In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, which were critically acclaimed. In 2012, he released a compilation album Trilogy, thirty tracks consisting of the remastered mixtapes and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO.
In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which became his first number-one album on the US Billboard 200, included the number-three single "Earned It" and produced the number-one singles "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face". The songs have simultaneously held the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, making him the first artist in history to achieve this. For "Earned It", which was featured on the soundtrack for Fifty Shades of Grey, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Tesfaye has won three Grammy Awards and nine Juno Awards. In September 2016, the release of the third studio album Starboy was announced along with the release of the title track single "Starboy", which subsequently reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.