Marshmello dons the cover of Forbes ’30 Under 30′ issue

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Marshmello dons the cover of Forbes ’30 Under 30′ issueMarshmello Cred CINDY ORDGETTY IMAGES

Just three years ago, Marshmello was dropping his first original tracks on SoundCloud. Today, he adorns the cover of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 issue. Ornamented and clad in a white suit, his $55,000 helmet smilies with ambiguous benevolence.

The smile is well-earned. Over the past two years, that head raked in $44 million. Marshmello now has a six-figure performance fee, a lucrative top YouTube channel, several top-chart singles with some of the biggest labels biggest stars – though, he is yet to sign with any of the industry goliaths. According to Forbes, his manager Moe Shalizi says the 26-year-old is due to make $50 million in the upcoming year.

Marshmello’s success is a candid indication of the power of branding. The mystic of the anonymity his helmet has generated paired with his natural gift of creating songs that surpass genre allow Marshmello to appeal to a pop audience on a global scale. His momentum is unprecedented, and still, the public doesn’t know the man’s face. What they see in his air-conditioned helmet is altruism; permission to have fun, the opportunity to listen, and to dance.

Photo credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images