NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canadian teen pop star Justin Bieber may be just 16 years-old, but he’s already an old hand at promoting his music and image and handling the attentions of swarms of teenage girls.
Famously launched on video-sharing website YouTube and signed to a record deal at age 14, he now travels the world promoting his latest album “My World 2.0” and preparing for his upcoming tour.
In public he is often mobbed, but despite sometimes dangerous situations, he says fame doesn’t get to him.
“I definitely like girls so that’s a bonus to have girls all the time,” he told Reuters this week. “I just have fun with it, I am a teenager and everything’s just been a blast.”
His high-pitched voice, stylish clothes and distinctively blown-forward hair has led to hysterical mob scenes, including an incident in Sydney, Australia in April when his mother was knocked over.
“My fans, sometimes they overreact but, you know, it’s hard for them in the moment to always act right,” he said.
Bieber’s latest album debuted in March at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling over 283,000 in its first week, making him the youngest solo male act to top the chart since Stevie Wonder in 1963.
His first album, “My World” has sold 1,370,000 copies, and the follow-up “My World 2.0” has sold 1,155,000, according to the latest figures from Nielsen SoundScan.
His constant engagement with young fans through social networking, touring, promotion and TV appearances -- from Nickelodeon’s “Kids’ Choice Awards” to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” -- has been key to his rise.
“The reason Justin has been so successful is because he keeps his fans consistently engaged both through new media like Twitter and through traditional promotional channels,” said Billboard.com associate editor Monica Herrera, noting his upcoming first tour will mean even more exposure.
“Outside of maybe Lady Gaga, you’d be hard pressed to find another artist working as tirelessly as he is right now,” she added.
“LESS LONELY” FANS
Bieber said he loses count of how many Tweets he sends each day. His manager was arrested in March for refusing to warn fans on Twitter about overcrowding for Bieber’s appearance in a shopping mall.
At a promotional event in New York this week, Bieber sang his song “One Less Lonely Girl” to a 20-year-old who was a head taller than him after she won a Valentine’s Day competition held by florist 1-800-flowers.com.
“The fact that I am here means he doesn’t just have to stay in the (marketing) demographic of 13-year-old girls. I like him too,” said competition winner Lauren Kososki. “I really like looking up his music video and seeing his dance moves.”
Signed and mentored by rapper Usher to record label Island Def Jam Music Group, Bieber already deftly handles the media, giving little away while expertly posing for photos.
Asked what he talks about with a girl he likes, he calmly replied: “I don’t think its anybody’s business but mine and that girl‘s.”
And what does he look for in a girl?
“I like funny girls, people that make me laugh. You can have the hottest girl in the world but if you can’t really talk to them it doesn’t really make sense,” he said.
Bieber said he doesn’t have any plans yet for a third album and added that for now, he is focusing on his tour.
“I always miss my friends back home and stuff but you know, I am living my dream,” he said.
editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Jill Serjeant