Cynopsis recently sat down with the founder of DigiTour Media, Meridith Valiando, of the first YouTube music festival founded in 2010. Platinum selling duo Karmin appeared at the first DigiTour, and the 2014 headliner O2L (already selling 100,000 tickets from February to June) will be assisting Conan O’Brien in hosting the Video Music Awards. DigiTour has since transformed into a media company that not only produces global events, but also a company that collects data on millennial audiences, merchandising, connecting brands to talent and content creation.
How has DigiTour transformed in context of the growth of YouTube, online video and the blur of what a celebrity or rock star means?
Many mainstream celebrities now look to their social stats to further reinforce their star ranking and many cannot compete on YouTube in the way of subscribers with the “YouTube stars” who are natives to the platform. It’s becoming easier to make a social star a mainstream star than ever before, because to the teen audience they’re one in the same. With a group of super Vloggers, O2L, we sold out a national tour and selling out venues that many mainstream artists could not…fans have spoken and if a celebrity is measured in tickets sold or revenue banked, many online stars are giving the “traditional ones” a run for their money.
When you pitch partnerships to brands with the event and the artists, how do you sell the act? Is there ever any difficulty, or do these companies already harness web video and web presence to see the value in DigiTour?
Our brand partners and sponsors over the past four years have been Intel, Google, Sony, Gibson, Monster Electronics and more. Sometimes we pitch an idea to the brand and sometimes they come to us with one. We’ve become a channel between influencer talent and brands for digital sponsorship and brand integration, onsite event activation, and clever wide-reaching campaigns. And, relationships with brands continue to grow as we deliver ROI with organic views, click-throughs, downloads and more. For example, with one 20-minute contest we were able to earn 6,000 downloads for a venture-backed app that integrated with our event in December.
There is a massive push for brands to work with YouTube celebs as “influencers” for their brand. What are your thoughts on this kind of partnership?
We have thought of the artists as influencers, and seen our sponsors as brand partners since we started. It’s a clear concept of integrating into an organic communication between influencer and fan, and if done well we’ve seen amazing results.
What is in store of DigiTour’s future?
DigiTour is going to be launching festivals in new markets, additional tours with key influencer talent, and we are producing a documentary around the O2L tour this spring. Our ability to pair the right talent with brands has also become a major part of our company, and we are doubling in size over the next two months.