YouTube is our generation’s TV. Its advent has impacted mainstream culture and the news channels since its inception in 2006. It was only expected that the younger stars would owe in time their success to this social media platform. And while it is now officially behind the likes of TikTok in watch time, YouTube has launched a ridiculous amount of lucrative careers for many entertainers in most countries around the world. Today’s list will introduce you to the top 10 most famous singers who got their jumpstart thanks to YouTube.
Note: the list is ordered based on the artists’ YT views on their most recent music videos as of October 20th, 2021.
10. Tori Kelly
Tori Kelly started her music career on YouTube in 2006. Her popular covers reached millions of views and attention, co-signs, praise from certified celebrities. Scooter Braun became her manager in 2013 and got Tori signed to Capitol Records.
In her pursuit to become an original songwriter, Kelly started composing and posting some of her original songs as well which to her fortune, the fans loved and supported thus helping the singer become a full-time musician. Unbreakable Smile was a high favorite of the public with over 11 million views on YouTube alone. The album with the same name included the beautiful and popular Nobody Love. Tori Kelly was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys in 2016. Her second studio album Hiding Place (2018) peaked at number 35 on the Billboard 200 chart and received two Grammy Awards, for Best Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance/Song, respectively.
9. Troye Sivan
The 26-years old singer is a former YouTuber, now actor, and singer-songwriter from Australia. Troye gained plenty of popularity in some of the talent competitions in Australia. Later on, he caught on fire on YouTube thanks to his uber relatable content like How To Make Friends and Coming Out. He developed a cult-like fanbase who have been following his artistic development since before he got signed.
Youth by Sivan became his first-ever single to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was featured in the top 40 category by reaching number 23. In 2018, his album Bloom managed to reach the 3rd position in Australia. On the Billboard 200 chart, the album reached the 4th position. His lead single My My My! became his 2nd number one single track on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
The Acappella group from Arlington, Texas, consisting of vocalists Scott Hoying (baritone), Mitch Grassi (tenor), Kirstin Maldonado (alto), Kevin Olusola (vocal percussion), and Matt Sallee (bass), are known for producing cover renditions of modern Pop hits. Their story began when they arranged and submitted a trio version of Telephone for a local show competition to meet the cast of Glee. Despite losing the competition, the reception of the cover was big and warm enough to grant Pentatonix regular gigs and local attention. Their version of Telephone gained attention on YouTube jumpstarting a national and later – a global fanbase.
Pentatonix have won three Grammy Awards: they were the first Acappella act to win Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Acappella, doing so in 2015 and 2016, and Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2017.
7. Alessia Cara
The Canadian singer-songwriter began playing guitar at the age of 10 and taught herself how to rearrange popular hit songs. And so at the age of 13, she began her own YouTube channel where she posted covers renditions mentioning later on that she saw Justin Bieber as a career model at the time. Her cover of Sweater Weather by the Neighbourhood for example garnered the singer over 8 million views. Another extremely popular cover was Love Yourself which gained almost 4 million views.
In 2017, Alessia collaborated with DJ and producer Zedd on the single Stay, which was certified seven-times platinum in Canada, and featured on rapper Logic‘s song 1-800-273-8255. Cara has received nominations for four Grammy Awards, winning the Best New Artist in 2018. Her 3rd album In The Meantime was released in 2021. The album was met with positive reviews from critics.
The 29-year old George Kusunoki Miller is famous for his former aliases: Pink Guy and Filthy Frank. Joji hails from Japan. He is a YouTuber, songwriter, singer, and comedian. Soon after his launch on the social media platform, Joji’s videos started having widespread impact thanks to his outrageousness, musical delivery, and blunt opinions. Through his series of YouTube channels, Miller started his career of serving as an entertainer. His top renowned hub was TVFilthyFrank.
In December 2017, Miller quit his YouTube channels. He started focusing on creating more serious music. It included In Tongues. The music release was capable of earning the impressive number 58 on the Billboard 200 chart.
5. Conan Gray
The 22-year-old raised in California and Georgetown, Texas, began uploading vlogs, covers, and original songs to YouTube as a teenager. His first videos included everyday-life topics such as baking and living in a small town. He is often hailed for his appreciation of Americana-related nostalgia. Gray recorded music, showed his art, and created a plethora of videos for his vlog with more than 4 million subs.
