Are you a Performer or a Creator?

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/250

Jeffrey Masin is a one-person band that entertains New Yorkers in the subway stations. I ran into him a few times while in NYC.

I am using Jeffrey as a point of reference because his performances are stopping folks, and they not only listen, but many of them are posting videos of him on their YouTube channels. Isn’t that what you want your work to do to make people STOP and LISTEN?

Here is a taste of his music:

Here is another music performance, but this is by a band, The Queens Cartoonists. They, too, have audiences STOPPING and LISTENING.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/160

You also want to hear them, so here is a clip of them playing.

It is essential to realize that they are both entertaining and very different. From a purely economic perspective, I doubt that the Queen’s Cartoonists are being tipped in the subways all that much more than Jeffrey Masin.

Just doing the simple math, you can see that there are now six verses, only one person. So for the Queen’s Cartoonists to make a similar living to Jeffrey Masin, they need to book bigger venues where they are not relying on tips. By the way, when you Google both groups, you quickly understand what appears to be happening.

The Queens Cartoonists are getting paid to do commercial work for recording and play in clubs.

photo by Jeff Raymond

Today I am a multimedia storyteller. The hats I wear look like Jeffrey Masin, the one-person band. I am the producer, camera guy, sound guy, lighting director, editor, and marketer for many projects I am working on for my clients.

They also love the sound of the six-piece band, but most of them cannot afford to hire that size band compared to hiring me. So you need to figure out expenses on top of the creative fee. The costs for six people push your price to the client beyond their budget.

But just like The Queens Cartoonists, Jeffrey Masin stops the crowds on the subways of NYC and gets their attention.

By all means, you need to learn to collaborate and work with a team to get the best product quality, but you also need to know how to do it all yourself, or you might not be working that often.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 4000, ƒ/4, 1/60

To make music, you don’t need to play every instrument, but for the most part, those songs that resonate with people are often stories. So in this way, if you are aware of the storyline, you can, as a producer, figure out how to tell that story with your abilities.

The difference between working and begging for work is how to craft a solid storyline.

I will teach this skill this year in Nicaragua, Hawaii, and Honduras. The Honduras trip still has openings. Go here to learn more about how to do storytelling and do it as a one-person band because many that will hire you cannot afford the expenses of a larger band.

Gary S. Chapman is the other instructor on the Honduras trip. Gary works with NGOs and other organizations, helping them to tell stories. Gary’s clients include Delta, World Vision, Atlanta Mission, National Geographic publications,  National Geographic TV, and TOMS Shoes. Check out Gary’s marvelous work on his website

What do all these musicians above have in common with me?

We are not just creating great content; we are fully responsible for the performance and finding our audience.

What do musicians and photographers not working have in common?

I would say that the main thing I see from my perspective is that they are all calling up other groups and asking if they can join them. They are not storytellers. They are technicians wanting a storyteller to hire them to help that storyteller tell a story.

Just look at the tens of thousands of “performers” on TV shows The Voice and American Idol. The overwhelming majority of them are just technicians. They are not songwriters. That is why you might think they sound good performing another writer’s song, but you don’t see 99% of them making a living in the industry.

Almost every successful photographer, videographer, and writer I know has taken on a personal project where they produce their content and find an audience.

I can never do all that.

If you are saying this, I understand. I, too, felt that way. If you come with me to Honduras, Gary and I will walk beside you and help you navigate the deep waters of storytelling. Register today!! Come with us and learn how to become a creator of content and not just performers.