When Will Paquin uploaded a 12-second video to TikTok in August 2020, he never imagined it would go viral. Now his single, “Chandelier,” is one of the most popular tracks of all time on TikTok, with 89 million streams across Spotify and YouTube to date.
Will Paquin grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and he went to Boston University for music degrees. He had plans to finish his degree and work a normal job until the pandemic hit in March 2020. He’d been a casual user on TikTok for two years, uploading snippets of funky original music and covers of popular songs.
The app’s algorithm helped him build a following, and that gave him an edge over other musicians, especially when he stumbled onto a guitar riff that went viral in 2021. The riff led to his first song, “Chandelier,” which has been streamed a billion times and earned Paquin millions of dollars on Spotify.
Chandelier is a self-destructive love song full of gnashing, keening playing and lyrics like “Nothing quite hits like you.” But Paquin says it’s more about the underlying theme of hedonistic excess, which he thinks a lot about as a musician.
McEvoy, who started Sonder House with the intention of helping artists like Paquin control their own careers, was impressed by the guitarist’s ambition and creative drive. But he also had reservations about Paquin’s 1% deal, which doesn’t provide him with an advance or any other perks that might make majors more likely to sign him.
In a way, it’s the perfect situation for Paquin, who says he was never really interested in being signed by a label. He wants to be in complete control of his career and his future, and he doesn’t want the big companies to decide whether or not he can accomplish that goal.
He also says that signing with a record label might be a lot harder for him than it is for other people, since most of the releases he puts out aren’t aimed at the mainstream. The resulting income might be smaller than a traditional contract, but it’s still a substantial percentage of his overall earnings.