Meghan Tonjes Escapes to Bonnaroo as Winner of ‘What’s Trending’ Music Competition

/ Jun 5, 2014

meghantonjes

For fans of the jam, there are few locations more sacred than Bonnaroo.

One of the crown jewels of the music festival circuit, the four-day event held every summer in Tennessee remains a primary destination for those with a need to rock. From its humble beginnings in 2002, Bonnaroo has evolved into a primary location for music artists to unleash unique performances and create moments that become part of pop culture legend. It’s where Sting reunited The Police for the first time in decades, and where Bruce Springsteen decided to drop in on Phish for a jam session.

…and now, YouTube star Meghan Tonjes gets to become part of that legacy.

_MJB4778-3289551202-OThe winner of the “Escape to Bonnaroo” contest presented by “What’s Trending” and Ford, Tonjes came to YouTube Space LA this past Monday as part of the final five, a select group of music artists from around the web who had been selected from hundreds of entrants to try their hand for a spot on stage at Bonnaroo.

Along with her competitors (Vibe, David Choi, Lauren Mayhew, and Bad Wolf), Tonjes’ final shot came in the form of a performance during a special “What’s Trending” live-stream event hosted by Shira Lazar. In front of a panel of judges, which included YouTube stars Chester See, Glozell Green, King Bach, and Kandee Johnson, it was clear that each artist brought uncompromising passion and drive to the event.

I was able to catch up with Meghan in the moments after her win to get her thoughts on the journey that began with the votes of many fans and ended with a ticket to Tennessee. To her credit, the singing sensation was the picture of composure, despite the undoubtedly nerve-wracking events of the hour before.

“I feel overwhelmed and numb at the same time, if that’s possible. I’m just so excited,” Meghan Tonjes tells me about her win. “When they announced my name, I felt everything and nothing at the same time. I thought, ‘I should be freaking out, but I’m trying to keep it together right now.’”

When I ask Tonjes about preparing for the contest, she reveals to me that her whole life is the preparation. For the musician, who routinely shares her work with YouTube, the contest was a logical step in a world of which she was already part.

“I’ve been doing YouTube for years. It’s been a slow burn for me,” she says. “I’ve been a part of the community and big things have happened for me. I was on Ellen Degeneres’ show…so big things have happened. This was an opportunity that came up and I thought, ‘Why not throw my hat in the ring? I’ve never played at Bonnaroo!’ That’s one of those places you kinda have to play. So, I did this, not thinking much of it, and I got to the top five! Today, I was trying not to freak myself out too much. I figured, ‘If it happens, awesome. If it doesn’t, I’m excited for everyone else.’ Then I won!”

If you get the sense that Tonjes is a remarkably chill individual, this would not be a mistake. The artist’s calm demeanor is part of her charm, and the fact that she makes everything seem effortless is a credit to just how comfortable she is with her own abilities. In fact, when I ask her about her preparation for the day’s events, she tells me that she refused to let herself give in to any sort of anxiety.

“I slept as late as possible,” she says with a laugh. “I got some Panera Bread. I didn’t do too much; I practiced a little in the car. I didn’t want to freak myself out, so I just treated it like a normal day. I knew I was going to come see friends and hang out, so I didn’t want to stress too much about the competition.”

_MJB4512-3289549687-O

That Tonjes considered the day’s events as much a social outing as a competition is truly indicative of her place in the greater YouTube community.

“My entire life is because of YouTube,” Tonjes says. “I started making videos when I was 19. I had just bought a guitar and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. YouTube has afforded me the opportunity to meet really awesome people, play music, to make videos. To me, that’s always been the dream. Now, as I’ve been able to do all these things, I think, ‘Maybe I need to find a new dream’ on top of this, because I’ve got to do all those things!”

When I ask her about the perceived stigma YouTube artists occasionally face from those who still believe music ought to come from a studio system, Tonjes is quick to point out that those lines grow blurrier by the day. Furthermore, she asserts that the only way to break those barriers is to get out there and play.

“There are a lot of people who just do YouTube,” she says.  “But for me it’s always been really important to play shows and tour. I’ve been lucky to have had both experiences. I want to know that tomorrow, if the internet is gone, that I could still do the thing I love. I feel like making videos, going to VidCon, etc. just makes your performances better and you appreciate it more, because you’ve been on the road and lived this super hard musician lifestyle as well.”

When she brings up life on the road, thoughts inevitably turn to her biggest show to come: Bonnaroo.

“I’m excited to walk around and just experience all the different kinds of music,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll find new bands to fall in love with and be inspired by, so I can write new music.”

