Tech Transformers

Pop stars the Internet made famous

Pop stars the Internet made famous

South Korean singer Psy
Getty Images

The Internet has had a massive impact on the music industry, from the way users listen to music to how much artists get paid. One of the key disrupters has been YouTube, which turns 10 years old this week.

It has not just changed the way we listen to music -- but also how artists are discovered. Gone are the days of being scouted in a karaoke joint; now, young hopefuls dreaming of sold-out arenas take to the Web to showcase their talent.

CNBC takes a look at some of the biggest pop stars made by the Internet.

Justin Bieber

Gregg DeGuire | WireImage | Getty Images

Top hits: "As Long As You Love Me," "Boyfriend," "Baby"

Twitter followers: 62.9 million

Perhaps one of the more controversial Internet pop sensations, Canada's Justin Bieber catapulted to fame after gaining popularity on YouTube.

The 21-year-old singer built his base of fans – known as "Beliebers" – after his mother started uploading videos of his singing to YouTube, starting with Bieber's rendition of an R&B song by pop singer Ne-Yo.

U.S. talent manager, Scooter Braun, stumbled across Bieber's videos, tracked the singer down and signed him to Raymond Braun Media Group, a music label owned by Braun and R&B star Usher.

In 2010, Bieber released his debut studio album "My World 2.0," which contained the hit song "Baby." The video was at the time the most-watched clip on YouTube.

Bieber has gained a reputation as a "bad boy" after several run-ins with the law and the media. In a survey by online real estate company Zillow last year, Bieber was named as the least desirable next-door-neighbor.

Carly Rae Jepson

David Becker | Getty Images

Top hits: "Call Me Maybe"

Twitter followers: 10.75 million

Another Canadian, Carly Rae Jepsen shot to fame in 2012 with her infectious single "Call Me Maybe" – one of those songs people secretly love.

Jepsen performed on talent show "Canadian Idol" in 2007, finishing third. She steadily built a fan base on social networking website MySpace and was subsequently signed to School Boy Records, another label owned by Scooter Braun – the same guy who snapped up Justin Bieber.

"Call Me Maybe" has clocked over 670 million views on YouTube since it was posted in 2012. Although Jepsen has been quiet for the last couple of years, the Canadian singer recently released a single called "I Really Like You," featuring Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks in the video.

Arctic Monkeys

Anthony Harvey | Getty Images

Top hits: "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," "Fluorescent Adolescent"

Twitter followers: 1.55 million

The Arctic Monkeys owe much of their success to the Internet, although the indie band did not consciously plan an online marketing campaign.

Instead, the band handed out discs of songs after gigs in the early 2000s in the Arctic Monkeys' hometown of Sheffield, England. Fans began sharing the songs online and eventually an Arctic Monkeys' page was born on social networking site MySpace.

However, the band professed to not even know what MySpace was in a 2005 interview with Prefix Magazine.

Rebecca Black

Mark Sullivan | WireImage | Getty Images

Top hit: "Friday"

Twitter followers: 1.49 million

"It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend,weekend."

These were the lyrics from the chorus of Rebecca Black's "Friday" a song that was slammed by critics when it was released in 2011. The Yahoo! music blog called it a "mind-meltingly horrific song."

The song went viral as a result and to date has racked up more than 78 million views on YouTube.

Since then,there hasn't been much from the U.S. teen.


South Korean singer Psy
Getty Images

Top hit: "Gangnam Style"

Twitter followers: 3.93 million

Psy had been making music for over a decade in South Korea before the highly infectious "Gangnam Style" hit the world's ears.

The song, known for its comical dance accompaniment, catapulted Psy to fame in the West after it went viral on YouTube in 2012.

To date, "Gangnam Style" has racked up over 2.3 billion views on YouTube and spawned an array of parodies.

Ariana Grande

Kevin Winter | Getty Images

Top hits: "Problem," "Break Free," "Love Me Harder"

Twitter followers: 28 million

Ariana Grande was a teenage superstar. The American landed a role in Nikelodeon TV series "Victorious" in 2009 at the age of 16 and two years later recorded songs for the show's soundtrack.

At the same time, Grande began recording covers of popular songs from stars such as Rihanna and Mariah Carey and uploading them on YouTube.

Universal Republic Records came across the covers and signed Grande to the label in 2011.

Lily Allen

Ian Gavan | Getty Images

Top hits: "The Fear," "Somewhere Only We Know," "Smile"

Twitter followers: 5.1 million

Lily Allen is another artist who has MySpace to thank for her success.

The British singer found it tough at the beginning of her career in 2005 when she was signed to Regal Recordings. The label could not support and market her as she recorded an album, so Allen decided to upload the demos to MySpace. Her following grew online and her label's ears perked up as media interest blossomed.

Allen's debut album "Alright, Still" was released in July 2006, and the artist used MySpace to preview some tracks, in order to boost the success of the release.

Soulja Boy

Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images

Top hits: "Crank That" "Kiss Me Thru the Phone"

Twitter followers: 4.75 million

U.S. hip hop artist Soulja Boy had one big hit called "Crank That" in 2007, which was accompanied by a dance that became popular.

This came about after Soulja Boy began posting his own songs to SoundClick, an MP3 downloading platform, in 2005. After gaining fans, Soulja Boy set up YouTube and MySpace pages.

In March 2007, he recorded "Crank That" and made an independent budget video showcasing the accompanying dance. It was a hit and Soulja Boy found himself signing a deal with Interscope Records.

Cody Simpson

Brad Barket | Getty Images for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment

Top hit: "iYiYi," "Pretty Brown Eyes"

Twitter followers: 7.36 million

This 18-year-old is another YouTube sensation. The Australian singer started recording covers of songs by artists like Justin Timberlake in his bedroom in 2009 and posting them on the video-sharing site.

The result was a record deal and some acting gigs too.

5 Seconds of Summer

Frazer Harrison | Getty Images

Top hit: "She Looks So Perfect"

Twitter followers: 6.52 million

Like many other Internet artists, pop-rock band "5 Seconds of Summer" came to fame by posting cover songs online and building a loyal YouTube following.

Arguably, the biggest endorsement came when the Australian band was the opening act for One Direction's 2013 Take Me Home Tour.

Later that year, 5 Seconds of Summer got a deal with Capitol Records, and in 2014, the band set up its own label called Hi Or Hey Records in partnership with Capitol.

Austin Mahone

Mark Davis | Getty Image

Top hits: "What About Love", "Say You're Just a Friend"

Twitter followers: 8.31 million

U.S. teen, Austin Mahone, began posting videos to YouTube in 2010 and in 2012, he released his first single "11:11" to iTunes.

That same year Mahone was snapped up by Cash Money Records, and in 2013, was one of the opening acts of Taylor Swift's Red Tour.