This segment originally aired Oct. 26, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Fourteen-year-old Jacob Sartorious already has the fanbase of a pop star. Now he’s trying to become one.
Sartorious first achieved viral fame at 11 years old by posting an anti-bullying Vine that blew up overnight. Since then, he has garnered millions of followers across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. But the lip sync app Musical.ly, used by 130 million people including roughly half of the U.S. teen and preteen population, is what jumpstarted his burgeoning music career.
“I just try to be myself as much as I can, and be as goofy as I normally am off camera,” Sartorious told VICE News correspondent Elle Reeve about his posts on the app. “Sometimes I like to pretend like I’m a model, and sometimes I incorporate that with my Musical.lys.”
Sartorious is popular among young girls for talking to his fans as if there were no screen between them. In his first song, Sweatshirt, he sings, “If you are not ready for my kiss, then you can wear my sweatshirt.”
Sartorious doesn’t make money from Musical.ly, and his YouTube accounts have generated more than $150,000 in the past five months. But he makes most of his money from touring, music sales, and merchandise. He has released just three songs.
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