Sound Check

Austin Mahone: Introducing the latest YouTube music phenomenon

Austin Mahone performing live at MuchMusic presents The Big Jingle 2012 concert at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, …

San Antonio, Texas-native Austin Mahone started playing drums when he was six-years-old, was taught how to play the guitar at 14 and last year, taught himself how to play the piano.

The now 16-year-old musician also sings and since creating his own YouTube channel in 2010 and posting covers of tunes by a variety of popular artists such as Bruno Mars, One Direction and Adele, the young artist has become an online music phenomenon.

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At press time, Mahone has almost 93 million views on his YouTube channel, 1.5 million "likes" on Facebook, almost 1.4 million followers on Twitter and fans who have been dubbed "Mahomies."

Not bad for a teenager who was just looking for something to do.

"I started about two years ago with my best friend Alex [Constancio] and we made the YouTube channel out of boredom pretty much and that's just what we did for fun, as a hobby," the singer told Yahoo! Canada Music. "Then I started making covers and people started to like my covers."

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Fast forward to this week: Mahone released his second single, "Say You're Just a Friend" featuring Flo Rida, which climbed to No. 63 on the U.S. iTunes chart, after a successful performance at MuchMusic's Dec. 2 Big Jingle at the Air Canada Centre. (The event will air Dec. 12 on MuchMusic.)

Over the course of his new career, Mahone has been compared to the likes of Canadian boy wonder Justin Bieber and become known as "Baby Bieber." He has even covered multiple songs on his YouTube channel by the 18-year-old artist such as "Somebody To Love" and the holiday tune "Mistletoe."

Mahone's rendition of "Mistletoe" has earned almost 11.3 million views on YouTube and it seems like the comparison to the Biebs doesn't bother him much.

"I met him a couple of months ago [and] he told me that no matter how successful or famous I get to keep working hard no matter what and I'll always be good," the "Say Somethin'" hitmaker said.

Adding, "It's cool because he's so successful and I'm flattered but it's annoying because I don't want people to just automatically assume that I'm just trying to copy him. They don't even give me a chance…We have different styles of music. He's got some R&B songs and he's going down a different path now, a more mature path and I'm still in the happy, young, pop [genre.] But, I am definitely a fan."

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After signing with Chase Records through Universal Republic in August 2012, Mahone started putting together his debut album and has assembled quite the production team for his record.

"I want to make amazing songs that my fans are going to like as a way of saying thank you for all of the hard work they've put in over the last two years to get me to where I am right now," he said. "I'm working with Bei Maejor, Mike Posner and RedOne. I'm excited, everyone's been really cool."

Next year, Mahone will be joining Taylor Swift as her supporting act on her upcoming "Red" tour starting on May 4, and for more information about how you can see him on the road, head here.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @GraceS35

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