Justin Bieber follows a similar path as Esmée Denters, but with exponentially more success.

A paragon of the power of YouTube to catapult regular people into mega-fame, Justin Bieber emerged from Canadian obscurity to international dominance in a matter of two years.

In early 2007, Justin’s mother began to post videos of her son’s performances onto YouTube. Eventually, the videos caught the attention of many viewers, who were intrigued by the fact that a young white boy was singing R&B hits, and with such acuity.

By 2008, an executive named Scooter Braun had viewed Justin’s singing videos and invited the young talent out to Atlanta to meet with him and multi-platinum recording artist Usher. By the end of the year, Bieber had inked a deal with the two and was well on his way to completing recording of his first EP, My World.

Before the debut of any of his songs, a buzz was created online in late 2008 to hype Justin’s impending explosion onto the scene. In 2009, Justin made a splash on pop radio with “One Time,” and the rest is history from there.

Justin’s rise to fame, when you look at it, was an odd and winding trip. Typically, young stars (like Usher himself or Justin Timberlake) are groomed from the get-go by big-time coaches to be stars. While Bieber received the same treatment, he was not scouted in a traditional sense by a talent scout visiting schools or hunting for the next big thing through auditions. Justin himself wasn’t even an active member in his hunt for fame. Unlike Esmée, he never particularly posted any videos of himself.

What results is what we may, for the purpose of this argument, call the Zeddie Little Effect. Someone who does not go about actively seeking popularity ends up garnering attention and goes along with it once he finds out he’s a part of something big. Of course, with millions and millions of dollars at stake, wouldn’t you?


Esmée Denters is a symbol of the ways in which old and new media interact.

In late 2006, Denters began to post videos of her music covers on YouTube. Then, she encouraged her friends to view and rate her songs via social networking. Her fame surely shot up in her hometown, but around the world people were not yet clamoring for Esmée.

Only after she had made a few appearances on Dutch television did her popularity skyrocket. Thanks to the global reach of YouTube, American and international music executives were able to catch wind of Esmée. By May of the next year, Justin Timberlake had signed Esmée to his fresh music label, Tennmann Records.

As a result of gaining a recording contract, Esmée dropped out of school to pursue her dream. For the next two years, Esmée would work tirelessly on her debut album with Justin and a group of producers and writers. In addition, during that time she opened the European leg of many artists’ tours. Having completely transcended her original use of YouTube, Esmée now appeared in the flesh, in front of crowds of thousands.

In 2009, Outta Here hit store shelves across the world. None of the album’s singles made a significant impact on music charts in the United States, despite appearances by Denters on Oprah and other daytime and entertainment programs.

Also in 2009, Denters signed a promotion deal with b.tempt’d, a lingerie brand by Wacoal. So, even though the music kept her busy, she still had other means of keeping her face out in the open.

Currently, Esmée is working on her second album, to be released sometime this year. No one ever said life would be spelled out for the duchess once she entered into royalty. In a song on her first album, Esmée asks “What if it doesn’t work out?” By continuing to build her brand and her sound, she’s working hard to ensure that she never has to answer that question.

Louis C.K. has been a prominent figure in media for over a decade. That said, he is no stranger to the old ways of doing business. He engaged in them for years and years as he began to build a name for himself and construct his personal brand.

However, he always had intentions of making things better in television. C.K. is quoted as having said, “I remember thinking in fifth grade, ‘I have to get inside that box and make this shit better'”.

Of course, he was fighting an uphill battle from day one. Comedians on television and in movies have been traditionally bound to the stodgy corporate methods of production and distribution, which involve aligning with a production company or network in order to get a program on the air or in theaters. From there, even for stand-up routines, comedians would generally sign away the right to sell their performance via home video to a company that dealt in home entertainment.

C.K. aligned with HBO for the better part of a decade, and from 1998 they carried a number of his specials and worked with him to produce a season of an original program, Lucky Louie, the brainchild of C.K.

After its cancellation, C.K. recorded a comedy special for Showtime. He quickly followed it up with another special, for Comedy Central. But, this one was different, because he produced it independently and merely sold broadcasting rights.

Naturally, the proliferation of high-speed Internet would make Louis’ ambitious desire feasible. Two years later, in 2011he took to a digital distribution model, utilizing his Web site to distribute a recording of his performance at the Beacon Theatre. For five dollars, anyone could purchase a copy of the recording, free of digital rights management encoding for which iTunes downloads as well as other proprietary online video are well known.

C.K. took a gamble on the distribution model, hoping that his promises and his low-low price would deter the piracy of his show. He argued that buyers could actually own the video and do with it as they pleased. He even provided DVD cover art for those inclined to burn it and add it to their collections. Within a month of the video’s introduction on his site, C.K. had sold over $1 million worth of downloads of his performance.

