YouTube: Training Ground for Budding Pop Phenoms

Like Justin Bieber, Greyson Chance was discovered on YouTube.

May 18, 2010 — -- "Star Search?" So yesterday. "The Mickey Mouse Club?" Maybe not. Backstreet Boys-style boot camp? Broke.

In case its dominance of all things pop culture wasn't already clear, if you're a young singer hoping to get discovered, the place to be isn't a mall casting call or teen idol factory -- it's YouTube.

While producer-manufactured bands -- The Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, The Spice Girls -- and meticulously-groomed singers -- Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus -- ruled the pop landscape of years past, it's increasingly looking like all a kid needs to succeed in the music world is a cell-phone quality video clip (beyond, of course, a killer voice/schtick to showcase.)

YouTube's latest singing success story is that of Greyson Chance, who, in just a couple of weeks, went from an average 6th grader with an uncanny ability to play and sing "Paparazzi" on the piano to a Lady Gaga-endorsed tween with a reported record deal and, if he goes the route of Justin Beiber, his own swarms of paparazzi on the horizon.

Chance joins Beiber and Taiwanese talent Lin Yu Chun on the YouTube train to household name status. Below, facts and videos of the three recent Internet singing sensations that scored international fame the new-fashioned way.

Greyson Chance

Age: 12.

YouTube claim to fame: Pulling off a powerful rendition of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" at his Edmond, Oklahoma school's sixth grade festival. Video of his performance has scored more than 13 million views on YouTube.

Traditional media claim to fame: Charming audiences on Ellen DeGeneres' show May 13. Lady Gaga phoned in to congratulate and offer advice ("stay away from girls") to her pint-sized protege -- he was so star struck, he called the pop icon "Miss Gaga."

What's next?: According to the blog Crazed Hits, Chance has inked a deal with Interscope Records. Reps from the label did not immediately respond to's requests for comment.

Lin Yu Chun

Age: 24.

YouTube claim to fame: Chun's success isn't a new media feat alone -- he appeared as a contestant on Taiwan's "Avenue to Stardom" in April. But when he belted out Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" far better than the diva herself has in decades, he cemented his Internet legacy. Dubbed the next Susan Boyle, video of Chun's performance has garnered more than 10 million hits on YouTube.

Traditional media claim to fame: See above.

What's next?: A full length album. Last week, Sony Music Entertainment announced they signed a deal with Chun, and his debut record (sung in both English and Chinese) will go on sale this July.

Justin Bieber

Age: 16.

YouTube claim to fame: Starting with his 2007 cover of Ne-Yo's "So Sick," Bieber's mom, Pattie Mallette, built up a bevy of her son's performances on YouTube. A former marketing executive of So So Def productions happened to click on one and fast-tracked the kid's career -- first a demo tape, then a show for Usher, then an audition for Island Records honcho L.A. Reid, then a record deal.

Traditional media claim to fame: Bieber's first album, "My World," debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. His aptly titled follow up, "My World 2.0," debuted at number one on the charts of four other countries. Also, he's pretty popular on Twitter. A day without some form of "Bieber" as a trending topic is like a day without the sun.

What's next?: World domination wouldn't be out of the question.