A capacity 12,500 tickets were sold for DigiFest NYC, a festival where more than 70 social media stars took to three stages this past weekend. The event is part of a booming corner of entertainment that features performers and personalities who are generating fans via social networks such as YouTube, Instagram and Vine. Los Angeles startup DigiTour Media produced the festival, and is one of several companies putting social media celebrities on stage for paying audiences.
“As YouTube personalities grow in popularity and prove more than flashes in the pan, traditional media businesses — talent agencies, book publishers and television networks — are rushing to capitalize,” reports The New York Times.
“The biggest push has come from concert promoters betting that millions of clicks on popular videos will translate into ticket sales. DigiTour Media sold 18,000 tickets last year, and it expects to sell 100,000 this year and 250,000 in 2015.”
Social media tours and festivals rely on talent that can provide more than what is typically offered online. Many social celebrities have no experience performing beyond a webcam, and some content does not translate to onstage entertainment.
However, producers are selecting appropriate performers, catering the length of stage time based on skills and entertainment value, and in many cases, helping to coach performances. Some personalities merely show up for Q&A sessions.
For Our2ndLife, known for balancing cotton balls on their heads and drinking anchovy and hot pepper smoothies, DigiTour and the group’s management firm Fullscreen signed them up for improv comedy and dance classes.
“It’s all about bringing the Internet to life,” explained Meridith Valiando Rojas, co-founder of DigiTour Media. “For a lot of fans, just seeing these people is enough.”
New events are springing up nationwide from the likes of Teen Hoot, Playlist Live and VidCon. DigiTour has even gone global with a European division.
“It’s at the nexus of what’s happening in media,” said Ryan Seacrest, who recently invested in DigiTour. “Live events, YouTube, old media colliding more and more with new.”