New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Beyond NYU: From TikTok fame to onstage game

Former student Sadie Jean spoke to WSN about her recent and sudden rise to fame after posting a song on TikTok, eventually making a name for herself and performing across the country.

When Sadie Jean, a former student at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, first released her song “WYD Now?” she never imagined that it would blow up on TikTok overnight. Now, only two years after her big break, Jean has performed across the country and seen her songs hit millions of streams, collaborating and appearing on tour with artists including Rod Wave and Johnny Orlando. 

In an interview with WSN, Jean spoke about her rise to stardom, her love for songwriting and her experience touring nationwide.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: How did you find community at NYU?

Jean: Where I grew up, and at my school, there was no one else doing music. I didn’t know anyone that wanted to have a career in anything involving the entertainment industry. So going to NYU and being surrounded by people who had big dreams was super inspiring and mind-blowing, there was a level of culture shock, almost. It was so good for me, and it was my first time co-writing with other people, like my friends who also went to NYU with me — my friends and I wrote my first song together. That changed my life so much, so I feel like I owe so much of my whole career to the people I met at NYU. 

Originally from Orange County, California, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter said she has always had a passion for writing songs. Jean said that when she found Clive Davis at the Tisch School of the Arts, she immediately knew she wanted to spend her undergraduate career there, and began her studies in 2020. Jean said her education centered around songwriting, and added that she would sometimes write up to three songs a day. 

WSN: Did you expect to rise to fame so quickly? 

Jean: I went into a state of paralysis, almost. I felt like I left my body for like 10 months because I was just under so much pressure, especially for the second song. Everyone was like, “If the second song doesn’t do really well, then you’re just kind of going to be seen as a one hit wonder.” I didn’t even know how the first one happened — how am I supposed to do that again? I then had another viral moment, and that’s when I put out my second song. I don’t regret it at all because I really liked that song. But definitely, it was so stressful. I kind of just tuned everyone out and it worked out. 

Jean dropped out of NYU in 2022 to pursue a full-time career in music after “WYD Now?” went viral on TikTok. The song has now reached more than 140 million streams on Spotify.

WSN: Why did you decide to drop out of NYU? 

Jean: My first song came out on Dec. 10, which was finals week — it was a super stressful week for me. I had one final that I pushed off because I just had so much to do for that release and winter break. I was trying to do this final and I literally couldn’t focus because Charlie Puth was tweeting about my song, as I was trying to do this final, and I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t go back. I can’t picture myself doing homework, this is so crazy.” Then for a while after that, I really regretted leaving because I was in Los Angeles and I didn’t really know anyone. But there was no way that I was going to be able to pursue a career and school at the same time.

In June, Orlando announced that Jean would be opening for his “The Ride” tour.  The tour marked Jean’s first national tour, with her performing opening songs like “16” and “Just Because” at the shows. Jean first worked with Orlando after he messaged her on Instagram in 2021 for an open verse challenge. The two later began experimenting in musical sessions together.

WSN: What was it like going on tour for the first time?

Jean: It was crazy. It was so surreal. I was just in a state of shock and I still haven’t really processed it — I still think it’s crazy. I never signed to a major big label — now the music industry is so democratic and different it really does feel like anyone can make it a little bit. Because I did, and I didn’t have to sell my soul or anything. I just feel like it’s so random that that happens, just from a silly little app. 

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Bruna Horvath
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.

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