Shawn performing the track. From there it went straight online and went to number one in iTunes in the first 10 minutes. We sold 60,000 copies in the first few hours and ended up selling just under200,000 in week one. It was an amazing, innovative, creative and fun way of developing and marketing an artist organically. We were up and running and knew how to build on it from there.“

For both Island and Shawn, creating the right songs was essential. Massey says: “We introduced Shawn to a few great young guys, who have now become very successful, and he formed a creative collective around himself and they wrote all these great songs together. “We developed him as an artist and treated him as an artist from day one, not as a pop star, or a social media phenomenon. The partnership between us and Shawn has been extraordinary. It was an amazing synergy in terms of developing him and building his profile in a modern, new media way. I think that’s where a record label is so valuable for the artist. “

In 2015, Mendes’ debut album, Handwritten, went to number one in the US and has now clocked up 3.5million adjusted albums worldwide. Later that year, he enjoyed phenomenal global success with the track, Stitches.

His second album, Illuminate, confirmed him as a truly worldwide superstar, reaching the top three in all major territories. Steven Rowen, Senior Director, International Marketing, Universal Music says: “Stitches was his breakout track around the world. After that, the key was to coordinate the album, launch globally, get all the teams in the same room and plot the year ahead. They really made personal connection with Shawn and got to understand him as an authentic artist.

“In the past maybe we’d have had to wait a while to try to make this sort of impact around the world, but in today’s market, and with the way our territories and affiliate labels all work together, it means we could take a bolder approach.” The result has been that Illuminate has already sold close to 1.5 million units outside the US.

Massey concludes: “When record companies get involved early with an artist like Shawn and commit to true artist development, they can elevate that artist and create opportunities at the right time with the right support, building a career and taking it global. I think the difference a record company can make in those situations is exponential.”


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