Lists — February 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm

The top 11 YouTubers that became bona fide musical sensations


Thanks to the power of the internet, the newest generation of music stars are just as likely to be found online than in the mall.

Through a combination of talent, perseverance and often a lucky break or two these YouTubers have been able to craft legitimate careers, securing record contracts and lucrative endorsement deals and are now laughing all the way to the bank.

They may have started their careers in bedrooms or with hand-held recordings of high school performances but these stars have made the big time and showing that there’s more than one path to success in the music industry. We take a look at 11 of the biggest crossover stars that have cracked the big time.



Troye Sivan

Openly gay Australian artist Troye Sivan found himself frustrated by the lack of gay role models within the music industry so took it on himself to do something about it. Since he started his Youtube channel in 2012, he has garnered over 3.7 million subscribers and just released his debut album, Blue Neighbourhood.


The Weeknd

The Canadian act is flying high on the back of 2015’s smash hit “I can’t feel my face” that has gathered almost half a BILLION views but his start was far more modest. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube and the rest is history.


Tori Kelly 

Tori Kelly amazed the world with her beautiful vocals in 2007, posting regular covers on YouTube at the tender age of 11. “YouTube was a huge launching pad. It put me so close together with my fans. There wasn’t any middle man. I’d get instant feedback and they’d get content right away,” she tells BBC. She now tours to sold-out arena tours around the world.


Shawn Mendez

It must be something in the water in Canada because Shawn Mendes is yet another sensation that found his fame through uploading videos across social sites. As opposed to the majority of peopl on this list, Mendes found social video app Vine to be his choice, uploading clips in 2013, and by 2014 was the third most followed musician on the platform. He was soon signed to Island records and became the youngest artist to debut in the Top 25 of the Billboard charts.


5 Seconds Of Summer

The fun-loving Australian boy band started out on YouTube playing acousic covers, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they posted Chris Brown and Justin Bieber’s “Next To You” that things really took off. They were soon ‘discovered’ by One Direction and joined them as openers on a world tour and are now one of the biggest pop exports out of the sunburnt country.


Justin Bieber

Easily the most successful performer in this list, it’s easy to forget that Bieber first found fame through YouTube. This baby-faced Canadian was just 13 when he came to the attention of super manager Scooter Braun, who made it his priority to turn the youngster into the biggest pop star of a generation.


Kina Grannis

California girl Grannis learnt her craft in Mission Viejo, starting with piano, violin and then shifting to her tradmark instrument, the humble guitar.
It was winning a Doritos ‘Crash the Superbowl’ competition to have her song appear in the 2008 Superbowl that skyrocketed her fame and gave her exposure to a national audience. Fiercely independent, Grannis has opted not to take on a contract with major labels, attributing her incredible success to her close relationship she has with her fans.

– Catch our exclusive interview with Kina Grannis – 


Cody Simpson

An all-rounder of multiple talents Simpson was a competitive swimmer before finding that music was his true calling. The Gold Coast resident began recording songs in his bedroom , covering tracks like Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Justin Timberlake’s “Cry me a river.”
He was soon discovered on YouTube by Shawn Campbell and released his very first single, “iYiYi” at the age of just 13. He’s since switched his sound from bubblegum pop to a head blend of acoustic folk.



The popular acapella group, consisting of five vocalists originated in Arlington, Texas and their tight, vocal harmonies quickly gathered them legions of fans through YouTube. With more than 10 million subscribers and 1 billion cumulative views of their videos, they’re one of the most subscribed music channels across the platform.


Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Proving the power of self-belief, and a whole lot of self-promotion, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis rose to prominence on the back of the infectious track “Thrift Shop” via Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube in 2012. They have not been able to emulate the success of their first viral hit but what a rie it’s been so far anyway.


Lindsey Sterling

With a staggering 7.4 million subscribers on YouTube, Lindsey Stirling has been one of the most successful crossover acts from YouTube, with chart-topping Billboard hits and international tours. And this is all after she was rejected from 2010’s America’s Got Talent competition because “the world had no place for a dancing dubstep violinist”.  Her perseverance paid off though and she’s not just succeeded as a violinist, dancer and now author, she’s also introduced classical music to a new generation of fans.