YouTube can make you a star.
Just ask Justin Bieber. Everyone knows he got his start on the web’s largest video sharing site, but he is far from the only one. The gigantic platform has created countless other superstars who are raking in millions of dollars.
Not only does YouTube itself provide an actual income based on the number of views you get, but more importantly, it opens up the doors to a bunch of other platforms like Patreon, Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, as well as live concerts and even deals with big record labels.
YouTube stars generally start by posting simple cover videos. If you go back to the early videos of any of the stars listed here, you can still see the “don’t know exactly what I’m doing” production value of their first covers. Letting their singing talent speak for itself, they created, little by little, a huge loyal fan base and became “internet stars.”
Here is a list, in no specific order, of singers who made it big on YouTube.
Hannah is a British singer who started by playing her own music in the streets of her hometown, until she decided to post videos on YouTube. She now has almost half a million subscribers and her most popular video hit 16 million views.
In 2016 she toured the UK and Europe and even had a performance in Qatar.
Kina has more than 1 million subscribers to her channel and her most popular video hit 20 million views. She comes from California and her first big break came from sending one of her videos to a Super Bowl contest, which resulted in her music being used in a Super Bowl commercial.
Megan is from Texas and has been posting videos since 2009. Her subscriber base is almost 4 million people and her most popular video got more than 67 million views.
Her covers are always accompanied by a well-produced video where she shows her small-town girl personality (even though she has been living in California for a few years now).
Alex is from New York City and has been posting videos on YouTube since 2010. His most watched video reached 73 million views.
Besides being a talented singer he is also an amazing musician. What sets him apart from others on this list is that he plays all the instruments in his videos and he plays them well. He plays piano, guitar, the drums, the bass and quite a few more, so you can always expect high quality music from him. He has also toured the U.S with the next YouTube star on this list: Tiffany Alvord.
Tiffany Lynn Alvord
Tiffany is one of YouTube’s “home-grown” stars. Her channel is among the 50 most popular channels and she is about to hit 3 million subscribers. Her most watched video is a Katy Perry cover that has about 38 million views.
With her angelic “girl next door” face she has already toured all of the US since 2013, as well as some locations in Canada, Asia and Oceania.
Tyler started posting videos from his parent’s basement 9 years ago and despite the low-budget quality, they took him far. Today at 29 years old, Ward has successfully completed five worldwide headlining tours.
With 2 million subscribers, 8 original singles,1 original album,1 EP and 23 million views on his most popular video, Tyler has made a splash in the music industry and is one of the pioneers of the social media music business.
Kurt Hugo Schneider
Schneider differs from the rest of this list. While he is a popular singer and songwriter on YouTube, his main job is producing music and videos for other YouTubers, including ones in this list. And he is amazing at it too! So much so that Coca-Cola hired him to produce one of their Super Bowl commercials.
Besides being responsible for the quality and success of others artists, Kurt has accumulated more than 8 million followers on his own channel since his first video (which he made with Sam Tsui, his friend from high school) 8 years ago and 137 million views on his most popular video (sung by the great Christina Grimmie). All of his videos combined have racked up an impressive 2.1 billion views.
Sam is Kurt Schneider’s biggest collaborator. They went to high school and Yale University together and Tsui benefited from his friend’s success and abilities. Being friends with Kurt helped him out, but his extreme talent is what made him a big name.
On the heels of a US tour and a 7-country Asian tour, the Coca-Cola Superbowl commercial he did with Kurt and being a guest on shows like Ellen and Oprah, he has accumulated 2 million channel subscribers and 35 million views on his most famous video.
Bailey is from Wisconsin and is only 24 years old. She started on YouTube 7 years ago and has already amassed 3 million subscribers and 87 million views on her most popular video.
She has a soft but powerful voice and toured the US and Canada with Boyce Avenue (next on this list) in 2013. Her first EP came out in 2016.
It is impossible to talk about YouTube fame without talking about Boyce Avenue. The band, formed by brothers Alejandro Luis Manzano, Daniel Enrique Manzano and Fabian Rafael Manzano, started posting covers, as well as their own songs, 9 years ago. They have skyrocketed to stardom since.
The boys have 9 million followers and 2.1 billion views on YouTube. They have collaborated with every single other big YouTube name and with other celebrities. They also dropped their contract with Universal Republic to start their own record label called 3 Peace Records.
The band has toured in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and they are currently getting ready for a South American tour. They are definitely a name to watch.
And as a plus, they sometimes make music in Spanish like ¡Corre! and Despacito.
Bonus: Christina Grimmie
I put Christina Grimmie as a bonus because, unfortunately, since June 2016, she’s no longer with us.
Christina started posting videos on YouTube from her bedroom 7 years ago. Just listening to her piano and her voice, anyone could tell that she had real talent and would go far. For many people (myself included) she was the artist who opened our eyes to singers on YouTube.
In 2016, Christina was a contestant on The Voice (NBC), where she got third place as a member of Team Adam. This success led to many offers from record labels, including from Adam Levine and Lil Wayne.
On June 10, 2016, Grimmie died of gunshot wounds inflicted during a targeted attack following a concert performance in Orlando, Florida. Her friends in the YouTube community (including many on this list) made tributes to her and several notable celebrities, like Adam Levine, Justin Bieber, Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Selena Gomez, did the same.
Think these stars just got lucky? Think again. They put a lot of hard work into their YouTube channels. First they had to work on their vocal ability, often with a singing coach and then they had to practice and practice and practice some more. Singing a couple of songs at karaoke once or twice a week is not going to cut it.
And on top of all the singing practice, they had to put a lot of effort into marketing themselves and building and maintaining their fan base. This takes more time than the actual singing and usually also involves setting up and managing a personal website.
It’s a ton of work to become a YouTube star, but if you’re willing to do that work and never give up, this is one of the best ways to make it as a professional singer in today’s world.