So, what do you guys think about YouTube performers? Yeah. That's about what I think, too. Although some of us may scoff at some YouTubers' celebrity status, some of these performers are here to stay (for at least the next year or so -- maybe longer -- who knows). I caught up with the people who thought up and put together the YouTube DigiTour that recently blew through Lawrence.
The Pitch: Who thought to start the tour? How did it come to be?
Sarah Evershed (founder of the DigiTour), Cloud Media: Meridith and I came up with the idea together. It seemed like a natural intersection of what we both did, my specialty being new media and online content and hers in music.
How'd you decide who to bring on the tour? Was it tough or easy choosing who to include? How did you guys contact the artists? The responses?
Evershed: We started with subscriber numbers, and once word got out, we had a lot of artists wanting to perform with us. We chose based on location and who we thought had the most audience engagement.
How are the artists responding to the fans? The fans to the artists?
Evershed: The artists are so excited to actually see their fans in person and interact with them. The fans are excited to see their favorite YouTube musicians in person. We've even had fans faint and cry, they were so excited! A lot of fans also record the show for their own YouTube channels, which is a great way to bring the whole show together.
Has the interactivity of YouTube made this tour more interesting or personal for the fans? It is very different from a "normal" tour a musical artist would do, I assume.
Evershed: It is very different. To start with, we allow the fans to record the shows with their flip cameras to put on their own YouTube channels. We also have a video component where we show videos from YouTubers who couldn't be on the road with us.
What city has responded best to the tour so far?
Chris Rojas (co-founder of the DigiTour): New York City was our best crowd yet. The line for the show went around the corner and down two blocks. The energy in the venue was electric, and the artists all mentioned feeling a sensation of utter excitement hearing ocean of cheers from the 500-plus crowd from backstage. Post-show, the meet-and-greet line went from the basement level all the way up to the main floor as the hundreds of fans queued up, some for about an hour, to meet their favorite YouTubers in person.
How'd you decide where to go?
Rojas: As a first-time tour with many artists who had never performed a national run, we were somewhat beholden to the venues that would have us. We had an initial list of cities where we knew our fans wanted us, then we even opened up a section on our site where fans could 'request their city,' which led us to adding cities such as Urbana, Illinois (which was the closest venue city we could get to Chicago, which was the highest demanded city).
Evershed: Initially we also looked at the artists' insite data on YouTube to see where they were the most popular.
Do you think there will be a second tour like this next year? Any artists in mind for next year?
Evershed: We've always intended for this to be an ongoing thing, so there are talks of a second tour.
I know some of the artists on the tour are putting out albums, but has the tour helped any of the artists get noticed (more than they already are) or decide to put out something to sell?
Rojas: Ricky Ficarelli definitely saw a boost in fans from his involvement in the tour. For example, he started off the tour with 2,500 Twitter followers and topped 10,000 in just four short weeks. Also, the local radio interviews, television appearances, and print media really helped YouTube mainstays such as Dave Days and DeStorm reach an offline audience that they hadn't been able to reach before.