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Two person harmony: Yale students find YouTube fame with cover songs

Genna McCabe | Wednesday, March 3, 2010

As with much else on the Internet these days, YouTube has become a part of life. Just as “Google” became a verb several years ago, we now use the word “YouTube” in precisely the same way.

Do you want to see the latest music video from your favorite artist? “YouTube it!” Do you want to watch “Charlie Bit Me” for the 10,000th time? “YouTube it!” Did you miss that epic thing that happened on TV last night? “YouTube it!”

There is no doubt YouTube has become a cultural phenomenon. It has entirely changed the way people use and share video. And while it may be a struggle for YouTube itself to monetize its content, many individuals are capitalizing on this invaluable resource at their fingertips.

Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider, both students at Yale University, have done just that, creating a slew of YouTube videos that have accumulated more than 20 million hits.

Their winning recipe, which combines Tsui’s impressive singing voice with Schneider’s production skills, was not actually the duo’s original intention.

According to an interview on “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” Tsui and Schneider grew up right down the street from one another. Upon coming to Yale, Schneider began producing videos and thought Tsui would be perfect for an upcoming project he was planning. The song, “Can I Have This Dance” from the film “High School Musical 3,” was intended as a duet between a boy and a girl, but when the girl stood them up, Schneider had the idea to record Tsui singing both parts. From there, he decided to shoot two Tsuis in the video — essentially, Tsui singing a duet to himself. And a brilliant idea was born.

Tsui and Schneider decided to continue collaborating after their initial success. Having found a formula that worked for them, Tsui and Schneider have produced more than 15 videos and have many more planned for the future.

The first video to put them on the map, their version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, has accumulated more than 5 million views alone.
Several of their videos are must-sees, especially for the pop music fan. Their Lady Gaga medley features several of Lady Gaga’s top hits mixed to near perfection. This video, above all, exhibits the brilliance of Tsui’s voice. He delivers an inspired performance, belting out Lady Gaga’s songs almost better than the pop diva herself.

Perhaps the best example of Schneider’s production skills, their Michael Jackson medley features no less than six Tsuis on stage singing the Prince of Pop’s greatest hits, impeccably strung together. Anyone who is a Michael Jackson fan or loves a good medley will have a hard time watching this video just once.

Future plans for Tsui and Schneider are sure to include music. Recently they performed on “Oprah,” and they have recently released an album of their covers on iTunes. The album includes the Michael Jackson medley, the Lady Gaga Medley, “Don’t Stop Believing” and seven other fantastic tracks.

If nothing else, Tsui and Schneider are an excellent example of what talent, ingenuity and the wonders of the Internet can do for college kids looking to make their mark.