In 2006, when the Disney Channel movie High School Musical aired on television for the first time, four-year-old Tobey Reyes watched the singers and dancers in awe. High School Musical was no longer just a movie to her, it had become her dream to fulfill a life similar to those in the movie.
During the summer of 2018, Reyes, currently a junior, was full of excitement and nerves. She boarded a plane to New Mexico to record her first single titled “BOY,” which stands for Because Of You. She had help from her brother Jamin Reyes. On August 18, 2018, the song was published to Apple Music and Spotify. As the number of listeners grew, so did Reyes’ singing career.
“It took a good amount of work to breakdown the process of tracking, mixing and mastering with Tobey since it was one of her first real tunes,” Jamin Reyes said. “Once she got scope of the project, it was very natural for her to let her creativity and artistic ability work through the music.”
The song is not focused on one specific person, but is rather about interactions with different people. Each line of the song connects to a different individual and the impact they have made on Reyes’ life.
“‘BOY’ is primarily about those moments when you can never quite understand love or what it all means, so you’re left constantly wondering what could have been or what should be,” Tobey Reyes said.
She was accustomed to uploading her own songs to Soundcloud or her Instagram for her followers to hear. Uploading the song to Apple Music and Spotify, which has a combined 133 million potential listeners according to Statista Research and Analysis, was a drastic and daunting change for her.
“I was really scared to do it,” Tobey Reyes said. “I remember the day that it came out, it was really overwhelming, but it was so cool because I would keep getting messages from people putting it on their [Instagram] stories.”
After the first week of the release of the song, Reyes’ song reached 1,000 streams on Spotify and within the next week, the number of streams grew rapidly, reaching 10,000 streams. Four months after release, the song had 80,000 streams.
“I first found out about the song through Spotify in my discover weekly playlist,” Lily Jade, a listener who attends Trinity Catholic College in Lismore, Australia, said. “The combination of the vocals and music immediately gave me chills while listening to it. I had an immediate connection to the song because of the situation I was going through.”
Reyes, having a following of 7,000 people from her Youtube channel, didn’t think that the number of listeners would surpass 10,000. She assumed most of the people listening would be her social media followers, along with friends and family.
“If it doesn’t do as well as I think, then that’s okay,” Reyes said. “But I also had really high hopes for it with a lot of self doubt because what if people are just liking this because they are my friend, instead of liking it because they like the music?”
Reyes also struggled to feel recognized for her work within the school system.
“In school, I feel discredited and wish I could channel my creative side more in my academics,” Reyes said. “It’s hard when you’re at a STEM focused school because you feel like your work doesn’t even matter. It feels like arts aren’t as important.”
Along with not feeling recognized in the school system, many adults in Reyes’ life only assumed she has only made a few dollars from her song.
However, Reyes totals a profit which according to her is much higher than five dollars. Reyes does not like to showcase the amount of money she earns, because the money to her is a bonus and not the driving factor.
A multitude of students and teachers cheer on Reyes and show their support by streaming “BOY” and giving her positive feedback.
“I feel very strongly about actively supporting student’s interests outside the classroom,” Cory Boyd said. “Often times, the conversation about the merits of traditional academics versus the arts gets boiled down to an either/or argument and I think that diminishes the importance of both.”
Motivated by her supporters, she is working to branch out and make herself more well-known. Reyes is working on an extended play (EP) in 2019 titled “Sunflower Girl”. The EP will hold four songs, one of which will be titled “2006”.