Conan Gray self-released his debut single Idle Town, in March 2017. The song gained over 14 million streams on Spotify and 12 million views on YouTube. At such numbers of course the kid was gonna get signed, which he did. In October 2018, Gray released the single Generation Why under Republic Records.
Gray released his debut full-length studio album Kid Krow on March 20, 2020, which debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200 as well as number 1 on the US Pop Albums chart and number 2 on the Top Album Sales chart with over 37 thousand pure sales.
4. Bo Burnham
The 31-year-old Robert Pickering Bo Burnham is an actor, singer, filmmaker, and musician from Massachusetts. He launched his musical career on YouTube in 2006. As of October 2021, his videos have garnered over 496 million views on the video streaming platform.
Although Bo has achieved much of his accolades outside of YouTube, it was YouTube that helped the actor and comedian be regarded as a musician as well. In 2008, Burnham went on to sign the 4-year record deal with Comedy Central Records. The same year, he released his debut single Bo fo Sho. Later on, in 2009, he released the full-fledged album Bo Burnham.
Right now Gen Z is learning of Bo Burnham’s excellence via TikTok and his phenomenon Bezos I earworm. The song earned him his first charting song on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 and Global 200 charts.
3. Charlie Puth
In 2009, Charlie started a YouTube channel where he used to post acoustic covers and comedy videos. He released his first-ever song There Are My Sexy Shades in 2010, which trust us, you should check out 😀 Luckily for him, his more serious cover renditions got him on the Ellen DeGeneres show where she decided that she is signing Charlie to her own label eleveneleven. She was inspired by his cover of Someone Like You by Adele.
Charlie Puth released his debut single Marvin Gaye featuring Meghan Trainor in 2015. His next single and first feature, See You Again, which he co-wrote, co-produced, and performed with Atlantic label-mate Wiz Khalifa for the Furious 7 soundtrack as a tribute to actor Paul Walker, peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for 12 non-consecutive weeks.
As of recently, he’s incredibly active on TikTok.
2. Justin Bieber
The 27-year-old megastar is the poster child of the YouTube-to-professional-musician career path. His mother would upload videos of her son busking the streets of Canada and upload them on YouTube. Little did she know that sharing her son’s talent with the world would get the attention of Scooter Braun who scored Justin a record deal with Def Jam via L.A. Reid. Bieber’s first single, One Time, was released to radio while Bieber was still recording his debut album. The song reached number 12 on the Canadian Hot 100 during its first week of release in July 2009 and peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Mind you, he was only 13 at the time.
Bieber is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of over 150 million records worldwide. He is credited with three Diamond certifications from the RIAA for Baby, Sorry, and Despacito. He has received numerous accolades, including two Grammy Awards, 32 Guinness World Records, a record 21 MTV Europe Music Awards, 21 Billboard Music Awards, 18 American Music Awards, two Brit Awards, six MTV Video Music Awards, and a Latin Grammy Award.
1. Shawn Mendes
The 23-year old superstar dating Camila Cabello first began as a cover artist on YouTube and if you have been around the Vine era, the odds are that you might remember some of his renditions. Between the two platforms, the young artist managed to gather ample followers especially with him mentioning in interviews how he self-taught playing guitar in only 6 months via the same platform, YouTube. His voice and his looks soon had a plethora of record labels knocking on Shawn’s door. Island Records became the first-ever record label to officially acknowledge the artist. Mendes’s self-titled debut EP was released in 2014, followed by his debut studio album Handwritten in 2015. Handwritten debuted atop the US Billboard 200, making Mendes one of five artists ever to debut at number one before the age of 18.
On September 23, 2021, Mendes shared the dates for his upcoming tour, Wonder: The World Tour, across North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. The tour consists of 64 dates and begins on March 14, 2022, at the Royal Arena Copenhagen. Supporting artists for the tour include King Princess for the European leg, Dermot Kennedy for the first leg of the North American shows, and Tate McRae for the second leg of the North American portion.
If you want to make the world a better place by helping 50 arduous indie artists working 24/7 to give you authentic music, stream the playlist below.