11 celebrities who used social media to launch their careers

A video Justin Bieber uploaded on his YouTube channel in 2007.

caption
A video Justin Bieber uploaded on his YouTube channel in 2007.
source
YouTube/ Justin Bieber

  • Before there was social media, lots of actors and artists moved to Hollywood to get their big break.
  • Today, social media has completely changed the game and has allowed “regular” people to gain fame essentially from the comfort of their bedroom.
  • From Halsey to Justin Bieber to Kate Upton, each has used social media in their favor to get to where they are today.

Social media has the ability to change our lives. It allows us to easily connect with friends and family as well as share our lives on a global scale. And for some, it has opened the door for fame.

With YouTube stars like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes getting their big breaks online, more and more celebrities are using social media as a platform to share their talent and get discovered. Here’s a list of 10 stars who got their start on social media.


Halsey’s life changed dramatically in just one night after she posted her song “Ghost” to SoundCloud.

caption
Halsey released “Ghost” on Soundcloud in 2014.
source
Christopher Polk/Getty

After making a music industry connection at a Holiday Inn party, Halsey was able to get access to a studio to record her first song – “Ghost.” She posted it to her SoundCloud account once it was finished. Within an hour, she said she logged onto her Twitter account only to discover her account was blowing up. The next morning she had multiple record labels begging to sign her, according to Rolling Stone.

Since then, Halsey’s music career has also blown up. She has earned her way onto the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Billboard 200 multiple times. In 2018, she reached the number-one spot with her single “Without Me.”


Shawn Mendes made six-second cover videos that earned him a huge following on Vine.

caption
Mendes had 300,000 followers on Vine.
source
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Shawn Mendes started making six-second videos on Vine of cover songs. Although six seconds is not a long time to show off your chops, Mendes figured out how to make it work for him, and his number of followers soon skyrocketed.

By the time he had 300,000 followers, multiple record labels were reaching out to the then 15-year-old including Island Records, Atlantic Records, Sony Records, and Warner Bros, according to Billboard. Mendes has gone on to release three studio albums and is set to perform at the Grammy Awards this year.


Justin Bieber is possibly YouTube’s greatest success story.

caption
Bieber famously got his start on YouTube.
source
Jason Merrit/ Getty Images

Perhaps one of YouTube’s most well-known success stories is that of Justin Bieber. Since 2007, he began uploading videos of himself covering artists such as Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown. Thanks to a celebrity-boost from Usher, thanks to manager Scooter Braun, he was signed to Island Def Jam Music Group.

Bieber currently holds the top spot for most subscribers for musicians on YouTube. Beyond his YouTube success, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums worldwide.


Comedian Bo Burnham’s video went viral when he was only 16, which quickly drew Hollywood attention.

caption
Burnham uploaded his first video at 16.
source
Lauren Chelsea/Getty Images

Bo Burnham was 16-years-old when he first uploaded a video of himself on YouTube, singing a song. It went viral and the rest you could say is history. What usually takes years and years, Burnham started receiving attention and offers from Hollywood, streamlining the traditional comedy grind.

Beyond comedy, he has also begun dabbling in directing. He recently won the Directors’ Guild of America award for his coming-of-age comedy, “Eighth Grade.”


Kate Upton’s YouTube video of her doing the Dougie launched her supermodeling career.

caption
Upton was signed to a modeling deal when she was 16.
source
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Similar to Bo Burnham’s success story, supermodel Kate Upton garnered attention thanks to a viral YouTube video of her dancing at a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game. She received over 3 million views on YouTube and over 150,000 new Twitter followers.

After posting another dance video to YouTube, she again racked up the views and started to create a buzz for herself. She soon was signed to Elite agency, according to Mirror UK.


Alessia Cara started her singing career on YouTube eventually leading to her Grammy win.

caption
Cara first posted on YouTube.
source
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Grammy-winning artist Alessia Cara first started covering songs by vocalists such as Amy Winehouse and Jessie J on Facebook, but soon transitioned to making YouTube videos. Cara was discovered at age 16 through her YouTube channel and was eventually signed by Def Jam.

Her hit and debut single “Here” has sold over 3 million copies, and made it into the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Charlie Puth’s version of “Someone Like You” helped him land his first record deal with Ellen Degeneres’ record label.

caption
Puth was signed in 2011.
source
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for 103.5 KTU

After earning some well-deserved attention for his YouTube cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Charlie Puth was signed to Ellen DeGeneres’ record label in 2011. But his even bigger break came when his publisher connected him with DJ Frank E, producer of artists like Flo Rida and Madonna. The two quickly worked together to write a tribute song for “Furious 7” and late star Paul Walker, which became the huge hit single “See You Again.”

Puth is now signed with Atlantic Records.


The Weeknd gained attention for his mysterious YouTube video releases and unique sound.

caption
The Weeknd had a YouTube channel under the name “xoxxxoooxo.”
source
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

After mysteriously releasing three songs to YouTube under the username “xoxxxoooxo,” Abel Tesfaye, known as the Weeknd, quickly drew interest. His smooth voice along with the mystery surrounding his YouTube channel caught the attention of Drake and many others, and the rest is history.


Tori Kelly was discovered on YouTube by Justin Bieber’s producer.

caption
Kelly released music on MySpace and YouTube.
source
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Struggling to launch her music career for more than 10 years, she took to social media doing covers and originals on MySpace and YouTube. Tori Kelly finally got her break in 2013 after Scooter Braun discovered this singing talent on YouTube and attended one of her shows.

The Grammy-nominated artist has gone on to release two studio albums and will soon be touring in support of her newest album “Hiding Place.”


Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney owe much of their SNL careers to their YouTube channel “Good Neighbor.”

caption
Bennett and Mooney started on YouTube.
source
Barry King/WireImage

Now a part of the current Saturday Night Live cast, Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney used their channel, “Good Neighbor” as a platform to share their comedy sketches with the world. Amassing millions of YouTube views, the members were signed to a contract with Maker Studios in 2011.

They received the green light for a pilot on Comedy Central in 2013 called, “The Good Neighbor Show,” but the series was not picked up. Beck and Mooney along with “Good Neighbor” director Dave McCary went onto to join “Saturday Night Live” the same year.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.