If you’re an aspiring singer-songwriter, you may be wondering how the biggest stars of today became famous and landed their record deals. Billie Eilish has quickly gone from making music in her bedroom to breaking records at The Grammy Awards, following her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? in 2019.
She’s one of the hottest acts around, but how was Billie Eilish discovered and how did she get signed at such a young age? It certainly takes a special kind of talent to achieve this kind of fame and respect from the music industry.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you wanted to know about how Billie got noticed and made it big as an artist.
How did Billie Eilish get discovered?
Her debut EP took the music world by storm as recently as 2017. At the Grammy’s this year, Billie took home five awards, from six nominations, cleaning up and setting a record. One of the gongs was for the song Bad Guy, written with her brother and recorded in a bedroom at their family home.
She’s known for tracks including Bellyache, Bag Guy and Lovely (feat. Khalid). But who is Billie Eilish and what was her path to such phenomenal success?
Who is Billie Eilish?
Eilish was born on December 18th 2001, to a musician mother and actor father. She’s American, from Los Angeles, but has Scottish and Irish Heritage and an older brother Finneas O’Connell. Finneas is an actor and musician who co-writes much of the music. She’s just 5ft 3ins and known for her confident demeanour. Billie’s net worth is already around 6 million dollars. She’s also a passionate vegan, conservationist and environmental activist.
Eilish was homeschooled, something that many say contributes to her independent and unique style It’s her. She’s certainly carved out her own place in a tough industry and endeared herself to an entire generation. In an interview with NME she talked about singing from an early age:
“When people ask, ‘When did you start singing?’, I think that’s a dumb question. I was always singing and making up melodies and that was normal for our family to do that. I’d meet families who didn’t do that and I’d think ‘what the hell?’”
How did Billie Eilish make it?
She started writing from a very young age producing her first full song at 11, for her mother’s songwriting class. It was through the streaming service SoundCloud that Billie Eilish made it in October 2015. She recorded and uploaded a song for free download. It went viral almost immediately and later that year the song was released as her debut single.
Much of her appeal is in the way she puts her heart and soul into the songs, with a sense of poetry and deep meaning. Heartbreak, loneliness, jealousy and pain are recurring themes in her relatable lyrics.
How did Billie Eilish get signed?
Few people are picked up just from releasing music on a streaming platform alone. But it does happen from time to time. As Billie’s song attracted such attention from subscribers and listeners so quickly, she caught the eyes of major record labels. While landing a record deal is hugely competitive, talent scouts from these organisations are dedicated to discovering new talent.
This means anyone making a splash on streaming sites is likely to be noticed by someone, somewhere. Billie’s track was different, exciting and innovative, just what this label was seeking.
How did Billie Eilish get a record deal?
Releasing the home-recorded number as a full single she then went on to record her first EP: Don’t Smile At Me with Darkroom in 2017. This was just two years after being spotted on Soundcloud. Darkroom/Interscope Records (label for artists including Eminem, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Maroon 5, Selena Gomez, and U2) noticed this new young singer and snapped her up.
How old was Billie Eilish when she got signed?
Eilish signed with Darkroom/Interscope in November 2016 just ahead of her 15th birthday. This year she embarks on a major international tour: Where Do We Go? Her first studio album by the same name reached the number one spot in the Billboard 200 chart after being released in March 2019.
Bad Guy took number one place on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of the same year. And she’s the youngest female to have ever had a number one single at age 17.
Billie Eilish’s first song
The gifted young performer was writing and singing from a tender age. But it wasn’t until her dance teacher (she’s been dancing since the age of eight) asked her to record a number to choreograph to, that she took to SoundCloud and released a number, that became an overnight hit, going on to feature in the movie Everything, Everything.
What was Billie Eilish’s first song?
This first ‘proper’ song was Ocean Eyes. It was written by her brother, but he thought it suited her better, so Billie sang, with both of the siblings producing the track.
How did Billie Eilish get famous?
In an interview with Teen Vogue, Eilish talked about the meteoric rise of that first track:
“We had no intentions for it, really. But basically overnight a ton of people started hearing it and sharing it. Hillydilly, a music discovery website, found it and posted it and it just got bigger and bigger. It was really surreal. Then, Danny Rukasin, who is now my manager, reached out to my brother and was like, ‘dude, this is going to get huge and I think you’re going to need help along the way. I want to help you guys.’ We were like, ‘that’s swag!’”.
