Cover to Career: The rise of YouTube’s Musicians

By Thomas Murray

It’s no secret that getting started in the world of music is difficult at any given age. Turn the clock back a century or two and an individual musical artist could hardly get their work looked at unless they were part of some storied musical school or apprentice. One of the first things many musicians do to practise their craft and find their niche is to perform a cover of an existing song, either as a tribute act or just to get a feel for what they wanted in their aspiring musical career. There was always a note with cover artists that their rendition was somehow ‘cheapened’ compared to the original, the notion that at the end of the day you were singing someone else’s song and couldn’t possibly do it as well as the original. However, with the advent and development of YouTube, online has become a wonderful audience for these emerging artists to develop the artform and develop a strong fanbase.

Below are five cover artists who found their calling on the grand stage of YouTube and how their careers developed. 

Richard Edward Bichler, more commonly known by his YouTube title of RichaadEB, is a Rock-Metal cover guitarist hailing from San Diego, California. Rich focuses on producing covers of a variety of electric guitars and basses to create a wide range of covers that extend from video game soundtracks to remixes of pop-culture songs with the majority maintaining his trademark Rock-Metal theme. While not a vocalist, EB has made a name for himself as a truly fantastic guitarist who is often asked to collaborate with other YouTube musicians. 

Caleb Hyles

With a view count of half a billion, Caleb Hyles is who comes to mind for a lot of people when asked about influential YouTube cover musicians. Hyles possesses a powerful soprano voice that he uses to cover a variety of different areas of covers from broadway tunes to anime, game and even disney music. He’s been known to tour the various convention circuits and has produced his own music that sells well, so well in fact that he is asked to score and sing tunes for well known shows. His ability as a lyricist cannot be overstated as for many anime and game soundtracks that lack lyrics he has to translate, adapt and sometimes invent appropriate lyrics for the songs he is singing, something that is clearly a passion to him.

Johnathan Young

The gravel to Caleb Hyles soprano, Jonathan Young is my personal favourite cover singer in the YouTube sphere, he has covered the usual suspects in terms of covers and remixes but the sheer variety is something to behold. Rock, Metal, Disney, Anime, Game, TV score, Movie score, meme music, sea shanty, the list goes on with a healthy colab relationship and an absolute banger of an album. Starship Velociraptor is available free on Spotify and so unabashedly rock and glam that I find myself head banging to ‘Settle it with a Sword Fight’ every single day.

LittleVMills (James Mills)

LittleVMills is a beloved Canadian cover artist who is iconic for his long black hair and black aviators. A studious patron of the arts, Little V is a guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer and vocalist. He makes use of a sonoros yet harsh vocal tone in his remixes and covers that range from the cover mainstay of game OST’s to the fleeting yet popular ‘meme music’ scene. V also takes advantage of YouTube being a multimedia platform and has worked with other YouTubers with regards to the sphere of games let’s play. The YouTube Cover artist is not limited to simply their music, but is free to expand into other avenues of spreading their audience.

Amalee (Amanda Lee)

Last but not least we must dedicate some time to look at one of the most successful YouTube cover artists in the current day and age. Amanda Lee has covered all the usual suspects as far as covers go and like Caleb Hyles is mesmerizingly good at interpreting and writing lyrics for songs that either never had lyrics or were originally in another language, pairing perfectly to her version of the melody with her equally melodious and harmonic voice. The true secret to her success can be summed up in a single word: Range. Not the range of song but rather how she has spread her image. Amalee exists in the YouTube headspace as a cover singer, has produced and sold albums of her own music, is a rising talent in the voice acting community and cultivated the V-Tuber persona ‘Monarch’, expanding her audience and talent while maintaining enthusiasm for all of it.