Westchester teen rises to fame with new app online

CARMEL, New York (WABC) -- Justin Bieber showed it was possible to become famous by posting videos online, and his trip to the top of the charts began in his own home a decade ago. His music went viral on YouTube, where he was spotted by a music producer and rose to become a superstar. Now, one Westchester County teen is looking to follow in his footsteps.

Hailey Knox, a 17-year-old high school student from Carmel, already has a deal with S-Curve Records thanks to the music she makes in her own home. While others had to depend on YouTube to break through, Knox and her friends use an app that is much more spontaneous and interactive.

The connection between artist and audience has never been closer, and Knox is using a new app called YouNow to play an original song live for her 84,000 followers. With the YouNow app, her followers get to tell her what they think about her music as she sings.

"Most of the comments are positive," Knox said. "I'd say the YouNow community as a whole is really amazing."

Young performers play to each other and to millions of fans, who thanks to the app, can feel a part of her success.

"It just keeps growing," she said. "You know, the more I go live, the more fans I get, which is really great. It's so fun."

The app is also very simple. From a computer or a smartphone, the interaction begins with a picture posted on social media.

"The picture is what people see on Twitter or Tumblr," she said. "So, for example, they see 'oh look Hailey is with Sandy (Kenyon),' and they go and watch this live on YouNow."

Knox picked up the guitar at age 7 and made her first video when she was 11 years old. Two years later, a video made in her kitchen got the attention of music industry heavyweights.

As an outsider, she followed the traditional advice to write about what she knew. Fast forward years later, "Geeks" is now her first single.

Knox goes out on tour for the first time this fall, and she plans to take her fans along with her by posting often on the YouNow app. Her popularity online landed her on the front page of the New York Times this month, an experience she calls "weird, but so cool at the same time."
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