With so much new music appearing on platforms, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Sites like Hillydilly help music lovers find the hottest new tracks, sifting through tunes and producing recommendations, playlists and charts. It’s a great way to keep up with the latest trends. Hillydilly tends to prefer Electro Pop, Singer-Songwriters, Indie Pop, Indie Rock and Contemporary R&B genres. You can submit your music to them for consideration.
How did Billie Eilish get noticed by the public?
Billie has amassed over 54 million monthly listeners on the streaming service Spotify and over 50 million followers on Instagram. While her music is stand-out fantastic, she has many other aspects of her image that attracts fans. Her ability to emote songs is superb, and she rocks her own style – Eilish has often said she might have become a fashion designer, if not a singer. She also dances, has a distinct air of self-assuredness and has tons of attitude – especially when it comes to being a trailblazing woman in music.
“I’ve spoken a lot to female artists about this because if you’re not a female artist you probably don’t think about this. If I was a guy and I was wearing these baggy clothes, nobody would bat an eye. There are people out there saying, ‘Dress like a girl for once! Wear tight clothes you’d be much prettier and your career would be so much better!’ No, it wouldn’t. It literally would not.”’ Billie Eilish speaking to NME in 2019.
Who was Billie Eilish influenced by?
Early influences and the acts we listen to have a big impact on our music – this especially applies to songwriters. Eilish frequently sites Tyler The Creator as her biggest musical influence. She loves rap music and R&B including Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future and Brockhampton.
She has also been influenced by Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse. Acts such as Chance the Rapper, Ski Mask The Slump God and Xavier Omar make regular appearances on her playlists. Who are your biggest influences in music and what do they have and do that makes them so remarkable in your opinion?
Billie Eilish’s YouTube channel
The record-breaking artist has said that she likes to write in the treehouse in her backyard. It was made by her father and is a favourite haunt especially when it’s stormy outside. Taking just a ukulele and notebook, she finds this great place to to be inspired. As she creates her own music, she’s able to sing it exactly as she imagines it sounding, and can write numbers that suit her to a tee, as opposed to adapting other people’s compositions.
If you want to discover more of her work, check out Billie’s YouTube channel. With 26 million subscribers it’s the place to be.
How to get discovered in music
Would you like to become famous for your music? Remember the first goal is to produce amazing tracks, not to be a well-known face. You must have a steely determination to succeed, commitment to your work and show real talent. Billie’s strengths are a really unique style and the ability to write her own music. Creating your own, original sounds is far more effective for getting noticed than covers.
Billie was unusually talented and lucky. Expect to have to plug everything you put out there non-stop. Get it all over social media and gig wherever and whenever you can. It’s also worth submitting your tracks to blogs for consideration. Eilish didn’t have to do this, they found her. But it was through Hillydilly that the labels really sat up and took notice.
How to become a singer-songwriter
If you have an aptitude for writing, put it to good use. Find a quiet space to create, like Billie’s treehouse, where you can find inspiration. A&R (a label’s artists and repertoire department are responsible for talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of the artist) is always more interested in new acts who write potential hits.
It’s a good idea to set up your own home studio (if you need some tips and advice for how to do this, you can find lots of great info on creating your own recording space, here). This makes the world of streaming services your oyster. You can produce EPs for almost nothing, upload them and allow the public the chance to download them for free, for a fee, or as part of their subscription. Do make sure that your recording is of high quality though – you won’t be taken seriously with anything less. You may need to book some studio time, or get some professional help with mixing, to give it a polished finish.
The young artist is going from strength to strength. Billie is due to perform at this year’s Oscars and was chosen as the voice of the next Bond movie theme. You can keep ahead of her next moves by following Billie on all the major social media platforms: @wherearetheavocados on Instagram, @BillieEilish on Twitter, Billie-Eilish on Snapchat and on her Facebook page.
- How do I get signed by a label?
Get as many plays and downloads as possible across all the streaming services. Gig at Open Mic nights and enter competitions – these are the places talent scouts go to find new acts. Some people make it quickly, but for most, it takes years of plugging away. Keep at it and get out there.
- How can I become famous by singing?
Singers get famous quickly by winning major competitions, or like Billie, by being plucked from obscurity on music platforms. You’ll need to be the cream of the crop though and rarely do any singers make it with the aim of becoming famous. Focus on making amazing tracks.
- What percentage of musicians make it big?
It’s impossible to state exact figures. Musicians often operate on a part-time basis, and it’s unknown how many musicians there are in the industry at any given time. People’s definition of making it ‘big’ also varies. One thing is for sure, only the very few achieve great success like Billie’s.
Would you like to make it big like Billie and land a recording contract? Do you write your own songs? If so, post links to your tracks below – we’d love to hear them.