Breaking into the music industry is a difficult task — unless you already have a fanbase. Look to today’s hottest acts and many first launched their careers on television.
For some, the switch is all part of the plan, while others simply fall into it. From stints on squeaky-clean family sitcoms to corny variety shows, here are 11 artists who started from the small screen.
Before the pop queen even put on a schoolgirl uniform in her breakout video for “…Baby One More Time,” Spears graced television screens as part of the rebooted version of The All New Mickey Mouse Club in the early ’90s. A semi-variety show, Spears was part of a distinguished group who all went on to have brighter careers. (More on them later.)
The Toronto rapper has had a banner 2016 with smash hits including “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance.” However, October’s Very Own got his start as part of the cult Canadian hit Degrassi: The Next Generation, notoriously playing Jimmy, a wheelchair-bound student. It’s a quirky part of the rapper’s past he managed to successfully shake as he morphed into the pop-culture titan fans know him as today.
Another teen pop starlet to shake off her innocent roots, Grande started on the hit Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious and then starred in its spin-off Sam and Cat. The buoyant follow-up, which proved to be a hit for the network, helped launch the Dangerous Woman singer into pop stardom. The show was unceremoniously canceled after reports of behind-the-scenes drama.
Before the former boy-bander found his way into *NSYNC and an incredible solo career, Timberlake was all about M-I-C-K-E-Y. As a former member of Disney’s The All New Mickey Mouse Club, Timberlake stretched both his acting and singing chops on the bubbly show.
Yet another former member of the Disney family, Cyrus famously starred on the smash Disney Channel sitcom Hannah Montana for four seasons. The show about a pop star on a quest to lead a normal life catapulted the then-unknown daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus into musical infamy.
Before she turned into the legendary R&B queen, Jackson got her start in roles on the ’70s sitcom Good Times and on the television version of the Fame reboot. She was able to flaunt her singing prowess on the latter.
The first lady of the Black Eyed Peas managed to successfully launch a thriving solo career after starring in the late ’80s show Kids Incorporated. The show, which was in syndication and also landed on the Disney Channel, focused on the trials and tribulations of the members of a young musical group.
Lovato may be one of the hottest names in pop thanks to hits like the body-positive anthem “Confident” and a buzzy tour with Nick Jonas, but long before she hit the charts, she appeared on a variety of shows ranging from Barney & Friends to the Disney Channel’s made-for-TV movie Camp Rock. She also scored a starring role on the network’s popular sitcom Sonny With a Chance.
The sultry pop starlet turned in a guest appearance on Barney & Friends before landing a regular role on the Disney Channel sitcom Wizards of Waverley Place. The quirky hit followed a family of wizards and provided the fertile ground for Gomez to plant her music career.
Add Aguilera to the list of pop stars who got their start thanks to Mickey Mouse. A member of the Disney Channel’s rebooted The All New Mickey Mouse Club alongside the aforementioned Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, Aguilera was a fixture on the hit show that regularly spotlighted her singing, acting, and dancing prowess.
Childish Gambino, the rapper born Donald Glover, still volleys between his acting and rapping careers, but got his start as a comic recruited by Tina Fey to write her acclaimed NBC sitcom 30 Rock before getting cast as the jock character Troy on the network’s cult hit Community.