If you're one of the 544 million people who have been swooned by Justin Bieber's puberty-tickling vocals in the music video for "Baby," the all-time>"/>
If you're one of the 544 million people who have been swooned by Justin Bieber's puberty-tickling vocals in the music video for "Baby," the all-time most watched video on YouTube, then congratulations--you essentially gave a 17-year-old boy $65.5 million.
Bieber, like the following musicians, found his golden ticket to the media spotlight thanks to the mecca of video-sharing websites--YouTube.
Sometimes all it takes to skip playing bars for warm beer and pocket change is a webcam, a Lady Gaga fetish idea, and a passion for Helen Keller jokes.
With magical fingers and a booming voice, Greyson Chance (see above) had his musical breakthrough when a video of the 13-year-old performing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" at a sixth-grade music festival went viral, attracting the attention of comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres. Wooing DeGeneres was just the beginning, however. On May 26, 2010, she announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she was starting her own record label, Eleveneleven, named in part because she discovered Chance on May 11--only 13 days after he first posted the video on YouTube. The first person DeGeneres signed? Mr. Chance, of course. His first single, "Waiting Outside the Lines," was released on October 26, 2010.
Nothing says "bro" like filming memory-loss-induced fellatio. For Donald Glover, sexual mishaps and perversion led the way for the NYU student, who after filming, writing, and acting alongside his college comrades in more than 40 YouTube videos, became a full-blown Internet sensation (Derrick Comedy's top five viewed videos have more than 46 million views combined). That success has launched a full-blown career for Glover, who just finished his second season as Troy on the NBC sitcom Community, starred alongside Derrick Comedy actors Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson in the film Mystery Team, wrote for NBC's 30 Rock, performed his first Comedy Central special in 2010, and has one day left on his IAMDONALD tour--a 23-date stand-up and music tour, featuring his nerd-rap side project Childish Gambino.
It's one thing to sing covers of the Beatles and Destiny's Child in a New York bedroom--it's quite another to open for Ben Folds four times at his request. The 22-year-old ukulele diva, who often sings harmonies with herself via overdubbing, first broke onto the YouTube scene by performing fun, homemade versions of her favorite songs. Nunes now has four records--three with original songs, one with all covers--and her own record label, Rude Butler Records. The cherry on top? Former Brat Pack star Molly Ringwald said on Good Morning America that she began taking ukulele lessons because of her YouTube videos.
International Filipino recording artist Charice Pempengco was once called "the most talented girl in the world" by Oprah Winfrey. The facts don't lie--at only 19 years old, Pempengco is the only Asian singer in U.S. history to have a song land in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart, and now she's a cast member on the cult-phenom Glee. If that's not enough, she has received countless awards, such as Most Requested Foreign Act of 2007 in South Korea and the Most Memorable Moment of 2007 from The Ellen DeGeneres Show--among many, many others. And where did all the fame stem from? YouTube.
Indie multi-instrumentalist duo Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn operate under two simple guidelines: What you see is what you hear, and if you hear it, you see it at some point. Thus unveils the world of Pomplamoose, whose video-song posts on YouTube have have garnered mass praise (except with Editor Mike Seely), including a handful of 2010 Hyundai Christmas commercials and a small East Coast tour in June, where they'll open for OK Go at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
If Jay-Z likes you, the rest is a cakewalk. This was the experience for 19-year-old South Carolina singer Alexis Jordan, who after being eliminated from America's Got Talent in 2006, decided to upload videos of her performing cover songs to YouTube. The videos received so much attention that Jay-Z got involved and signed Jordan to his StarRoc/Roc nation record label. Mr. Carter must have seen something that America's Got Talent missed because her first single, "Happiness," released in Sept. 2010, reached #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play, went triple platinum in Australia, and peaked at #3 in the United Kingdom.
There aren't many artists who have made a career making fun of Helen Keller's disabilities. Then again, singer/songwriter, comedian, and actor Bo Burnham isn't exactly your run of the mill YouTuber. Tracing his humble beginnings back to raunchy, R-rated, self-described "pubescent musical comedy," Burnham uploaded songs he had written as a 17-year-old Catholic school boy to YouTube so that his older brother could watch them from college. The result? Millions of hits and a four-record deal with Comedy Central Records. Not bad for a kid who first made a living singing, "Helen Keller was my perfect woman, I was her only need/She didn't mind the zits on my ass, it gave her more to read."
Unlike the other musicians on this list, Rebecca Black's dismal-at-best YouTube effort "Friday" garnered nothing more than death threats and an onslaught of parodies. To be fair, however, musical success is determined--at least on some level--by the amount of Benjamins you can wipe your ass with. Let's just say Black won't have to worry about college debt. Celebrities such as Conan O'Brien and Stephen Colbert have taken time on their television shows to make fun of "Friday." Even Glee performed the song on its May 10 episode (and two weeks ago it devoted an entire episode to the music of Fleetwood Mac . . . that's credibility).
Finally, a remix of "Friday" that comes with guaranteed laughs.