Lisa Lavie : May 6, 1983 Canadian （ age ： 27 ）
Childhood and discovery
Lavie won a singing part in a school variety show at age 10. Lavie’s older brothers Michael, a hip hop dancer, and Danny, a disk jockey known around Montréal as DJ Devious were her family musical inspirations. She said she listened devotedly to Mariah Carey.
By age 16 she toured Canada as a backup singer with the French-Canadian hip hop group Dubmatique, performing before thousands. Also at age 16, Lavie had her own demo CD recorded. For years the demo CD passed from hand to hand in the music industry. Meanwhile, Lavie worked on the fringes of the music industry, including co-owning and managing Harmony Karaoke in Montréal in 2002.
In 2004 her demo CD reached songwriter-producer Ben Margulies, a co-producer of Mariah Carey’s first album. Margulies was struck by what he called a “one in a million” voice: “It was like the first time I heard Mariah.” Lavie initially thought Margulies’ attempts to contact her were friends’ hoaxes, playing on her childhood devotion to Carey.
After three months, Margulies and Lavie connected. After Lavie sang her original “Guys Are All the Same” to Margulies over a cellphone from a Montréal shopping mall, Margulies responded: “I heard something really special in her voice… I said, fly out here right away.” Lavie later wrote “I couldn’t believe that Mariah Carey’s producer had discovered me. From the age of 10 to 17, I don’t think I even listened to anybody else. Her voice and melodies captured me.” A planned three-day visit to Santa Barbara, California in July, 2004 evolved into a permanent move for the 21 year old Lavie.
 Breaking into the business
Early on, producer Ben Margulies expressed his estimation of Lavie’s potential: “Lisa has an undeniably brilliant tone and a vocal quality that is beyond my ability to quantify. … I’ve worked with a lot of great singers, and she’s got that something extra, something special… everything it takes to be a superstar.” “Every video she put up is of her just singing live, from the heart, with that incredible built in sense of believability and credibility.” Lavie developed her songwriting ability, her lyrics said to be based on her own life experiences. Lavie is listed as songwriter/composer on all songs of what was to become her first album, including solo songwriter/composer on three tracks.
Lavie placed songs on the soundtracks of the 2006 motion pictures Stick It starring Jeff Bridges (Lavie’s original song “If I Only Knew”) and The Guardian starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher (Lavie’s version of “Mockingbird”).
In August, 2006, Lavie signed as a songwriter/publisher with the performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Incorporated (BMI), formalizing her entry into the profession. She was featured in the “Hitmakers” section of BMI MusicWorld Magazine in spring of 2007. Lavie “attend(ed) the 56th annual BMI Pop Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on May 20, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California,” and “attend(ed) the 2008 Spirit of Life Award dinner honoring Doug Morris on October 15, 2008 in Santa Monica, California.”
Even after the movie soundtrack vocals, a career breakthrough remained elusive, relying on personal contacts and networking in media and record labels. Lavie later characterized praises from industry executives as enthusiastic but non-committal, leading Lavie and Margulies to pursue independent production of a first album.
 Creating her own buzz
In March, 2007, Lavie opened an account on the video sharing website YouTube, loosely mirrored by her MySpace page. She said she did not anticipate that her do-it-yourself video performances would advance her career: “I had no idea what to expect when I started uploading videos on YouTube.” She initially posted non-studio videos of herself singing her own original songs, including two videos of her singing inside a car. Lavie said she responded personally to so many viewer comments that she said she developed carpal tunnel syndrome requiring the wrist brace visible in her ET Canada interview.
Lavie’s responses to viewers backfired on September 11, 2007. YouTube software interpreted her many replies to viewer comments as computer bot-generated spam, and automatically suspended her account. Her YouTube fans initiated an online petition campaign, and Lavie’s YouTube account was reinstated two days after suspension.
Two of the songs performed in YouTube videos in 2007
Lavie would later remark that “Save Your Breath” was “probably my favorite song on the album.”
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Weeks after her channel’s reinstatement, Lavie’s studio performance of her original song “Angel” was featured on YouTube’s “front page” and attracted over one million views within days. For days surrounding October 3, 2007—when the “Angel” video achieved its 1,000,000th view—Lavie continued to interact with viewers online. But past were the days in which she could attempt to respond to every viewer comment: the “Angel” video alone had registered 10,000 viewer comments when it crossed the 1,000,000 view threshold.
During the period of the “Angel” feature, Lavie’s YouTube channel grew from under 4,000 subscribers (mid-September 2007) to about 8,000 subscribers (October 7, 2007), and, after ensuing television exposure in October and November, to over 11,000 subscribers (early December 2007). Total video views in the same periods grew from 188,000 to 1.79 million to about 3.3 million, respectively. In three and a half months, Lavie’s YouTube channel rose from 74th to 34th most subscribed YouTube musician of all time.
Skeptical of the value of YouTube views alone, the Globe and Mail commented that Angel’s YouTube views put the video in “not what you’d call exalted company,” noting that “an unsuspecting prairie dog whose five-second long glare at the camera became known as the Dramatic Chipmunk clip” had received three million views “in a matter of days.” However, after describing “real” world accomplishments of YouTube “stars” Esmee Denters and Ysabella Brave, the Globe and Mail article commented that “Lisa Lavie may have reason to expect big things.”
By the time of the Globe and Mail commentary, Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada had already dubbed Lavie an “Internet singing sensation” and “Internet phenomenon”, quoting her new designation, “the next Mariah Carey.” The following month, CTV‘s eTalk featured how “music stars” like Lavie would “get to the top on their own terms.” In that televised phone interview, Lavie explained how in today’s music business, to earn the confidence of skittish record labels, artists themselves have to create their own buzz.
After this media exposure, Lavie continued to use Internet websites such as YouTube (mainly), but also MySpace, Facebook, BlogTV and Twitter, to propagate that buzz. She continued to work, personally, on her own promotion and communication with existing fans. The YouTube Partner Program, a revenue sharing arrangement allowing creators and producers of original content to earn money from their videos, accepted Lavie. In February 2008, Lavie was one of three YouTube musicians invited to perform at the “YouTube Event” in New York. In March, 2008, Lavie’s video performance of her original song “Angel” was among six YouTube Awards finalists among all of that website’s music videos. In November 2008, Lavie performed at the San Francisco YouTube Live event.