There used to be a time when scouting for talent meant open auditions and showreels but thanks to the internet, the careers of many aspiring entertainers has been considerably furthered.
With that in mind, we’ve highlighted 10 famous faces that achieved wild success through their legendary exploits on the internet.
1. Rebecca Black
If ever there was a song to put you off people’s favourite day of the week, it was Rebecca Black’s aptly titled single ‘Friday.’ The music video, funded by her mother who paid $4,000 for Ark Music to produce the video was released on YouTube and almost immediately went viral for all the wrong reasons, with many magazines declaring it the worst song of all time.
But Black, who later admitted to receiving death threats after the video came out, would see the video rack up almost 100m YouTube hits and would go on to appear alongside Katy Perry in her music video “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).”
Years on, and Black’s career is showing no signs of being a one-off ‘hit’ following the release for her critically applauded 2016 single ‘The Great Divide.’
2. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber never won any of the local music competitions his mother put him forward for, but he continued to upload his talents on YouTube- a move that would change his life forever. Discovered by the then little-known music manager Scooter Braun who accidentally stumbled across a video of him singing Ne-Yo’s So Sick, Braun tracked down the singer and signed him to his management company.
After being introduced to Usher, Bieber would send out mixtapes and with the R&B crooners help he found a home at Island Records.
Nowadays, Bieber is arguably contemporary music’s biggest name, and at the age of 22, already has a net worth of $200m.
3. Susan Boyle
While Susan Boyle is very much a Simon Cowell product following her hair-raising performance on Britain’s Got Talent, it was the viral nature of the YouTube video that propelled Boyle’s virtuosity to a global audience.
Indeed. it wasn’t merely her outstanding voice that made her a star. It was the nature of the audition that was equally as compelling. Akin to something out of a film, the judges scoffed at the prospect of an awkward middle-aged Scotish woman believing she could sing- until she opened her mouth. Her breathtaking rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables not only racked up a 200m YouTube views, but it also gave Boyle the opportunity to release six albums and tour the world.
Swedish video game commentator ‘PewDiePie’, real name Felix Kjellberg, is the pinup boy for internet success and with a net worth of $17m, that’s hard to dispute.
His fanbase, known as ‘The Bro Army’ devote considerable amounts of their free time to watching Felix’s expletive gaming commentary. As a result, the vlogger has accumulated well over 40m YouTube subscribers since joining the site in 2010, holding the current record for the most subscribers. Not bad for someone who commentates on playing video games. Not bad at all.
Psy was already a huge celebrity in his native South Korea when Gangnam Style was released, but he wasn’t known anywhere else- until the comical Gangnam Style video went viral.
In fact, the song proved so infectious and catchy that it would go on to rack up an unprecedented 2 billion YouTube views.
To the day, Psy still holds the record for the most viewed video on YouTube and the flamboyant entertainer is now represented by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.
6. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian and her cohort of sisters are widely considered to be amongst the most powerful families in Hollywood, but quite what they do other than bemoan the plight of their decadent existence is still unknown.
Then again, Kim’s fame-grabbing exploits have been well-documented over the years, with the reality star being coming to prominence following the release of a sex tape with the rapper Ray-J. Yes, a porn video managed to propel the career of someone with few talents. Who’d have thought?
7. Soulja Boy
Remember Soulja Boy? He was the artist you probably played all the time at your sub-par high school parties when you got your first iPod. Anyway, his first hit, “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” was self-published- if you couldn’t already tell by the music video’s low-budget production.
Nonetheless, the cheaply assembled video proved a hit and soon went viral, giving Soulja Boy the dream of many artists: a record deal. And while often poked fun at for his talent, the artist has five albums and a $23m net worth to his name.
8. Jim Cantore
“You can have your $500m Jackpot in Powerball or whatever the heck it was, but I’ll take this baby.” Those were the words from Jim Cantore, a seasoned weather reporter from The Weather Channel who couldn’t contain his excitement after four episodes of thunder occurred during a snowstorm in Boston.
Since the video went viral, Jim Cantore has become a cult hero to many, and the video has been watched countless times by those wanting to share in his happiness.
9. Pietro Boselli
When a group of highly-strung girls took photos of their hot maths lecturer at Britain’s prestigious University College London, the photos soon went viral and the Italian teacher, who holds a PhD in Engineering, became an overnight sensation.
With looks like his, Boselli wasn’t an exactly an unknown in the modelling world, but his campaigns in recent months following the publicity that came with being ‘The World’s Hottest Maths Teacher’ propelled the stud into upper echelons of the modelling industry.
In the last few months, the Italian has even modeled for fashion powerhouses Abercrombie and Armani.
10. Sean ‘The Dancing Man’ O’Brien
He may not be the most famous person on the list, but Sean O’Brien’s Internet story is certainly the most beautiful. Dancing at a London nightclub, Sean’s world was turned on its head when a group of bullies decided to mock his dancing. Posting his image online with the sinister caption, ‘Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing’ the comments that followed left Sean knocked for six. But what was encouraging for Sean were the number of people sticking up for him.
Two women from Los Angeles even went as far as to raise a Kickstarter campaign so Sean could travel to Los Angeles, be put up in a hotel and most importantly; dance the night away at a special event.
The event, which was intended to raise awareness for cyber-bullying raised almost $40,000 and gave Sean a night he would never forget.
A year later, Sean has maintained contact with the two women and has helped them promote and establish the Dance Free Movement, an organisation which encourages people of all genders, disabilities and weight to dance like nobody’s watching.
Speaking to The Guardian about the whirlwind experience, O’Brien eloquently said, “I was gobsmacked. It felt crazy that something so harmful and personal could turn so quickly into something positive.