Justin Bieber, the world’s richest self-made teenager, has now 47 million Facebook fans, 29 million Twitter followers and three billion YouTube hits.
As the world’s first social-media superstar, Justin Bieber, 18, built up a fan base of millions before he’d even signed a record deal.
His world record puts him ahead of Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Eminem.
“The genius of Justin Bieber is he used the power of social media like no other artist – and he doesn’t stop,” said Simon Cowell.
“Only a fool would underestimate him.
“I’ve met him a few times. He’s bright. The kid is more in charge than people think. I know this industry, I know what it takes, and he will be around for a very long time,” added Simon Cowell.
With a fortune estimated at $105 million – which is set to double in the next two years on the back of a world tour, a movie and the returns from numerous investments – Justin Bieber is part teenage heart-throb, part superstar businessman.
His latest album, Believe, topped the charts in the U.S. and throughout Europe, and his tour is sold out.
This amazing success has brought him a $6 million, 10,000sq ft house north of LA, a Disney-princess girlfriend, Selena Gomez, and a $750,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van customized with three high-definition TVs and a recording studio. About the only thing lacking in his fairy-tale world is a private jet.
“No way,” he says emphatically.
“It’s a total waste of money. You buy the plane, then you have to pay for storage, and on top of that you have to think about the fuel, the cost of the fuel – that’s maybe $4,000.
“Even hiring a private plane is like 50 or 60K. Once you get into that it becomes a habit – a bad habit.
“I’ll get one when I need it – if I have to go somewhere instantly – but you don’t want to buy a plane; it’s definitely not worth it.”
What makes this exchange truly surreal isn’t the fact that Justin Bieber barely even shaves yet – but that he’s only out by $100 on the cost of a tank of jet fuel.
“I never stop working,” says Justin Bieber.
“In what I wanted to do in music I’ve never had any fear. But now I’m at the top there’s nowhere to go but down; for me it’s about staying standing at the top.
“I’m not a kid any more – I’m an adult, I’m making the decisions and I want to keep on growing, and I believe I can.”
Unlike, for example, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber didn’t spring fully formed from a major TV show.
Instead, aged 12, he appeared from nowhere – or more precisely, from YouTube, where his mother, Pattie Mallette, posted videos of her son singing in a local competition and in their tiny basement apartment in the blue-collar town of Stratford, Canada.
Justin Bieber’s backstory is straight out of a Hollywood script. Troubled teen (Pattie Mallette) gets pregnant by her on-and- off boyfriend (Jeremy Bieber).
At 18, Pattie Mallette gives birth, and – besotted by her baby – turns her back on drugs and alcohol and embraces Christianity.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Bieber, 19, languishes in jail for assault. Jeremy Bieber and Pattie Mallette eventually separate.
At the age of two, Justin Bieber starts playing the drums, and soon he’s astounding his mother’s friends with his natural talent.
A hyperactive child, he teaches himself to play the guitar, piano and trumpet too, and begins performing in his home town.
Then, when Justin Bieber was 13, talent manager Scooter Braun spots him on YouTube. Scooter Braun flies him and his mother to Atlanta, attracts interest from R&B star Usher and gets him a record deal with Usher’s mentor LA Reid.
At 16, Justin Bieber’s debut album goes double platinum. His dad reforms and settles down, and his mother tours the world with him.
“What happened was I found something I wanted to be good at,” says Justin Bieber now.
“I wasn’t good at school because I had no passion for it. If I hadn’t found music my life would have been bad.
“My family are all poor, so the cycle would have continued. My kids would have been poor, and their kids would have been too. I feel I broke the cycle, and when you get to break the cycle, you don’t go back.”
Justin Bieber was originally painted as a pretty puppet, with Scooter Braun, now 31 and worth $23 million, pulling the strings.
“That’s the greatest misconception of me,” he smiles.
“People think I’m a product, that they found this good-looking kid, cut his hair nice and put Auto-Tune on his voice, wrote him good songs, taught him how to dance and then said, <<Here is a pop star for you>>.
“I am the furthest thing from that. I’m a musician; I play instruments, I write songs. I’m a businessman; I want to create an empire. I want people to know I don’t just sing songs. I’m the guy who signed the girl who just had the biggest single all round the world [Carly Rae Jepsen with Call Me Maybe; he brought her to the attention of Scooter Braun, who gave him a 50% cut when he signed her].
“I’m going to do movies – I’m talking with Mark Wahlberg about my first big movie. I invest in start-ups and IT. I have a very smart manager, but I always wanted to learn from him.
“The education I’ve had you couldn’t get in any school. If I want to be good at something I will be. I’m good at this.”
With all his money and fame Justin Bieber can do anything, except walk down a street without being mobbed. You wonder how he gets his thrills.
“On stage,” he says.
“Playing a song acoustically.”