Today, I have to confess I’m very happy, all because of this Esmee Denters record deal with Justin Timberlake. Like so many others in the YouTube community, I’ve been watching this 18-year-old girl on YouTube blossom into a singer and future star, while waiting for the day when some major label would sign her to a recording contract. The question back then was not if, but when. The when is today.
I first saw one of Esmee’s videos back in the fall of 2006. She had enough talent in her karaoke videos that I started following her videos regularly on YouTube. I still remember precisely the moment when I realized how good this young girl from the Netherlands really was. It’s the day she posted her cover of Mary J Blige’s “No More Pain.” I had seen the great Mary J in concert, so I didn’t think Esmee could handle this big vocal song. Thirty seconds, though—that’s all it took for Esmee to prove me wrong. I was blown away. And that’s when I started writing about Esmee on this blog because, as I said back then, Esmee could be “the most talented, undiscovered singer on YouTube.”
Well, now that she’s been discovered by the music industry and signed by Justin Timberlake, what are we to make of the Esmee Denters phenomenon?
I don’t want to make more of the story than it deserves, but I do feel that what is transpiring with Esmee has some very important significance for YouTube. Terra Naomi was the first to show that undiscovered musicians can be discovered through YouTube. (Terra signed with Island Records and her first single “Say It’s Possible” comes out June 11!) I think Esmee Denters proves that YouTube is no fluke (or one-artist wonder), and that YouTube is fast becoming a major force in the music industry. Some critics might laugh at the idea. But name one other platform that has the ability discover an 18-year-old girl in a small Dutch town, who’s never had singing lessons or any performances in her life, and make her the most sought after young singer in the music industry?
Congratulations, Esmee and YouTube!