Justin Bieber is no stranger to accolades. From winning countless music awards to breaking YouTube records and becoming the second most-followed celebrity on Twitter, Bieber is on one impressive winning streak. Now, he can add a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation award to his long list of career achievements.
On Friday, the Tribeca Film Festival, in association with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen and the Disruptor Foundation, honored 18-year-old Bieber, along with his manager Scooter Braun, were honored for breaking the music industry mold. Bieber, wearing his favorite varsity jacket, was on hand at New York University's Stern School of Business to accept his award.
"I don't think that I would be here without the Internet," said Bieber. With over 2.7 billion video views on YouTube, nearly 21 million Twitter followers and 41 million Facebook fans, the Internet has also influenced the way the young artist interacts with his young fans. "The fans feel connected to me," he said.
Braun discovered Bieber in 2008, after coming across a few of his videos on his YouTube channel. When asked what made him want to invest in the then-13-year-old boy, Braun replied, "I think the kid can sing. He just has a lot of soul."
However, it wasn't an easy road to superstardom. Braun had to resort to a few very "creepy" tactics, as Bieber explained, to get the young teen to work with him. "He called me, and my mom was like, 'Why am I going to trust a guy named Scooter?,'" Bieber joked to the crowd. "So she ignored him, and he started calling all of the places where he saw me sing in my videos ... it was some really creepy stuff. He finally found my great aunt, who I had never met before, to try and get in contact with me ... He went to school board."
"Either I was going to be the guy who watches videos of a young boy on the Internet and gets arrested, or I was going to sign him," added Braun.
Braun's persistance paid off. Bieber said that after a bit of praying, he and his mom were off to visit Braun in America. The two released their first video together -- Bieber's now-infamous cover of Chris Brown's "With You" -- in 2008. It became the first YouTube video to get over 100 million views, and it even caught the attention of Usher, who would later sign the young singer to his label.
"Ever since then, we've been taking the world by storm," said Bieber. And now, the teenaged phenomenon is paying it forward with his new artist Carly Rae Jepsen, who Bieber has now taken under his wing.
"Have you guys heard the song 'Call Me Maybe' by Carly Rae Jepsen?," asked Braun. "That's my artist," Bieber proudly told the Tribeca crowd.
On a recent trip to Canada, Bieber heard Jepsen's single "Call Me Maybe" and knew that he wanted to work with her. He created a viral lip syncing video with a few of his famous friends to help spread the word stateside. Over 35 million views later, and now Jepsen's single is No. 1 in eight countries, including the U.K.
"Basically, I went to the U.K. recently, and they were like, you're single is No. 2," he said. "I was like, 'What?' They said, 'Yeah, Carly is No. 1.'"