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feature

Small screen: BIG stars!

A new breed of social-media stars are starting to develop live elements to their careers. Richard Smirke talks to those at the sharp end of this evolving new sector

By IQ on 16 Mar 2017

YouTubers/social media stars, Troye Sivan, Janelle Rominski

South African Troye Sivan is enjoying an international touring career thanks to the power of YouTube


image © Janelle Rominski

Around five years ago, Dan Steinberg received a call from his trusted friend TJ Markwalter at The Gersh Agency asking him to put on some shows by the then little-known (at least in the adult offline world) YouTube star Miranda Sings.

“He said: ‘Don’t ask what it is. Don’t even look at the video. Just put it on sale and trust me,’” recalls Steinberg, who runs US-based promoter Emporium Presents. “In the midst of confirming the shows, my marketing director sent me a link to her YouTube channel. I immediately called TJ and I was like: ‘Seriously? Is this a joke?’ He said: ‘I told you not to look at it. Just watch the ticket sales.’”

Sure enough, the show sold out instantly, prompting Steinberg to travel to Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival to watch Miranda Sings perform a matinee concert in front of 2,000 screaming pre-teen girls in person. “It was the loudest show I’ve ever been at,” he remembers. “I quickly decided two things: ‘One, I never need to be front of house for one of these shows again. And two, we really need to get into this space.’”

“‘Don’t ask what it is. Don’t even look at the video. Just put it on sale and trust me'”

Half a decade later, tours by comedy YouTube stars and new media artists now make up between 15–18% of Emporium’s revenue, with the company’s expansion into the non-traditional entertainment sector mirroring one of the fastest-growing areas of the touring business as more and more vloggers, musicians and social media personalities break out of the online realm and into the live arena.

“We’re still living in rock’n’roll and country tours, but YouTube and multimedia sensations are definitely becoming a larger part of our business, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon,” says Steinberg, pointing to the global reach of Miranda Sings, whose one-woman show – a satirical mix of off-key singing, comedy, lecturing and lame magic, performed by classically trained singer and actress Colleen Ballinger – continues to pack out venues around the world.


Read the rest of this feature in issue 70 of IQ
Magazine.


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