Tiffany Alvord, an unsigned singer/songwriter of YouTube fame, has finally earned a place in the mainstream spotlight. Alvord is slated to appear on the Nivea stage in New York City's Times Square during New Year's Eve along with Carly Rae Jepsen, Train, PSY and Taylor Swift as the winner of Nivea's "This Kiss" video competition.
"I feel very honored, I couldn't have asked for a better way to start off the year!" Alvord told Billboard. She's scheduled to perform two songs at 10:02 ET - "My Heart Is," the title track from her sophomore album, and her version of Carly Rae Jepsen's "This Kiss" that won the contest.
Nivea's "This Kiss" video competition is the company's first contest aimed to showcase rising talent. To win, Alvord's video cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "This Kiss" had to accumulate more views than 8 other contestants. The "Kiss" campaign by Nivea is an effort to promote their newest line of lip balms. "They gave us total creative control," notes Alvord. "I didn't want to copy 'This Kiss' exactly as is because fans already have the original. My style is much more laid back and relaxed, so I made it my own and wished for the best." Her video has accumulated more than 850,000 views.
Alvord's Times Square performance is nearly five years in the making. She started posting songs on YouTube back in 2008, when she began to build her audience by performing simple acoustic cover songs in front of a webcam in her bedroom at home in Los Angeles, California. Now, Tiffany Alvord has garnered a worldwide fanbase in the millions, with over 255 million video views culminating into over 1.1 million YouTube subscribers, 550,000 Facebook fans, and 200,000 Twitter followers. Tiffany's YouTube channel is among the top 50 most subscribed music channels.
"I love YouTube because it is a community - it's very friendly and we're all a big family. It's always fun collaborating [with one another] because we get to cross promote our channels and introduce our fans to one another. It's very beneficial in a lot of ways."
Artists who have made a name for themselves on YouTube are a tight knit community that is keen on collaboration and camaraderie.
Alvord notes that her first big break (on YouTube, that is) is when she performed a Taylor Swift medley with Kurt Schneider that caused her channel traffic began to spike. Then, it was through collaborations over the years with other known YouTubers such as Christina Grimmie, Megan Nicole, Jason Chen, The Piano Guys, Boyce Avenue and many more that her following really began to grow. A cover of Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" with Chester See was a particular success that has garnered over 17 million views to date.
"When I first started, for example, doing a cover in your room was good enough and everyone loved that. Then slowly, everybody started doing more professional videos and now you have to be really competitive to keep up. Right now it would be really hard to start out in your room singing."
The platform's growth has also spawned the existence of YouTube networks. The Nivea "This Kiss" contest was first brought to Alvord's attention by Sony/ATV, whom she is partnered with. Sony/ATV allows Tiffany to post cover songs from their publishing catalog of songs. Fullscreen, another YouTube partner, helps YouTube content creators such as Tiffany monetize their content through ad revenue and other endorsements or sponsorships.
Though Fullscreen provides YouTube channel owners with a number of ways to earn additional advertising revenue, Alvord admits she's averse to covering her page in ads. "I tend to not participate in those. I don't want to have ads all over my channel telling people to do things. I want to be genuine and real to my fans, so only if it's a brand I like and it fits with who I am that it makes sense."
Building an online audience requires finesse and a variety of message types through more than just one social channel. Fans have different access points depending on their level of commitment and involvement with the artist, so Alvord also employs her Twitter and Facebook page to help keep her fanbase informed and up to date, utilizing a different message strategy for each.
"Twitter is more casual and frequent - you can talk about pretty much whatever. Facebook is much more for official updates and announcements only - nobody wants to see a picture of the food you are eating on Facebook" she says.
She even has her own social outlet for the superfans, or the "Tiffanatics" as they call themselves. Two months ago, Alvord launched Tiffanatics.com just for her fans, where people can sign up to create an account and earn points that add up to prizes like wristbands, t-shirts, or even a skype call. Points are awarded for actions her dedicated fans already do, from buying her songs on iTunes to simply just sharing the video with their own followers. Doing this helps identify (and reward) her key influencers, which are crucial towards both a band and brand's online marketing success.
Following her Times Square performance, Alvord is hitting the road for an East Coast tour with Allstar Weekend, and in March she's scheduled to headline her own shows in Singapore and Malaysia.