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.

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