YouTube phenom Pentatonix cracks top 10 of Billboard's album chart

In a development that illustrates the changing nature of the recording industry, the a capella singing group Pentatonix, which achieved national prominence on TV and cultivated a following on YouTube, has released an album that debuted in the top 10 of Billboard's album charts.


Pentatonix collected a $200,000 prize and a recording contract with Sony Music (which it has since dropped) as winner of the third season of NBC's "The Sing-Off Competition." Its style -- which blends electronic sensibilities with traditional harmonies -- won over the judges.

The five-member group has since pursued an independent recording career, attracting 2.3 million subscribers to the Pentatonix YouTube Channel with its instrument-free covers of such popular songs as "Royals" and musical anthologies, such as an 'N Sync medley. The group is largely a YouTube phenomenon -- it has received almost no radio airplay.

Pentatonix's second album, "PTX V2," debuted this week at No. 10 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart.

Three of the group's members, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi and Kirstie Maldonado, met in high school in Arlington, Texas. They were later joined by Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola.

The group is touring in Europe, with sold-out shows in Italy, Vienna, Germany, France and London. Although its members did not respond to requests for comment, Pentatonix posted a reaction on Twitter, saying, "We are freaking out. We debuted on the Billboard Top 200 charts."

A new study from Nielsen reveals that more teens listen to more music through YouTube than any other source, including radio.

About 64% listen to music through YouTube, followed by radio (56%), iTunes tracks (53%) and compact discs (50%), according to Nielsen's recently released Music 360 study. More than half -- 54% -- have music apps on their smartphones.

"While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods of discovery -- like radio and word of mouth -- continue to be strong drivers," Nielsen Senior Vice President David Bakula said in a statement.

Pentatonix is illustrative of the genre-bending artists that can succeed on YouTube without the support of traditional hit-makers such as radio.

"YouTube is the one and only forum you've got," Bakula said.