YouTube has launched the careers of countless music stars in recent years. It seems that if you are dreaming of becoming the next Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, your first step should be to log on and post a video.
But Megan Nicole, one of the most successful singers on the site with more than 500 million views, needed a little more persuading. She told Young Post over Skype that it was actually her dad who said she should start a channel.
"He was the one that saw people using YouTube as a platform to start sharing their music, so I decided to give it a try," says the 21-year-old singer from Houston in the US state of Texas.
Before joining YouTube at the end of 2009, she was chasing her dream using more conventional means, performing at open mic nights and talent shows.
Nicole began with covers of popular songs; her first was Use Somebody by American band Kings of Leon. The video proved a hit, so she started posting more. Slowly, her following grew. But it wasn't until her subscriber list hit six figures that she realised her dad might have been onto something.
"I think a big moment for me was when I hit 100,000 subscribers," she says. "I mean, 100,000 people are waiting for a new video from me and that's when I kind of started taking YouTube more seriously."
As she continued to grow musically, and as her channel expanded, she began to share songs she'd written, too. In 2011, she released her first official original song, B-e-a-u-tiful, which has been viewed almost 30 million times. A year later, Nicole signed with Bad Boy Records.
Signing with a major record label gave her the chance to meet and work with many experienced producers and writers. Most notably, she got to work with the label's founder, Sean "Diddy" Combs.
Unfortunately, the young singer wasn't happy with this process of making music, so the record never saw the light of day. Instead, she decided to break off from the major label and start again.
"I got a fresh start and now I'm doing things on my own," she says.
In October, she released her debut EP, Escape, featuring original music co-written with producer Tom Mgrdichian. But going from covers to writing and performing original songs was daunting. When she finally released B-e-a-u-tiful, Nicole says it was both exciting and scary.
"It was very exciting because I finally got to share another side of me through the music," she says.
"But it was scary because with cover songs, those are songs that have already proven themselves. [With original material], you're putting your heart out there."
There was no cause for concern: the response has been very positive, with her fans loving her original music as much as her covers. Nicole says having them accept her music is "everything to me". Her YouTube channel now has more than 2.7 million subscribers. Seems her dad definitely knew what he was talking about.
Late last year, Nicole went on her first official tour, accompanying the band Boyce Avenue, another act to have made their name on YouTube. For most of the dates, her performances were acoustic, where it was just "me and my guitar". All her hard work slogging away at the live circuit pre-YouTube fame proved invaluable.
"I'm still continuing to grow as a performer every day. I think I'm just becoming more and more comfortable on stage. I'm not afraid to take risks," she says. "People [were] actually clapping and singing along to the lyrics of B-e-a-u-tiful, and it was just an amazing feeling.
"I knew it was something I wanted to do forever and ever".