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Yalie YouTube stars on real-life Asian tour

Five years ago, Sam Tsui ’11 and Kurt Hugo Schneider ’10 became YouTube stars when Schneider produced a video of Tsui performing a one-man Michael Jackson medley in Sudler Hall. One million views later, the two were on Oprah, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and practically every Yalie’s newsfeed. In a world of viral entertainment, though, longevity is hard to come by, and Tsui and Schneider might have faded from relevance at the end of their 15 minutes of fame like so many other Internet fads. Not so for these two, though; Tsui and Schneider have proven themselves more than a flash in the pan. Together, they have 5,719,801 followers on YouTube (as of this writing) and hundreds of millions of views.

Tsui and Schneider are touring Asia right now, playing eight dates in seven cities. The duo’s popularity continues to thrive overseas, where fans love the medleys and mashups that made Tsui and Schneider famous, as well as their original material. In the Philippines, where they’re especially popular, Tsui and Schneider played two consecutive shows at Manila’s SMX Convention Center. They’ll also be stopping in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei.

How do two musicians known for their carefully produced YouTube videos transition to live performance? Surprisingly well, it turns out. Tsui and Schneider, who have been friends since middle school days in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, have a fun rapport, and Tsui’s days as a member of the Duke’s Men left him with a natural stage presence. Add a few thousand screaming pubescent fans, and you have what one reviewer called a “musical pep rally.”

It's a testament to Tsui’s and Schneider’s talents that they’ve been able to develop such a dedicated fan base, five years into a career that started from such humble origins. Tsui explains his success as a product of sincerity: “We focus on creating content that we're passionate about, and that excites us.” For now, they don’t show any sign of stopping.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under a cappella, Music, Kurt Schneider, Sam Tsui
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