FARMINGTON — When Farmington resident Ryan Hubbell learned about Vine less than a year ago, he had no idea the mobile video application would change his life.
Through Vine, Hubbell has promoted his music and gained fans all over the world.
Hubbell wasn't new to the world of music. He and his best friend, Julian Hunsaker, formed a band in 2006 in Phoenix, Ariz., while Hunsaker was attending college. The band, Acoustic Roots, attracted a following and eventually opened for Dashboard Confessional. Last year, on Easter morning, Hunsaker died, and Acoustic Roots dissolved.
A week later, Hubbell learned about Vine, checked it out and his music career began to take off.
"I feel like he's kind of pulling strings for me up in heaven," Hubbell said of his late friend.
When he first started posting videos of himself playing original songs, he said Vine was mainly comedy and art with few musicians using it.
Posting music videos can be a challenge on Vine. The video app has a six second limit.
"The trick is making it loop, so it sounds like one continuous song," Hubbell said.
People began to listen to Hubbell's music, and he found his songs consistently making the popular page. Then, one day, he posted a video of himself playing the guitar in the sunlight. Within hours, it had more than 20,000 likes and revines, or shares.
Later that day, Hubbell got an email from the Vine creators congratulating him on his success and informing him that his post had been selected for the Editor's Pick. Only the best Vine videos are selected for that section, which is what appears when new users log on or go to Vine.
At that point, Hubbell had 20,000 followers. He said his followers jumped to 100,000 almost immediately. He now has more than 170,000 followers.
"Every time I post a video, it's putting on a concert for almost 200,000 people," Hubbell said.
A couple months ago, Hubbell received an invitation from Ellen DeGeneres to be on her show during a feature on social media stars in February. Hubbell said he isn't sure if he will accept the invitation because he is worried about putting his daughter, Ryla, 3, in a bigger spotlight.
About 20 of his Vine videos feature him and his daughter in clips he calls Single Father Life. The videos feature the two of them doing things together, like watching "Tangled" and eating spaghetti.
Vine can be a hateful place, Hubbell said. He said he has received various negative comments about his videos.
But still, Hubbell said he tries to promote positive messages in his videos.
"I also took Vine as an opportunity for me to spread the word of God," Hubbell said.
After moving back to Farmington from Phoenix, Hubbell started playing in the church band at the First United Methodist Church in Farmington.
"To me, there was no better feeling than being up on stage and playing music for God," he said.
The church is also where he met his current manager and producer, Stephen Mirabal, the church's worship leader. With Mirabal's help, Hubbell was able to produce his first-ever single, which he released on iTunes. The single, which is all instrumental, is called "Late November" and was inspired by Ryla.
Hubbell then made a Vine video encouraging people to check out the song.
The morning of the release, Hubbell went onto iTunes and discovered his song was No. 25 on the iTunes singer/songwriter list, above some of his heroes, such as Tracy Chapman and Ben Harper. Later that day, it made it into the top 10. The song stopped climbing at No. 2 on the list.
The popularity wasn't even contained to the United States. In Australia, the song was ranked No. 1 on the iTunes list, and in the United Kingdom, it was No. 4.
Hubbell said he is not interested in the fame many other social media stars search for. What he likes is the messages he gets from people around the world telling him how his music has helped them. He said one girl wrote to him from Norway and said she had been going through a hard time and was considering committing suicide. When she heard his music, she decided not to end her life, Hubbell said.
"If you can help one person with your music, I think you've done your job," he said.