You’ll forgive Lindsey Stirling if she seems sentimental on stage. This is the end of an era.
“I’ve done this show several hundred times, and Saturday is the last time I get to perform it,” says the classically trained violinist and YouTube star, who performs, Saturday, Aug. 13, at Saroyan Theatre. “My emotions might be a little close to the surface.”
Fresno is the final stop on a series of touring dates that have been running since last year and stopped just long enough for Stirling to record a new album, “Brave Enough,” which is set to be released next week on her own label, Lindseystomp Music.
You may recognize Stirling as the hip-hop violinist who first appeared as a quarter-finalist on season five of “America’s Got Talent” and cemented her fame playing EMD and dubstep tracks on YouTube, or from collaborations with Halestorm lead singer Lzzy Hale (“Shatter Me”) or singer John Legend (“All of Me”).
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Who’s on top of Stirling’s bucket list of possible collaborators? Pop singer Pink.
Stirling is a proud member of Team Internet.
That’s what she calls performers like herself, those who had made careers and became bonafide celebrities via non traditional media platforms such as YouTube. Stirling was ranked No. 4 on Forbes’ list of “YouTube Millionaires” last year. She earns somewhere around $6 million a year, according to the magazine.
It may seem crazy that Stirling would find that kind of success of YouTube, a place that, even less than a decade ago, the mass public thought of as a place for rejects and freaks, she says.
That stigma is gone. The platform has become a viable mainstream media outlet that’s used by even major record companies.
“Everyone understands what a view means, what a per view ratio means,” she says.
10,137,076 Lindsey Stirling’s cover of the “Game of Thrones” theme has been viewed more than 10 million times.
Of course, Stirling spent years pursing her career via the traditional route, shopping her act to managers and record labels. That was what one did if they wanted to be a musician, she says. Or at least that’s what she had always been told. Only, no label wanted to take a risk on a dancing violinist, even after her spot on “America’s Got Talent.”
Then she met a “professional YouTuber” and realized there was a community of artists and creators online who were connecting directly with millions of fans.
She had found her platform and her audience.
And it’s a big big one.
Stirling has more than 8.2 million subscribers, and her video, “Crystallize,” has more than 150 million views. The video for “Something Wild” (which was recorded for the Disney film “Pete’s Dragon” and features Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness) has just under 1.5 million views in a week.
“What catapulted me was the created freedom I’ve been granted,” Stirling says.
Indeed, her career is marked with risks (both artistic and financial) that would been stopped cold by any record label. On her first tour, for example, she went out by herself as a headliner. Any label would have insisted she tour as an opener and build an audience before making that kind of financial investment.
As it turned out, Stirling played to sell-out crowds, and the tour more than paid off.
On cue, the labels started showing up.
“And they still show up,” Stirling says.
Only now she realizes she doesn’t need them. She has become a savvy business woman with a team of professionals – a lawyer, a publicist and distributors for both her physical and digital media – that she hand-picked and trusts with her career.
It’s a change from the days when she did everything by herself, including mailing out merchandise to her fans. She always made sure to include a handwritten note. And while she gets to engage her artist mind more with her team in place, the change is not without its struggles.
“I’ve had to learn to delegate,” she says.
No one was willing to take a risk on a dancing violinist.
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13
- Saroyan Theatre, 730 M St.
- 800-7450-3000, www.ticketmaster.com