Feature draft submission: Outside the cubicle – Andrew Huang, YouTube artist

Andrew Huang has been self-employed since he was 20 years old. He is known for his YouTube channel which has over 20 million views and close to 150,000 subscribers. He describes himself as a “genre-hopping” artist who’s always trying something new. In the past year, he has released pop songs, raps, dubstep tracks, an ambient album, an acoustic reggae tune about body piercing, and music made out of weird samples like paper or water or meth lab equipment.
[Insert audio slideshow showing his music style and how he approaches each project]

This past February, Huang released Winter, his last album to complete the folk-rock series thematically set around the four seasons. He will be visiting Australia and New Zealand in March to meet fans and collaborate with other YouTube musicians.

Huang started his music business in 2004 when he was still a music student at York University. He created a website that took commissions to create songs based on personal requests submitted online. Upon graduation, Huang continued taking song requests while working on producing original music for his albums. The business grew over the years to include corporate clients, like McDonald and Domino’s Pizza, which found him through his YouTube channel and hired him to make music for commercials.

Huang set up his YouTube channel when he heard about the video-sharing website’s capability for users to upload their own videos in 2007. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that he started focusing on making YouTube videos for songs when a few of his videos went viral through online sharing. Huang said: “I realized I was reaching more people making YouTube music videos than anything else I’ve tried before.”

According to YouTube, each month it has more than one billion unique visitors and over six billion hours of videos watched. Huang said YouTube is a great platform for creators with its huge audience and capability to easily share content. “YouTube provides the fastest way to reach the most people with your videos,” said Huang. Since 2007, YouTube has more than a million channels around the world earning money from their YouTube videos through advertisements. The top 1,000 YouTube channels earn an average $23,000 a month according to the Toronto Star.

Currently, YouTube provides a third of Huang’s income. The largest chunk of his earnings still comes from people downloading his albums and songs through online music stores iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Bandcamp. He also sells t-shirts and CD merchandise, and occasionally takes on commissioned projects he’s interested in.

“My revenue is steady enough that there are very few times I’m worried about paying my bills,” said Huang. “I have an enjoyable job that’s not as stressful as the nine to five jobs. It’s definitely a viable way for certain people to make a living if they have the talent and are willing to put in the work.”

Despite monetary success, YouTube artists have a demanding job to constantly put out new materials to attract viewers. “You have to be always creating to give people reasons to share and come back to your channel,” said Huang.

[Insert video interview of Andrew talking about the challenges and rewards of being a YouTube artist]

Huang uploads about 100 YouTube videos a year and has released 31 albums and singles through online music stores. He keeps a notebook filled with hundreds of fully-developed and half-formed ideas, and tries to get through all of them by mapping out music projects a few months at a time.

He gets up early every morning at 5 a.m. and spends eight to 12 hours going back and forth between recording, filming, or editing music videos, and managing his email and social media accounts.

Huang said the challenge of working alone is staying motivated, but the reward comes from knowing the music he puts out comes entirely from him. He spoke about the importance for YouTube artists to not get bogged down by the numbers. “There will always be someone making better quality videos that have more views and making more money than you,” said Huang. “Try to remember that you should be doing it for yourself.”

The perks of his job include connecting with his fans. “I have friends from all over the world thanks to YouTube,” said Huang. He drove across 10 cities in 11 days in Canada and the United States three years ago with another YouTube musician performing and meeting fans at local cafes. Six months after, he was on a plane to perform in Asia, Australia and New Zealand after announcing the performance times and location on Facebook and other social media outlets. 50 to 100 fans typically show up at each gathering.

Content-sharing websites like YouTube have given a platform for independent artists like Huang to share their creations with a broad audience instead of following the traditional route set by the music industry to succeed. “I’m constantly changing my sound and image to surprise people,” said Huang. “Record labels that approached me in the past found it difficult to market a genre-hopping artist like me, but I enjoy what I do.”

