15 Singing Sensations That Found Fame on YouTube

Did you know that hundreds of celebrities today were once only YouTube stars? From models to actors and singers, many have attained recognition by wandering down the magical path of YouTube. While pop icons of the past endured hundreds of auditions and long waiting hours to meet a music producer, many of today’s famous singers have signed deals with renowned music records without ever visiting a studio.

Making it big in the music industry is no longer a distant dream. Thanks to popular media sites, such as YouTube, any talented musician can get a break online to attain stardom. There are hundreds of solo artists, rappers and rock bands who continue to release music on YouTube. Not only do they have millions of followers, but they also grab lucrative gigs and opportunities to perform live in front of their fans. 

It doesn't matter if you aspire to be a pop diva or a legendary rock artist, uploading your performances on YouTube might be the start you need for achieving your dreams. We have compiled a list of 15 of the most popular singers who got the attention of producers and record companies, with just a YouTube video. The sharing site is home to both professional and amateur performers. You would be surprised to find names like Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth on our list.

Esmee Denters

Esmee Denters

This pretty celebrity initially started her career by uploading amateur karaoke videos to the video-sharing platform. But her life took a dramatic turn when she caught the attention of renowned pop artist Justin Timberlake. In 2007, Timberlake signed this talented Dutch singer to a record deal. And the rest, as they say, is history. She's performed in various European countries and has gained a solid fan base through her videos on YouTube.

Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly

Kelly originally intended to seek fame on TV. But when she got rejected by the American Idol judges, she decided to invest more time on her YouTube channel to upload videos for demonstrating her enormous singing talent. Although most of her teen videos only featured herself singing in her bedroom, you can see why one of her biggest fans now is no one else but Sam Smith! She has also collaborated with renowned artists like Pharrell Williams and Ed Sheeran.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

Nobody had heard of Susan Boyle before 2009. She came out of nowhere and achieved success on Britain's Got Talent. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables impressed not only the judges and the audience but also became an instant YouTube hit. The viral video resulted in an overnight transformation for the 47-year-old from Scotland. She not only made an appearance on Good Morning America but also received calls from record studios around the globe. Thanks to YouTube, Susan Boyle became a worldwide celebrity.

Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes

Mendes started out by uploading videos of himself singing and playing his guitar at a young age. He also created a few of his videos for cover contests. If you happen to be a die-hard fan, you must've stumbled upon his cover of Ed Sheeran's timeless classic The A-Team, made for the Coca-Cola MuchMusic contest. Naturally, he went on to become the heartthrob of hundreds of teenage girls who followed his music on YouTube. He is probably one of the most successful musicians of our times who once shared his videos only through YouTube.

Karmin

Brokenhearted


Karmin made it big with their hit single ‘Brokenhearted.’ But before that, Amy Heidemann sang and rapped every line of Chris Brown's Look At Me Now, and the video soon became a viral hit on YouTube The best part is this musical duo is a couple who tied the knot in 2016. From YouTube to Saturday Night Live, the duo has come a long way. 

Cody Simpson

Cody Simpson

In 2010, this Australian-born teen celebrity uploaded videos of cover songs originally sung by Justin Timberlake and the Jackson 5. He was later discovered by Shawn Campbell, a talented songwriter, and producer. Over the years, Simpson has made notable appearances on several TV shows. He has released two studio albums and also happens to be an accomplished swimmer.

James Bay

James Bay

James Bay did what any talented musician with a guitar and a great voice would do. He started his career by booking small gigs at local bars and participating in open mics. His passion and his soulful voice certainly did not go unnoticed as he continued to upload his music online. It was through his large YouTube and Twitter following that the long-haired musician managed to score a record deal. With hit after hit, James Bay is currently one of the most successful stars who are making it big in the industry.

Avery Molek

Avery Molek

The youngest star on our list, Molek rose to prominence when his parents uploaded his videos on YouTube. Avery who has been playing since the age of 3 has appeared on Good Morning America. The funny thing about his initial videos is his parents started videoing him because they thought he would become more focused on his playing. The soon started sharing the videos with friends and family on YouTube.

But the six-year-old has taken the internet by storm, thanks to his gifted drumming talents. His prodigy-like skills caught the attention of local artists, but the kid's life changed when the KISS drummer Eric Singer saw him playing. He got another exciting opportunity when Karl Golden, an incredibly talented guitarist from the UK invited him to play on a series of videos.

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer

This band from Australia is yet another YouTube success story. These gifted artists captured the hearts of thousands of girls with their accent and eccentric hair. The band’s YouTube following played a significant role in pushing the band to fame. Thanks to a tweet from One Direction member, Louis Tomlinson, the band instantly got exposure.

Also known as 5SOS, the band has also toured with One Direction and also boasts a no. 1 hit on the American charts with their sophomore album, Sounds Good Feels Good. Although some fans wonder why these four guys have an unusual band name, 5 Seconds of Summer was a random name suggested by the band’s guitarist Michael Clifford.

Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth had all it takes to become a world-famous musician. Being a student at the Berklee College of Music, he had high ambitions of scoring million-dollar deals and performing live in front of thousands of fans. But it was his YouTube videos that caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres who called him on her show for a performance. Next thing we knew Puth was signed to DeGeneres' record label. He landed his first big hit at 23. His chart-topping collaboration with Wiz Khalifa, See You Again (which also appeared on the “Furious 7" soundtrack) is a song you’re not going to forget anytime soon.

Dondria

Dondria

Dondria was merely 20 when Jermaine Dupri noticed her YouTube cover songs. She, later on, made it to Atlanta for signing a contract with Dupri’s record label. In 2010, the artist launched her studio album and also collaborated with various notable musicians.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Who hasn’t heard of Ed Sheeran? This incredibly talented ginger haired music sensation seemingly appeared out of nowhere. However, he was once just a YouTuber. He has come a long way from singing in his bedroom to scoring a lucrative record deal with just a guitar in hands and an undying love for music. His soulful lyrics and soft melodic voice melts your heart and makes you believe in all the good things in life. His primary intention in writing and uploading his music was to reach as many people as he could. Luckily, he is one of today's most commercially successful musicians of our times.

Soulja Boy

Soulja Boy

Soulja Boy is a hip hop artist from Chicago whose huge fan following on YouTube, and MySpace fueled his popularity. Mr. Collipark discovered the talented star. Soulja Boy emerged into the mainstream music industry after he signed a deal with Interscope Records.

Alessia Cara

Alessia Cara

Cara was once a shy girl who had a guitar and a subpar computer video camera. But her shyness and dislike for social events could not stop her from becoming a music sensation in the mainstream industry. Her amazing voice immediately got her noticed when the daughter of EP Entertainment stumbled upon her videos on YouTube. She began recording her first few demos while still in high school. She is one of the youngest singers who made it big through YouTube.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

How can we ever compile this list without mentioning the heartthrob of millions, Justin Bieber? Almost everyone knows how this celebrity was found. But did you know that he was an instant hit from the day that he was discovered? Since the time when he started out at a young age, his musical journey has seen a few ups and downs. But looking at his success, it's hard to believe that Bieber was once your boy next door who loved to cover recording artists like Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo. The R&B superstar and hip-hop artist Usher discovered Bieber, and the rest is history.

Usher taught him everything that he knew. From dancing to singing and performing live in concerts, Usher had ultimate faith in Bieber’s musical talents. We can’t thank Usher enough for giving us one of the best pop icons of today’s times. Justin Bieber is undoubtedly among the most famous faces in the music industry today and has a global fan base encompassing millions of people. Though controversies have shrouded the latter part of his career, there is no doubt that he remains the most popular singer who initially found success on YouTube.

Usher taught him everything that he knew. From dancing to singing and performing live in concerts, Usher had ultimate faith in Bieber’s musical talents. We can’t thank Usher enough for giving us one of the best pop icons of today’s times. Justin Bieber is undoubtedly among the most famous faces in the music industry today and has a global fan base encompassing millions of people. Though controversies have shrouded the latter part of his career, there is no doubt that he remains the most popular singer who initially found success on YouTube.

Notable Mentions

Here are a few honorable mentions that narrowly missed our list:

The Weeknd

When The Weeknd initially began to upload music on YouTube, viewers couldn’t help notice the strange uploading style. Now globally known as the Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye, got his start in a somewhat unconventional way in 2011. The YouTube videos of his music did not feature his face but only a few interesting images. We assume he wanted to hide his insane hair-do. Nonetheless, the artist who once uploaded under the username xoxxxoooxo is now on top of his career, thanks to YouTube.

Savannah Outen

Another great star whose YouTube videos have become relatively popular since the late 2000's, Outen currently has more than 450,000 YouTube subscribers. What’s more she has also performed the National Anthem for various sports teams, and her songs have also been featured on Radio Disney.

What’s Great about YouTube?

Just a decade ago, YouTube was a fun place to find cat videos. The network has also come a long way to become a globally and commercially successful video sharing site. It's just not a platform for amateur and budding artists to share their music, but a large number of recording artists also run their channels to stay in touch with the fan following. Now that it's 2018, YouTube has become more than a video sharing network.

Not just singers but also comedians and actors have found success, thanks to their YouTube channel. So, the next time you don’t know what to do with your guitar or piano, why not record a cover or shoot your original song and upload it to YouTube?

Thanks to the wonderful world of social media, you only need talent, a strong will and the desire to become successful in making it big in the industry. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other networks also let you share your videos to cover your fan-following on every platform. Although nobody can predict the kind of stardom you can achieve through YouTube; if you continue uploading good content and keep sharing it on your other accounts, you might get lucky.

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