TRIBECA — Since rising to become a teen heartthrob, pop star Justin Bieber has broken a lot of hearts — and he's also shattered a lot of status quo inside the industry.
The teen phenom's use of social media — Bieber has some 41 million Facebook fans and 21 million Twitter followers — earned him and his manager an award Friday at the Third Annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, hosted by the NYU Stern School of Business.
"I wouldn't be here without the internet," Bieber said at the Q&A awards ceremony Friday, saying social media helped launch him to superstardom.
"I am able to interact with my fans. It sets me apart. My fans feel connected to me," he added, accepting the hammer-shaped award alongside his manager, Scooter Braun.
Judges decided the dynamic duo had disrupted the traditional gatekeepers of the music industry by being among the first major artists promoted broadly on YouTube, among other tactics.
The awards were created three years ago by Craig Hatkoff, also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, to honor traditional and non-traditional thinkers, entrepreneurs, educators, funders and innovation activists.
Among the other winners Friday were Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman of Twitter, who was given the lifetime achievement award, as well as filmmaker Ed Burns, Def Jam's Rick Rubin and more.
Bieber caused a stir by inadvertently wearing a ring on his left ring finger, which he quickly removed, saying "I am not married. That's not the look I was going for."
A crowd of about 125 students were allowed to stand behind ropes inside the Tisch Hall at the NYU Stern School of Business in Greenwich Village, and another 60 gathered outside hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol. The entire front of building on W. 4th Street was stantioned off with metal police gates.
Outside, fans Jordan, 19, Alana, 18, Mallory, 18, Ryan, 18, said they had caught a 4:30 a.m. train from Plainview, Long Island, to reach the ceremony.
"We're running on an hour of sleep," said Ryan.
"His music is inspirational," Alana said, with Jordan adding: "I just love him."
And waiting outside for the star, one member of his fan base, Jessica, 15, from Ozone Park, Queens, said she had turned up because she'd seen a tweet from the star.
"He posted it on Twitter. I've been a fan since 2009 and I had to jump at the chance to meet him," she said.
As Bieber took off after the awards, he stopped and gave air kisses, autographs and took pictures with about 30 girls — 15 of whom took off running down the street after his car.
"Calm down girls, calm down," Bieber said as they screamed his name.