In the past seven days, more than 11 million people have heard Catie Turner’s voice.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter’s melancholy, deeply personal single “Prom Queen” opened and then overlaid the entire four-minute trailer for Shane Dawson’s newly premiered docuseries, The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star. Uploaded to YouTube exactly one week ago, the trailer has brought Dawson (who has 22.5 million subscribers) 11.8M views and counting.
As for Turner, she tells Tubefilter that since trailer dropped, she’s seen more than 800K new “Prom Queen” streams on Spotify, as well as around 40K new YouTube subscribers, pushing her channel to 170K total.
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Turner is from just outside Philadelphia and is a full-time musician — “basically a fancy term for unemployed,” she jokes, adding that she’s not attending college but is “majoring in music in the college of life.”
She’s also been in the limelight before. Her working relationship with Dawson began thanks to her impressive run on American Idol last year, undertaken while she was still a high school student. She auditioned for the show with her own song “21st Century Machine,” and her performance prompted judge Katy Perry to call her a “genius songwriter.”
Turner snagged a straight flush of yeses from Perry and fellow judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, sending her on to the show’s Hollywood rounds, where she made it all the way to the competition’s top seven before being struck out.
Dawson was far from pleased when she was kicked off the show. “Catie Turner is a f-cking icon,” he tweeted. “Maybe I’ll recreate the finale in my living room for a video and crown her the winner myself and she can sing for me and my mom.”
Catie Turner is a fucking icon. she was my hope at having another kelly clarkson finale moment and i’m pissed. maybe i’ll recreate the finale in my living room for a video and crown her the winner myself and she can sing for me and my mom? pic.twitter.com/HF7QajvF29
— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) May 7, 2018
At the time, “I was freaking out, because Shane Dawson is who I grew up with on YouTube,” Turner says. Following that tweet, she and Dawson stayed in touch. Then, in March, Dawson asked to meet her in person. It was during the meetup that he revealed he wanted to use “Prom Queen,” which Turner had released March 1, as the backdrop for his upcoming sequel series with Star.
“So I go to Shane Dawson’s house and we’re just talking like old friends and it’s really nice, and then he just brings it up,” she says. “It was just so overwhelming. Overwhelming in a good way. It was honestly one of the coolest things that’s happened to me.”
Prior to premiering the trailer with “Prom Queen,” Dawson actually ended up using another of her songs, “Breathe,” in his video about Eugenia Cooney. That song, along with “Prom Queen” and Turner’s American Idol audition song, are her top three most listened to songs on Spotify (2.5M streams for “21st Century Machine,” 1.2M for “Prom Queen,” and 691K for “Breathe”).
“So basically I owe Shane Dawson and American Idol for my career,” Turner says.
Turner gave Dawson permission to use her song and footage from its music video for free, something she says is fine with her. “I gave him permission to use it because, like, he was doing me a favor,” she explains. “He works so hard. I’m like, listen, Shane, your ‘payment’ to me is the whole platform of YouTube you’ve introduced me to.”
Dawson has been soliciting indie musicmakers’ work for inclusion in Beautiful World for the past month or so. After dropping the first episode of the series yesterday (currently No. 1 on Trending with 8.4M views), Dawson released an 11-track Spotify playlist featuring all songs used in it, including Turner’s. Other artists who offered up their songs for the episode include Hoodie Allen, Rebecca Black, and Qveen Herby.
Some folks have criticized Dawson for requesting that artists let him use their songs in exchange for exposure rather than monetary compensation. Dawson responded to concerns early last month, saying that he has helped “countless” artists, and that he promotes creators whose work he uses “heavily and with care.”
the amount of youtubers and artists i have helped over the years is countless. when i use a song i promote the artist HEAVILY and with care. if a song is made for me specifically then i pay very well and i always have. ask any artist i’ve ever worked with. 👍🏻 https://t.co/xFLXJ7bC5u
— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) September 7, 2019
Turner is planning to move to Los Angeles, and has a new single slated for release this month.