Top Grads of YouTube U.
How video broke these five new pop acts.
Justin Bieber, 18
Manager Scooter Braun stumbled onto a video of a 14-year-old Bieber singing Aretha Franklin's "Respect," saw the other covers of Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo and knew he'd found a star. Braun scored the singer a deal with Island Records in October 2008 via his imprint with Usher, RBMG. Bieber has since sold more than 15 million copies of three albums, earning $55 million, and Forbes recently named him the third-most-powerful celebrity in the world.
- Subscribers: 1.5 million | Views: 419 million
Esmee Denters, 23
The Dutch singer started posting videos in mid-2006, covering songs by Justin Timberlake and Beyonce, and attracting notice from Timberlake himself. She was the first artist signed to his Interscope Records-distributed label, Tenman Records. Timberlake executive produced Denters' 2009 debut album, which charted in several countries and had two top 10 dance singles in the U.S. including the Timberlake duet "Love Dealer."
- Subscribers: 236,000 | Views: 168 million
Greyson Chance, 14
Within a couple weeks of the pianist-singer posting video performing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" for a rapt 6th grade audience, Ryan Seacrest and Ashton Kutcher had tweeted a link to the clip, and Chance was invited to play on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show. He signed to DeGeneres' new label, eleveneleven, via Geffen Records. His debut, Hold on 'Til the Night, was released in 2011, but its three singles failed to chart and overall sales were weak.
- Subscribers: 330,000 | Views: 78 million
Kina Grannis, 26
Her first YouTube video in late 2007 for her song "Message From Your Heart" (she had two albums' worth of original material by then) was entered in a Doritos contest. She won, and her video played as a Super Bowl commercial in 2008, earning her a record deal with Interscope Records. She has performed on Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and her songs have continued to be used in ads and TV shows including Gossip Girl and General Hospital.
- Subscribers: 513,000 | Views: 98 million
Keyboardist Nick Noonan and vocalist-guitarist Amy Heidemann, both 26 and a married couple, became viral sensations last spring with acoustic-driven covers of songs by Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown. By summer, they were signed to Epic Records, where their debut album, Happy, has already generated a top 40 hit in "Brokenhearted." Earlier this year, they were musical guests on Saturday Night Live.
- Subscribers: 864,000 | Views: 211 million