Meridith Valiando Rojas and her concert and events business, DigiTour, may be the most successful road show you’ve never heard of.
Valiando Rojas’s startup produces concerts and events featuring musicians she finds on social media platforms, particularly YouTube and Vine. The artists, with names like O2L (short for Our2ndLife), have collectively amassed online followings of 80 million, and sold some 120,000 tickets to performances held in such cities as New York, San Diego, London and Toronto.
“We only really work with the biggest,” Valiando Rojas said, as she described her venture Thursday at Code/Media Series: New York at the Steelcase WorkLife Center in Manhattan. “At this point, this is their job. They’re making in excess of $1 million a year.”
Valiando Rojas talked about her journey in the music business, which roughly tracks the digital awakening of the industry. She began working as a talent scout for Columbia Records at the age of 15, attending school and hitting the clubs at night. By the age of 23, she moved to Los Angeles to work for Capitol Records, where, by her recollection, “we spent way too much money.”
One day, one of the label executives sat her down and asked her to develop a social media presence for artists — and a touring business.
“He gave me the best idea of my life,” said Valiando Rojas.
DigiTour was born to bridge the gap between traditional and digital media. She scouts YouTube and Vine to find the emerging social media stars of the millennial generation. She works to find brand partnerships for artists like 15-year-old Anthony Quintal — known to his fans as Lohanthony — who has attracted some 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube.
“The majority of it is brand deals; a lot of them are five, six and even seven figures,” Valiando Rojas said.
Admittedly, acts like Fifth Harmony may not yet be household names, but the music video for the group’s new single, “Bo$$,” has garnered more than 16.6 million views on YouTube. And the YouTube nation has snapped up tickets for the opportunity to see these acts perform live.
The success of DigiTour has attracted investment from Ryan Seacrest and Advance Publications, parent company of Condé Nast. She is also working with Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise to launch a videogame music tour.
Valiando Rojas said these days, she’s looking beyond YouTube for the next new social media stars.
“I’m spending more time on Vine than I am on YouTube, looking for talent,” she said, noting that social media continues to evolve. “I think there will be stars coming out of Snapchat — that’s what’s the most important right now. Teens are using it. It’s more intimate.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.