As we part, I ask Tonjes if she’s had any further time to process her win. She gives an appreciative nod in response.

“I am incredibly humbled and so appreciative that I get to be part of something that most people don’t even understand. I get to have the coolest fans in the world and the most supportive following in the world, and to have YouTube be a part of that is indescribable to me. I’m so happy.”

Check out her winning performance here:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


alpha-legendary-digital

Legendary Digital Reveals Alpha Subscription Service Launch...

 
time-inc-jash

Time Inc. Teams with Digital Comedy Producers Jash for Branded Content

 
Amazon Logo

Amazon Greenlights Three Comedy Pilots as Series

 
cartoon-network-app

How the Cartoon Network Combined the Best of VOD and Linear TV...

 
Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!
 
jukin-media-ethos

Jukin Media Goes Viral for Brands with Ethos Division Launch

 
Streamy Awards

Streamy Awards Trade In VH1 for YouTube, Again

 
zefr-alignment-report

Matching Ads to Videos Not So Simple, According to Zefr’s...

 
shomi

Plug Pulled on Canadian SVOD Service Shomi

 
Twitter

What’s Trending on the Twitter Sale

 
Machinima Logo

Machinima Teams with SiriusXM for Daily Esports Radio Show

 
Hearst

AwesomenessTV, Vice, Complex to Power New HearstLive...

 
dirty-30-hannah-hart-mamrie-hart-grace-helbig

VIDEO: ‘Dirty 30’ Confessions with Stars Hart,...

 
facebook-thumbs-down

Facebook Says It’s Sorry It Vastly Overestimated Video...

 
craig-piligian-pilgrim-media-group

Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian (‘The...

 
youtube-heroes-for-change

Heroes or Rats?: YouTube Unveils New Program for Creators Who...

 
Vessel says it's doing well in its first month

Why Verizon is Pursuing Vessel, the...

 
jared-feldman-and-sam-hui-ph-d-at-the-2014-canvs-launch

How Canvs Media is Harvesting Emotional Insights on YouTube,...

 
marlon-wayans

Marlon Wayans Getting ‘Naked’ for Netflix with Regina Hall

 
huffpost-ryot-aol

HuffPost RYOT Launching Virtual Reality Comedy Series and News...

 
youtube-vote-irl

YouTube Launches #voteIRL Campaign Targeting Digital-First Generation

 
tyler-oakley-camp17

How Top YouTubers (incl. Tyler Oakley & Meghan Rienks)...

 
charlie-sheen-anger-management

Charlie Sheen to Star in Crackle Feature ‘Mad Families’

 
filmbuff_videoink_300x250

Gunpowder & Sky Buys Distributor FilmBuff As Vision for...

 
toy-freaks-youtube

Toy Freaks Top Viewed YouTube Channel in August According to...

 
jeffrey-tambor-transparent-amazon

Emmy Wrap-Up 2016: Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’)...

 
Twitter

Twitter Scores 2.1 Million Viewers for Thursday Night Footall Kickoff

 
youtube-sad-face-error

Vloggers Not Unique Snowflakes: 90 Million Flag YouTube Videos...

 
Mode Media

‘Billion Dollar Startup’ Mode Media Shuts Down

 
raised-firsts-branded-tv

Who Is Winning The Marketing Revolution And Why?

 
shes-gotta-have-it

Netflix Orders ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Series...

 
swedish-dicks-peter-stormare-keanue-reeves-viaplay

What Is ‘Swedish Dicks’ and Who Is Selling It?

 
seamlessly-she-monica-potter-aol-partner-studio-gmc-acadia

How GMC is Using the AOL Series ‘Seamlessly She’...

 
Netflix_new

Liberty Global to Put Netflix on Set-Top Boxes in 30 Countries

 
vincent-cacace-vertebrae

Getting to the Spine of VR’s Monetization Challenges with...

 
meredith_brandfront_videoink_300x250

Meredith Hosted Its Own “Front” Stacked with 20 New Series

 
complex-networks-hearst-verizon

Verizon and Hearst Move RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV Under...

 
Twitter

Twitter Launches Live Streaming Apps for Amazon Fire, Apple TV...

 
YouTube Community

YouTube Fights Back Against Social Media Rivals with Community Feature

 
Casual Hulu

Vimeo Opening Television Store with Lionsgate Content, Launching...

 
A Perfect Day in LA Tastemade Jaunt VR Virtual Reality

From Donuts to Malibu, Tastemade and Jaunt Get Immersive in...