YouTube Star Austin Mahone, aka 'Baby Bieber,' Signs With Chase/Universal Republic

 Ben Lowy

Austin Mahone, the teen YouTube star profiled in the June 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, has signed a distribution deal with Chase Records through Universal Republic, the latter of which is home to Owl City, Florence + The Machine, the late Amy Winehouse and Dev.

The 16-year-old tweeted the news along with a photo of the big moment in which he is pictured alongside his mother Michele Mahone and management team, Chase Entertainment (see below). It was promptly retweeted 5,200 times within an hour. 

"We are so excited that Austin is officially signed and couldn't be happier with the deal," Michele Mahone tells THR. "Our patience has certainly paid off. We have been very blessed."

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According to label sources, Mahone's Miami-based managers, who also represent T-Pain, were asking for a so-called "360 deal" estimated to be worth $3 million to $4 million. That would include profit sharing in merchandising, publishing, licensing and, of course, recorded music, in addition to other ancillary revenue. The specific terms of his deal are not yet known, but the signing involves the creation of new imprint Chase Records, founded by Rocco Valdes, Michael Blumstein, and David Abram, whose distribution, marketing and radio promotion will go through Universal Republic. 

Mahone had been pursued by other major labels including Warner Bros., Island Def Jam and Epic. Although they're not labelmates directly, Justin Bieber and Mahone -- who has been called Baby Bieber -- now are contracted to the same company: Universal Music Group (UMG). Similarly, both gained attention far beyond their small towns (Mahone lives in Florida but hails from La Vernia, Texas) via homemade YouTube videos of them singing cover songs (in Mahone's case, that included Bieber tunes) and amassed a huge social media presence practically on their own. Mahone's Twitter follower count just passed the 1 million mark. On the touring front, he is represented by Paradigm. 

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Speaking to THR in June, Mahone's manager Valdes said he always was anticipating a seven-figure deal for his client. “If a record label wants to come in and participate, it’s going to take a lot,” he said. "There’s a certain premium a label will have to pay to come into something like this, where he already has everything set up.”

Mahone will celebrate the signing by performing his single "Say Somethin" on Live! with Kelly. The Sept. 20 appearance marks his network television debut.

Editor's note: the Mahone contract was previously labeled as a joint venture with Universal Republic. It is in fact a distribution deal. 

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin

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