The quickness and convenience of YouTube also beats the drawn-out process record labels follow to release an album, according to Huang. “I can create a song and put it up the same night and get lots of plays immediately,” said Huang. “I don’t even have to leave my house for projects, I only need my computer.”

Ultimately, Huang wants his music to reach as many people as possible to introduce them to new types of music. Being a YouTube artist happens to be the perfect fit for him.

Edits based on peer critique:
I just made all the changes in the sentences corrected by Michael in his feedback.

My video description:
The video will be Q&A session with Andrew about three minutes long. It will focus on his experience as a self-employed YouTube artist.
The questions include:
1. Is being a self-employed YouTube artist a viable way to make a living?
2. What does your work day look like?
3. What are the challenges and rewards of being self-employed?
4. What are the challenges and rewards of being a YouTube artist?
The video will open with Andrew doing a quick rap to the camera. Then he will introduce himself and talk about how he ended up becoming a YouTube artist.
The rest of the video will be Andrew answering each of the questions with cutaways of him playing the glockenspiel or experimenting with making sound out of ordinary materials inserted into some answer clips to keep the interview interesting.

Draft – Back to Basics

1) Text

Moving from the city to the country is not something you hear about often from your average mid-20-year-old millennial. Cole Ellis, 25, felt he needed a shift in his career when he decided to take on his new job as Junior Cheese Maker at Monforte Dairy, in Stratford, Ont.


Cole grew up in Ottawa and majored in Kinesiology and Business in university. He decided to pursue business when he graduated and took on various jobs in technology, starting out and gaining work experience within start-up companies.


“I always liked working for small companies,” says Ellis. “You have the opportunity to wear different hats so you can get experience working in every different aspect of the company and whatever you’re interested in you can bring that to the organization as well and try to incorporate that into what they do.”


His last position as a sales representative at an Ottawa based-company called Publivate brought him to Toronto, where he would try to land big clients as the company was growing and expanding.

In our age of advanced technology, working from home in the comfort zone describes the life of what many young professionals nowadays. But for Ellis, this type of job didn’t give him satisfaction for a long-term career.


“I had to spend a lot of time of making myself busy, which isn’t great- I found it difficult to stay motivated from working at home.”


While working for Publivate, he developed an idea to start his own beef jerky company. He was told that if ever he wanted to make it in the food industry, the best way to start would be to work in the field.


“After one frustrating day at Publivate, I went online and looked for jobs in the food production industry.”


He ended up getting the job as Junior Cheese Maker at Monforte Dairy and decided it was time to move to Stratford.


“Learning a new skill set is probably what I’m most excited about,” says Ellis. “Working with your hands, actually producing a physical high quality products and working with a close-knit group of people and all working towards this one passion they have together is something I look forward to as well.”


He hopes to pursue the business aspects he learned in his previous jobs with technology with a physical and tangible product.


Even though Cole will be earning 20 per cent less than what he was earning at his previous job as a sales rep, he feels that he will able to pursue and explore more of his creativity through this job, and be more passionate about it.


Cole may not be the only one moving away from the popular technological career path and going back to basics. According to a study featured in Maclean’s, the nature of the work force is changing across Canada. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has estimated that there will be 550,00 unskilled workers who won’t be able to find work by 2016. Sorensen argues that there should be a greater focus on colleges and polytechnic universities, which would allow for students to acquire more skilled-labor techniques. He adds that “others says the country needs to do a better job of informing young people about the breadth of high-paying career opportunities in a modern economy.”


The job opportunity and opening at Monforte Dairy shows an increasing growth in local food production industry, specifically the sustainable and organic food movement that has become increasingly popular in the last few years.

According to a 2013 report by the Canada Organic Trade Association, the organic food industry now represents $3.7 billion a year in sales in Canada, tripling since 2006.

More and more Canadians are buying organic for various reasons. Health and environmental awareness are major players in this growing movement.

2) Description for Video Component

For my video component, I will follow Cole Ellis on a typical day at his new job at Monforte Dairy. I would like to get shots of him making cheese and follow him on a day at the Dairy. I want to film his impressions, of his new job and how it differs from his previous job. Is this what he expected? Is he happy and satisfied? Is he passionate about it?

