From Indie to Trending: YouTubers-turned-KPOP Stars

Ever wonder how long some of your favourite KPOP stars have been performing for? Some have devoted their whole life to performing in some manner, and some have even gained fan bases prior to their major debut. In the case of a certain few, some jump started their careers through the popular video-sharing site YouTube, gained a fan base in the process, and attracted the attention of major labels and audition programs in Korea. Today, I want to focus on three particular artists who are well known for their talents during their YouTube period and post-YouTube – Ailee, Megan Lee and Shayne Orok.


ailee1) Ailee

Probably the most well known on the list, Ailee started posting videos on YouTube nearly eight years ago, through two separate accounts prior to making her way to Korea. Over the course of her career as a budding YouTube singer, she posted covers to many hit songs from over the decades. Some of her most popular covers include “I Have Nothing,” “No One,” “Saving All My Love,” and “The Climb”. Her voice has attracted the attention of fellow artists like Decipher, Johnnyphlo, J.Reyez, and even got her a performance on The Maury Show. A few years ago, the folks at YMC Entertainment in Korea contact Ailee and brought her out. Soon after, she began training under the tutelage of renowned Korean singer Wheesung and made her debut in 2012. Since her debut, she’s released songs like “Heaven,” “I Will Show You,” and “U&I”. This rising star has no where to go but up, even with her share of scandals during her career in Korea.


megan-lee_1403585139_20140624_MeganLee_52) Megan Lee

The youngest singer on the list, Megan Lee is one of the industry’s most-looked-out-for talents today. Acting, dancing, singing. This girl has done it all. Prior to debuting this past month with her title track ‘8dayz’, under Kim Tae Woo’s Soulshop Entertainment, Megan was just another YouTuber trying to make her mark in the music world. Having collaborated with the likes of Jason Chen, Gerald Ko, Arden Cho and Sungha Jung, Megan continues to show her prowess as a singer and musician. Her big breaks came in the form of:


  • Winning a 2NE1 cover contest and being flown to their concert in Korea and meeting them
  • Auditioning for the MBC singing audition program Birth of a Great Star and being chosen to join singer Park Jung Hyun’s team
  • Signing with Soulstar Entertainment – founded by g.o.d member Kim Tae Woo

While her main focus is on her singing career now, Megan also has several independent movie roles under her belt. Perhaps we’ll see her debut in Korea or Hollywood as an actress down the road? Only time will tell.


shaaaaayne-3-shayne-orok-30852042-279-4503) Shayne Orok

Last but not least, this sole Canadian YouTuber-turned-KPOP singer also gained a big break from Birth of a Great Star, and placed third overall at the end of the first season. This allowed him to sign with Sony Music Korea and released some material under the label, as well as host his own radio program. Prior to going to Korea, this singer-songwriter had a massive fan base through his YouTube channel, posting original songs and covers and wowing with his skills as a singer, pianist and composer. Currently on a break from his singing career, Shayne has expressed his intent to go back to school, as he was previously studying theatre arts before moving to Korea. That being said, Shayne has a bright future ahead of him!


Who is your favourite YouTuber-turned-KPOP star? Any that I missed? Comment below and leave your feedback!



8 replies »

  1. Do you know Eric Nam? He started off doing youtube videos now he hosts After School Club with Kevin from U-Kiss and recently released a song with Infinite’s Hoya.
    Also I guess JaeHyung. After doing covers and what not he auditioned for Kpop Star and now he’s a member/trainee of 5Live, a band that JYP is debuting.

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