Don’t be shocked when you spot a tour bus rolling via residential Barrhaven this weekend. It is likely to be ferrying one of the world’s largest pop stars to a pre-show barbecue in a pal’s dad and mom’ yard.
The big star, of course, is Shawn Mendes, who’s on the town to play Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday.
Not fairly so well-known is the Ottawa-born pal. That’s Justin Stirling, who grew up in Barrhaven however is now primarily based in Los Angeles and is the newest member of Mendes’s management team. Last yr Stirling was named head of advertising and marketing for AG Artists, a small-but-mighty artist-management firm based by Andrew Gertler. Mendes is their star shopper.
It’s a dream job for Stirling, a graduate of St. Joseph High School in Barrhaven who dropped out of college to go on tour with one other younger pop star, Cody Simpson. He began by promoting Simpson’s merchandise and labored his approach as much as tour supervisor.
Along the approach, Stirling befriended everybody who crossed his path, together with stars like One Direction’s Niall Horan, singer-songwriter-actor Selena Gomez, mannequin Hailey Baldwin (aka Mrs. Justin Bieber) and extra. Many of them pop up commonly on Stirling’s Instagram feed, to the delight of his 129,000 followers.
In reality, some of his high-profile buddies have already visited Barrhaven, together with Gomez, who was invited to the Stirling dwelling for a barbecue the final time she was on the town, and Simpson, who stopped by the home when he was in the space, arriving on his tour bus.
So how does a child from suburban Ottawa break via to the higher echelons of the music ? According to Stirling, it helps to begin early, work onerous and be artistic in your strategy.
He was 14 when he began plotting his profession, starting with Canada’s annual Take Your Kid To Work Day. Uninterested in the work of both his father, a realtor, or mom, who works for an structure agency, he contacted Josie Fenech, then the co-host of the morning radio program on Hot 89.9 and requested to be her child for the day. She agreed.
The job-shadowing led to a part-time job at the station, which he juggled along with his different part-time job at a Barrhaven grocery retailer. He additionally did a stint on the Ottawa avenue team for main label Universal Music Canada. Putting up posters at venues was one of his duties.
“I would poster the venue before the shows, and there was always this hope in the back of my mind that if I postered well enough, they would take me in to meet the artist,” he recollects. “Which happened a few times.”
In these early days, Stirling would additionally sit on the ledge behind Canadian Tire Centre to look at the vehicles unload earlier than a live performance. It wasn’t the artist he was making an attempt to see, although; he was extra considering the tour supervisor.
“I was very intrigued by what was going on behind the scenes because I don’t have any musical ability myself,” Stirling stated, pointing to Justin Bieber for sparking that curiosity.
“He was the first artist to put his team on a public level. His manager was famous, his road manager was famous, his bodyguard was famous. For people who were interested in the music business, you could follow the careers of all these people, not just the artist,” he stated. “It gave a whole added dimension to the thing that was so interesting to me, so I focused a lot of my time on studying anyone behind the scenes.”
Stirling quickly realized he wanted to be in an even bigger metropolis. After commencement, he moved to Toronto to check communications at York University, and stepped up his marketing campaign to satisfy necessary music-industry figures. When spamming them with emails and messages didn’t work, he got here up with a unique strategy, pretending to be a author searching for a function interview with Simpson’s supervisor, Matt Graham.
The ploy labored and Stirling obtained his interview with Graham, coming clear at the finish of it. Impressed at the hustle, Graham supplied the then-19-year-old the merch job on Simpson’s North American tour. To his dad and mom’ dismay, Stirling dropped out of college and as an alternative spent the subsequent 4 years with Simpson studying the enterprise.
He additionally labored for Geffen Records and the artist-management group at Electric Feel, growing a repute as a well-connected problem-solver who may prepare nearly something, from L.A. restaurant reservations to brand-building offers. Thanks to his Ottawa roots, he remained a down-to-earth particular person who’s conscious of how far he’s come, and nonetheless likes to hang around along with his highschool buddies when he’s on the town.
Stirling was invited to affix Gertler’s firm in the lead-up to final yr’s launch of Mendes’s third album. As head of advertising and marketing, Stirling oversees the advertising and marketing and promotion of Mendes’s music, movies, excursions and extra.
Without a doubt, it’s been a landmark yr for the 21-year-old hitmaker, a local of Pickering, Ont. He swept this yr’s Juno Awards, was nominated for 2 Grammys and is headlining the largest tour of his profession, together with his first stadium present in Toronto on Sept. 6.
For Stirling, although, the Ottawa present might be particular.
“It’s kind of a full-circle moment,” Stirling says, recalling the hours he spent postering and staking out the loading dock. “We’ve been to so many exhibits, so many video games there, however once you’re an precise half of the manufacturing, half of the artist’s team, it’s a unique feeling. It’s actually particular to share it with my dad and mom.
“There was some doubt once I first left college, however these are the moments that make them go, ‘Wow, this really worked out for you.’ I would like all my family and friends to take pleasure in the present a lot.”
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