Troye Sivan’s billion-strong YouTube channel was just the beginning of nearly a decade in the spotlight. The Australian singer, who has a dozen hit singles to his name, has grown into a modern multi-hyphenate walking in a fashion show for Rihanna, and conquering tv and movies, including new roles on HBO drama The Idol and in the Paramount+ film Three Months.
For Sivan, who joins Spotify for Artists' Kim Taylor Bennett on our Best Advice podcast, some of the most important lessons he’s learned have come from his start. “That YouTube time was really, really informative for me as a person and as an artist,” he says, emphasizing how clutch it is to create for yourself first no matter how famous you get.
Listen to his full episode here, and read on for some of his key takeaways.
Me, Myself, and I
“Do as much as you possibly can by yourself,” Sivan advises new artists. “Don’t assume that because you’re getting signed there’s going to be this crazy infrastructure to make you a star overnight. In a dream scenario, you’re already coming to the label with some sort of pull behind you. I had my YouTube audience, so that made the label trust me more than somebody they had completely plucked out of obscurity. That leeway that I had was super important.”
“The ultimate development deal, in my eyes, is to do one with yourself,” he would tell an artist on the cusp of uploading their first song. “Take this time to really, really learn about what resonates.”
That idea even extends to how Sivan kickstarts his songwriting process. “My little trick that I do is say to myself that this never has to come out,” he explains. “You create that little safety for yourself [that] allows you to just write what you actually want to write… Try it. [Say,] ‘I’m going to write literally as if this is my diary,’ and just see what happens. Who knows? Maybe you’ll hate it and decide that it was way too much and throw it away. But in my experience, I have never done that. I always end up putting it out.”
Work With People You Love
Friend and collaborator Ariana Grande gave him advice that works both on the road and off. “She said you have to actually like your band and your crew. Hire people, of course, because they’re talented, but they have to be good people. For a lot of artists, touring can be some of the darkest times in their personal life. It’s a strange lifestyle.”
“You can trust your judgment of character,” he adds. “So [find] good people that believe in you and truly have your best interest at heart. You don’t want to play the short game. You want to be in this a long time.”
"Having a song that's blowing up on TikTok or YouTube, you sort of become fresh meat," he says, directing advice to up-and-comers grinding out social content a decade after he tested his mettle on YouTube. "If that happens to you, that's awesome. But make sure that you like the people that you are meeting, because the whole world is going to open up to you. And it's either gonna open up to you for five minutes or it's gonna open up to you for a really, really long career… I think those early decisions about the people you surround yourself with [are] what's gonna make the difference."
Don’t Get a Big Head
Sivan’s mom is surely proud of all of his success, but she’d never cosign being impolite. “If she were to see me being rude to someone in… any environment, she would just be so pissed off, like her work was all for nothing. I’ve met too many people who are at the top of their game who are lovely to justify anything else,” says Sivan, who cites kindness from costars including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and the Weeknd.
“If you’re liked and respected by the people you work with, you’re going to get much more done anyway.”