The True Justin Bieber

justin bieber

Justin Bieber burst onto the music scene in 2009, his appealing pop songs and fresh-faced charm making him a teen idol in the eyes of many preadolescent girls. His early romantic relationships and skirmishes with the law drew considerable tabloid attention. But as he entered his 20s, it seemed as though he was intent on cleaning up his act and reclaiming the squeaky clean image that made him famous.

In the spring of 2017, when he was working on his fifth album, Bieber was jogging through a forest outside the Canadian city of Toronto and fell down on one knee for the first time in front of a waterfall. He was alone, except for the photographer filming the moment. Then he looked up, caught his breath and smiled. It was a rare glimpse of a star who seemed unbothered by the next performance, interview or annoying paparazzi trying to capture another picture-perfect moment.

It was also a glimpse of the man behind the myth: a talented, thoughtful and generous young artist who is navigating his way through the pitfalls that come with the territory. That he is able to remain true to himself and his art, and to give back in the process, speaks to his strength as a person.

The day I visited him, Bieber was at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, after arriving on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. He was tired, his publicity schedule had been locked in for weeks and he was anxious to get on with the concert. He was wearing a plaid hunter’s cap, the front flap up and the fuzzy ear flaps down.

He looked at the crowd of roaring fans and took in the scene. This was his moment to shine, and he wasn’t going to let anything spoil it.

In 2006, the 12-year-old Bieber entered a local talent competition in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, finishing second but earning nearly $3,000. His mother soon began uploading homemade videos to YouTube of him singing popular rhythm-and-blues (R&B) songs, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The videos went viral, attracting attention beyond their originally intended audience.

Scooter Braun, an Atlanta-based talent manager, stumbled on them while searching for other singers and was immediately impressed. He began working with Bieber, who signed with a record label.

In addition to his publishing copyright, Bieber owns a share of the rights attached to the recordings of his songs — sometimes called master recordings or neighbouring rights — which are managed by Hipgnosis Songs Capital, an investment company that buys catalogues and manages their royalties. He shares these rights with his publisher and recording label, which both get a portion of the performance income from the songs. As a result, Bieber receives an average of $1.5 million per tour and is paid millions in royalties every year. He also receives a large percentage of the profit from licensing his songs for television, movies and commercials.