I would like to talk to the owners of Monforte dairy and other employees about the business, their business ethic and philosophy. I would also like to talk more about the organic food movement and its rise in recent years.

3) I took into an account the critique and make the corrections when I have more information for my final piece.




Draft: Olympic Paycheque

Sarah Wells works from 10 a.m. to five p.m. every day except Sunday, but her weeks don’t end in a paycheck on Friday.

“I think sport, especially amateur sport, is something where we don’t necessarily get a huge paycheck at the end of a week, or two week, or end of the year,” said Wells.

Wells, a 400 metre hurdler, ran at the London Olympics Games and is a four time national champion.

An amateur Olympic athlete will receive no pay for performing at the Olympics, but if they win gold, silver or bronze they will.

For a lot of people, when they see Olympic athletes they only see the good side and see them competing at the games and think how amazing their lives must have been,” Wells said.

Believing in herself has allowed her to succeed as a professional athlete in Canada.

“There are a lot of things we have to deal with, injuries, bad workouts and bad days.”

Wells spent her 2011 season injured while trying to recover from a hernia and also a stress fracture in her femur.

“I was out for nine months,” Wells said. “I didn’t think I had the ability to make it, just because of all the signs pointing in the other direction. Fortunately things played out,” she said.

When people ask what her proudest moment is, she says it wasn’t her Olympics year but rather the year she was injured.

“In that year I learned the most and hardest lessons about myself,” she said. “I really reflected on what I wanted, what my goals were, who I was as a person and as an athlete and really redefined my sense of self.”

Even with setbacks and lack of support, Wells was able to come back from injury and disappointment at the Canadian National Championship, to qualify for the Olympics.

“I think sometimes that small voice kind of creeps into your head and says, ‘why are you doing this if you don’t have the support you need,’” Wells said.

“It’s not a guaranteed salary it’s not anything we can truly rely on… but it’s something we love to do.”

A Canadian athlete will receive $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

Wells has the support of her family financially and was able to gain sponsorship from Nike after competing at the London 2012 Olympics.

She will train and wait another four years to perform at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, being held in Brazil.

Wells said that in pro sports such as the NBA and NHL players deserve their salaries but that it is sometimes hard to swallow.

“I think just being someone in a different sport who doesn’t see the same benefits but puts in the same amount of time makes you question that process, what you are doing and why you belong here,” Wells said.

Wells will only take three weeks off training and competing for the whole year.

“I left my house at 10 am, I am here five to six hours a day and when I get home my job doesn’t end.”

Once Wells does get home she plans her meals for the next day and often does athletic therapy on her body before bed.

“My sport consumes my mind and I think about it 25 hours a day. It is something that I can’t let go which is sometimes a strength and sometimes a weakness,” Wells said.

Nike allows support for equipment and track meet fees but Wells pays for rent, groceries and transportation on her own.

Spending an average of $120.00 on groceries per week and $200.00 on transportation per month adds up for Wells.

Once a month Wells travels to school across Ontario to speak to youth about her story.

Wells travels to practice at York University every day by the Toronto Transit Commission, an hour and half commute.

“I think that increased support is always needed,” Wells said.

“Just being able to afford treatment, transportation, facility use, things like that are obviously crucial to competing in the sports and to have limitations on that obviously dampens your ability to perform at your absolute best.”

For most amateur athletes there is no other option for what they would spend their time doing.

“I owe a lot of who I am as a person to the lessons I’ve learned through track and field,” said Wells.

Wells said she has a love hate relationship with track but it is something she does every single day and grinds herself to her absolute last breath in practice.

“You get to the point where you honestly feels like you are taking your last breath,” Wells said.

“After those moments is when you truly believe you’ve done something great and you’re on your way to success.”


Changes: Restructured the story a bit by putting more important parts up front. I also made some grammatical fixes along with clarified some terms that were unsure to an audience who may not know what they are such as National Championships.