Pop Music's Top 6 YouTube Success Stories

by 4:08 PM PST, December 22, 2010
Photo: Getty Images

Justin Bieber. Lady Gaga. They're just a couple of the music stars whose massive followings on YouTube helped rocket their careers to the next level.

Take Gaga, for example: This October the "Bad Romance" megastar became the first-ever artist to reach one billion views on YouTube, a popularity milestone that even she couldn't ignore: "We reached 1 Billion views on youtube little monsters! If we stick together we can do anything. I dub u kings and queens of youtube! Unite!" Gaga tweeted.

Meanwhile Chris Anokute, senior vice-prez of A&R at Universal Motown, says he thinks Justin Bieber is a prime example of an artist who "actually broke off of YouTube and became a mainstream success story." Around age 13, Bieber began posting homemade videos of himself on the website, which led to him being discovered by his manager who introduced him to Usher. The rest is history.

"To me, I think post-Justin Bieber you're gonna see a lot more stars coming to your TV screens or coming to your venue that you've first seen on YouTube," Anokute tells ET.

The Motown VP took one such YouTube prodigy under his own wing: 16-year-old Avery, who blew him away with her music video for an original song, "Love Me or Let Me Go," that she posted on the site. He says that after a bidding war with other record companies he ended up signing Avery to Universal Motown.

"I was sold just off of her YouTube channel," Anokute says. "She had an incredible voice, she's gorgeous, and she's an original -- she had an original song that I bought into that I thought was a hit song."

Here's another YouTube sensation: 18-year-old "Pyramid" singer Charice. Growing up in the Philippines, she competed in local singing competitions and on TV talent shows. Then, after fans began posting clips of her on YouTube, she eventually found herself belting out tunes for none other than Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres on their talk shows.

Esmee Denters, a 22-year-old Dutch singer-songwriter, was one of the first artists signed to Justin Timberlake's Interscope imprint Tennman Records. How? By getting discovered on YouTube, of course. Esmee sang hits by Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Natasha Bedingfield -- shooting her videos for the cover-tunes from the comfort of her own bedroom, she says!

And Esmee's not the only musician to find sweet success covering established hits. Thirteen-year-old Greyson Chance shot to cyber fame after his rendition of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" -- filmed by his dad at a choir event -- became a YouTube smash hit to the tune of over 35 million views.

Keep checking back with ETonline for the latest buzz on the pop music scene!