A year prior to the release of Live at the Beacon Theatre, Louis C.K. inked a deal with FX that essentially granted him full control over his own TV show. What resulted was Louie, a critically-acclaimed series. C.K. explains how it all went down:

I went [to Hollywood] and I had other networks offering me a lot of money to do a pilot, and I got this call from FX and they said ‘Well, we can’t offer you a lot of money, but if you do the show for us, you can have a lot of fun.’ He was offering me $200,000 as the budget for the whole pilot and I was like ‘So, what do I get paid?’ and he was like ‘No, that’s the whole thing, $200,000…’ I said ‘Look, the only way I’m doing this is if you give me the $200,000 — wire it to me in New York — and I’ll give you a show. But I’m not pitching it, and I’m not writing a script and sending it to you first.’

And the rest is history.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were the fine kingdoms of Schtick, Scooter-Braun and Timberlake. And, there are many more kingdoms emerging every day.

Many are aware of the commonwealth simply known as Odd Future, which may be covered after we delve into our first wave of media royalty subjects. Helmed by a visionary who goes by the title Tyler, the Creator, Odd Future comes off as a symbiotic guild whose members actively support each other in their aspirations to media preeminence.


However, within this clan it is difficult to neglect the transcendent popularity of the Creator and Archduke Frank (Ocean), who have broken into the mainstream in order to work with greats such as Emperors Jay-Z and Kanye of the Roc-a-fella Empire and King Pharrell of the Neptune Galaxy.

Those of us who never believed we could be media royalty, are finding it increasingly easier to evolve from couch consumers to dynamic and active producers who have a shot at hobnobbing with the inveterate kings and queens of entertainment who broke out in times of yore.

*A shorthand fairy tale introduction to Justin Bieber!

Justin Bieber needs no introduction. Hailed the crown prince of pop music, Prince Justin has worked hard and had to endure much in order to earn his exalted place in the cutthroat sovereign social structure of pop culture.

Much like Duchess Esmée, Prince Justin comes from humble beginnings. As a Canadian boy, Bieber was raised by his young single mother, and as such he could not afford the finer things in life. Yet, he pressed on, learning to play multiple instruments. Justin had a secret passion for singing, which he put on display in a local talent competition.

His mother had faith in his talents, and placed videos of him on YouTube. These caught the eyes of music executives, who scurried to find Bieber and crown him.

Scooter Braun and Usher Raymond IV, one of the current R&B kings, would influence Bieber to join their united dynasty, and the rest is history. Millions of Beliebers dedicated to viewing his videos and downloading his songs leaves Prince Justin a wealthy and happy man.

*A shorthand fairy tale introduction to Louis C.K.!

Even from a young age, Louis C.K. (formerly Szekely) knew that he absolutely had to grow up to make an impact on comedy on television.

One day, with this desire burning deep within him, he took all that he had learned from watching Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and George Carlin, and attempted to do open-mic at a comedy club. He failed miserably, and retreated into the depths in great shame.

A few years later, he emerged from his languid state ready to take on comedy and television once more. Eventually, he would open for famous acts and host comedy clubs. But, that was just the beginning. In the 90s, C.K. would write for David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Chris Rock.

Eventually, C.K. would come to be desired by the entertainment industry, and HBO, in particular, would come to him seeking to broadcast his live shows. The two had a symbiotic relationship for the better part of a decade, which included an original show called Lucky Louie. But, after its cancellation, C.K. went independent.

In a series of empire-building moves, C.K. inked a deal with FX that allowed him to create a show for the network on his own terms, and released a full-length special online. The latter move earned him over $1,000,000 in less than a month, and inspired his comedic brethren to enact a similar course of action to fatten their coffers.

*A shorthand fairy tale introduction to Esmée Denters!

Esmée Denters hails from humble beginnings as an average Dutch girl. During her childhood, she was more than aware that she had big things waiting for her. Nevertheless, she would have to show her mettle to earn her place in the Duchy of Timberlake. Luckily for her, she had a gift of song.

Using her fluency in English, Esmée took to YouTube to show the world what she was made of. She unabashedly posted cover songs ranging from artists like Aaliyah to Mandy Moore and Eric Clapton. Check her out in this video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPKzgr2yb4g]

Needless to say, she was talented enough to draw the attention of many suitors, who believed she would make a powerful addition to their royal family. But, Esmée felt a powerful type of kinship in Justin Timberlake, the veteran artist who fronted *NSYNC and went on to create many hits of his own with Timbaland and Danja. She signed onto Timberlake’s Tennman Records, and it’s all history from there.