Can YouTube Stars Really Cross Over Into The Mainstream?

Can YouTube Stars Really Cross Over Into The Mainstream?

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My agency recently had the opportunity to cover night two of The DigiTour, the first ever YouTube sponsored live tour featuring some of YouTube’s top musicians including Dave Days, Savannah Outen, DeStorm, Joe Penna aka Mystery Guitar Man, Ricky Ficarelli, The Gregory Brothers aka Auto-Tune The News, David Choi and more. So, we sent our crew down to the Galaxy Theater in Orange County to be a part of internet history in the making.

In and of itself, the idea of a bunch of musicians packing into a tour bus and doing shows around the country for a couple of months is not that unusual. In and of itself, the idea of music acts posting their videos on YouTube is not that unusual. What makes this scene unusual is that most of these acts are becoming famous in their bedrooms and living rooms, developing and reaching larger and larger audiences on YouTube and other social media sites first, before ever hitting the road.

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Historically, music acts start in a garage somewhere where no one can, or wants to see or hear them. Then, they hit the stage, build a following, hustle for a record deal, make a CD, play larger venues, get ripped off by their record company, do drugs, break up, go solo, do more drugs, get arrested, make the tabloids, get back together for a reunion tour that consists of only one or two original members at a county fair and eventually fade away until Vh1 comes calling. Although many bands and musicians still follow that path, others are opting to launch their careers sitting on their beds and serenading the world via webcam.

Can They Break On Through To The Other Side?

Maybe the bigger question is whether or not there even is an other side anymore. I am seeing a new landscape of promotion, entertainment and marketing where talent, brands and products start online and enter the real world, start in the real world and market themselves online or coexist in both worlds simultaneously. The tools necessary to create video and music and market them have become so accessible that just about anyone with skills and a lot of heart can crash the party.

Dave Days vs Justin Bieber

Obviously, their global name recognition and album sales don’t even compare, but belieb it or not, DigiTour headliner Dave Days has a slight lead on Bieber in YouTube land. Although Justin Bieber is a worldwide phenomenon and Dave Days is a big fish in a relatively small pond, I see this as an indicator that the online world is gaining on the real world and that the entertainers and marketers (yes, marketers… this is all about marketing) that can best adapt and live in both worlds will succeed. Onviously Google and Youtube agree. To lend some perspective, here are the two performers’ YouTube stats, other key social media stats and live performance realities.

Dave Days Stats

  • YouTube: Joined Aug 25, 2007, 95 videos uploaded
  • #1 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Musicians
  • #14 – Most Subscribed (All Time)
  • Twitter: 162,744 followers
  • Facebook: 223,868 likes
  • Live Shows: Clubs and small venues

Justin Bieber Stats

  • Youtube: Joined Jan 15, 2007, 71 video uploads
  • #2 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Musicians
  • #19 – Most Subscribed (All Time)
  • Twitter: 9,357,413 followers
  • Facebook: 26,388,103 likes
  • Live Shows: Arenas and stadiums

As YouTube crosses over into real life with shows like The DigiTour and as the outlet finds integration into the mainstream through TV shows like Tosh.0 and more high-profile brand and product endorsements, I think we’ll see more and more niche performers crossing over into the mainstream.

A Marketing Perspective

Online celebrities will be tapped more and more not because of their mainstream reach, but rather for their targeted, loyal fan bases. If you evaluate the success of some of these top YouTube artists, not just musicians but comedians, directors and others, from a marketing angle, you can clearly see the power of video sharing sites combined with social media (social video) as well as the value of building loyal, online communities. Many of these top YouTube celebrities have self-marketed themselves into the spotlight and more and more of them are being enlisted to do brand and product endorsements and branded entertainment videos that incorporate their unique styles. We are currently working with one of them on a new video game release. More on that to come!

During the video shoot, our team spoke with Chris Rojas, co-founder of The DigiTour, who indicated they are already planning for next year’s tour. You can see his interview in the video above and we wish Chris, YouTube and all of the musicians the best of luck!


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