Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, celebrities, and brands. It is also a perpetuator of ‘FOMO,’ reminding us that ‘IRL’ experiences are way better than virtual ones.
This idea is the basis of DigiTour Media, a leading producer of live events featuring social media stars. Fans may use social platforms like Instagram, YouTube, YouNow, and Musical.ly to discover talent, but the relationship between social star and fan has largely been a digital one. DigiTour produces concerts (DigiTours) and festivals (DigiFests) to bridge this gap, giving fans the opportunity to meet and watch perform the social stars they’ve come to love.
DigiTour has partnered with leading brands like Coca-Cola, Verizon, State Farm, and the company also recently partnered with Good Times, a group of Instagram, Musical.ly, YouTube, and Snapchat performers. The DigiTour: Good Times tour, which will make stops in 23 major markets, kicks off next month and will feature talent like Tyler Brown, Bryce Hall, Jackson Krecioch, Mikey Barone and Justin Blake.
For more on DigiTour, we spoke with CEO and co-founder, Meridith Valiando Rojas:
Found Remote: How did the idea for DigiTour come about?
Meridith Valiando Rojas: I was managing an artist on Capital Records and he had everything but the most important thing: an audience. He was about to get dropped and my co-founding partner (now husband) who was producing the artist and I went into problem-solving mode. We decided he needed two things: a tour and a social media following and there was the light bulb: a social media tour. We knew something was happening on YouTube and at the time nothing yet existed to bring the online talent to meet their fans IRL. Experiences were becoming even more important with technology consuming more and more of young people’s time and attention. We decided to launch a tour bringing digital talent to meet their fans – DIGITAL TOUR = DigiTour. It initially began as a way to help save my artist but when I brought him the idea he fired me. He thought it would never work. Seven years later we’re the largest producer of live events featuring social media stars and sell hundreds of thousands of tickets.
FR: Not all YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat stars have stage experience. How does DigitTour help prepare them?
Valiando Rojas: As I mentioned, the most important part is an audience. We start with that. Then once we identify talent who have captivated a following we then dig in and figure out how to creatively interpret their popularity on the live stage. We are often the first people to put them in this setting. A good amount of the talent we work with are not musical and so we are developing skits, sketches, interactive games and then diving into rehearsals, sometimes improv classes, movement, choreography etc. It is basically boot camp.
FR: You recently announced a multi-year partnership with Good Times. Why are you confident that fans will turn out year after year for one company’s talent roster?
Valiando Rojas: We love to identify talent early. Our bread and butter has been to align with emerging talent on the rise so we can be a part of their story and the Digi platform can actually play a part in elevating their brand. We did this successfully with other talent like O2L (a group that was comprised of NYT bestseller Connor Franta and YouTuber actor Kian Lawley, as well as music duo Jack and Jack, and most recently #1 Muser Baby Ariel — we were the first company to tour Musical.ly stars). Good Times is comprised of talent who have a highly engaged audience. They’re still a bit underground but have a very hardcore fanbase. I have high hopes that they’re just getting started and that we can produce many tours and experiences together to bring them to their growing fanbase. Also, if we have more than one tour in mind with a group of talent it gives us more room to experiment with programming and routing that allows us to continue to evolve the show and enhance the experience.
FR: There has been so much written and said about the demise of live events. How will DigitTour continue to buck the trend?
Valiando Rojas: The entertainment landscape has flipped on its head with advances in technology however live has actually remained an essential traditional format that only has grown more important. Gen Z, the demo we focus on, never really knew what it meant to save allowance to buy a CD. They expect music and media to be free or ad supported. They don’t expect a concert or a meet and greet to be free, however. They will do whatever it takes to attend, beg their parents, do more chores, save their allowance for weeks. They also feel hyper-connected to this talent and see them more as friends than idols. There is a need for experience. I don’t see this need going anywhere. It has only grown over the last seven years that we’ve been running DigiTour. We are often teens’ and tweens’ first concert experience and I find that to be a remarkable privilege. We want to get them off their phones (sort of), to be IRL, and our events have motivated them to do that. No live streaming event or piece of content on their phone compares to being there and so experiences are on the upswing in my opinion.
FR: How does DigiTour keep track of all the talent and platforms that continue to spawn? What are some of the current trends that you have your eye on?
Valiando Rojas: We are obsessive. We live and breathe this world and so we’re just in it. Since we became a part of the ecosystem we have a lot of incoming interest from talent who have seen DigiTour as one of their goals. We also have an awesome fanbase that tells us who they want to see and who we should book. We believe being first is key and speed is important. We were the first to tour YouTubers, then Viners, then YouNowers, then Musical.ly stars. We are always focused on new platforms and how it impacts our business. For example with Musical.ly stars blowing up our audience aged down three years. There is no newer platform that we’re booking from but we are focused on life casting and live streaming and seeing how that continues to bring new talent to the forefront. Musical.ly’s live platform live.ly is doing a great job. And while we don’t see another platform today that is brand new and making new social stars that could all change tomorrow. This space moves fast!