YouTube has been the main platform for many successful musicians over the years. Most of them do covers of popular songs, as well as their own original songs. Not everyone wants to be a YouTube musician, but I guess there are things we can all learn from their success. I believe there are three things we can learn:
1) Success takes time
Many successful YouTube musicians have been making music on YouTube for many years. Many have never had one particular viral video, and most were certainly not overnight successes. They built up their audience over time.
2) The secret to popularity: Take something popular and make it sound different but similar
Many popular YouTube covers are popular because they are unique and different. It still amazes me how someone can take such a familiar song and make it sound so different sometimes. We like certain YouTube covers because they are different, hence add something of value to our musical lives. If they sounded exactly the same as the original, we wouldn't like it so much, right?
3) Be friendly and approachable, Always
Most popular YouTube musicians sound like very friendly people. If they were instead cold and aloof, would we like their stuff so much? I don't think so.