Manager Troy Carter helped shepherd the career of Lady Gaga, and he’s working with new client John Legend heading into the R&B singer’s next album. But Carter’s company, Atom Factory, also has its eye on the generation of self-made YouTube stars, such as Greyson Chance, whom Carter signed in 2010. Now comes Lindsey Stirling, the dubstep violinist with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, a sold-out European tour and 108,000 copies sold of her self-titled, self-released debut since its release last fall, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Carter first discovered Stirling in February through Atom Factory’s Ty Stiklorius, who encouraged her boss to check out Stirling’s YouTube channel. “By looking at the numbers, automatically you could see this girl knew how to move the needle and understood YouTube was a venue to engage fans both online and offline,” Carter says. He quickly booked a flight to Orlando, Fla., to check out one of her gigs, and was impressed by her ability to sell out a 1,200-seat venue without any mainstream radio support.
Stirling, a 26-year-old native of Orange County, Calif., and an “America’s Got Talent” alum (she placed fifth in 2007), has harnessed YouTube in a way few musicians have-as a means to communicate with fans. She maintains two separate channels: LindseyStomp, which hosts her music videos and has some 2 million subscribers, and LindseyTime, where she posts original content from her tour and meet-and-greets to keep her 175,000 followers engaged in her daily life. She also has about 874,000 Facebook fans, 141,000 Twitter followers and 45,000 Instagram followers.
Although she’s had previous representation (“I had one manager, and for just two people it became a huge business,” she says), Stirling was being courted by several other management companies before she met with Atom Factory. “After every other meeting I remember feeling so confused,” she says on the phone from the Berlin airport, where she’s in the midst of a European promotional tour. “But with Atom Factory, they were up to date on current things and trying new stuff all the time, and I felt so creatively alive when I met with them.”
Although Lindsey Stirling has been selling steadily-it’s No. 127 on the Billboard 200 this week in its 22nd week on the chart-Carter says additional digital and physical distribution is a near-term priority to help the album stream on digital services like Spotify and sell at retailers like Best Buy and Target. But he stops short of looking to sign her to a major label. “This is about us coming in and shining what she’s already built,” he says. “We want to guide her career in the way we would any other artist’s career by keeping it independent. We want to bring in a distributor to help out with the physical goods, and also be able to tell her story a little more around the world.”
Lead single “Crystallize” already has some 55 million YouTube views for its official video and digital sales of 234,000, according to SoundScan. The song has reached No. 17 on Dance/Electronic Digital Songs, No. 34 on Dance/Electronic Songs and No. 1 on Classical Digital Songs, where it’s held the throne for 20 straight weeks (and counting). But Carter says an active radio push isn’t planned at this point.
“What’s interesting about this is she’s getting more views on YouTube than you’d be able to get from radio or performing on TV. We’re primarily focused on pushing things out through Lindsey’s network,” he says. “If we do pick up some stations along the way, that’s totally great, but that’s not what the plan is going to be built around.”