Performers Don't Just Perform

By Stephen Hinde, Community Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust

Online video calling company Zoom have announced this week that they are launching a spin-off platform called OnZoom which will let people pay for live events to allow for monetisation of ‘traditionally in-person events’. Full article: BBC Technology News - Zoom Launches OnZoom.

I welcome Zoom’s approach to this model as it is opening access for a large group of people who struggled when Covid-19 locked-down the UK: yoga instructors, personal trainers, and close to my heart due to my early career – those working in the performing arts.

While everyone and every company across the nation had to change the ways in which they work there was also a huge increase in online delivery of classes, singers performing live videos, and comedians simply going live and talking to their followers. Mostly this was done out of passion and goodwill.

A friend of mine, who had a regular gig singing in a bar, was paid by the bar to go live on their Facebook page in aim of still entertaining the regular crowd – but not everyone was this fortunate. Others would simply do what they do for free and add a link to their PayPal ID as a tip jar – becoming a virtual busker.

Performers don't just perform

Ad campaigns, taken completely out of context, have hinted at reskilling – the most well-known being the ballet dancer who doesn’t know she could be working in Cyber – but every performer I know already has a bigger skill set to what is seen when they are doing what they love.

I know a holiday park entertainer, who drives up and down the country all year round, who has started driving for a supermarket – but it’s not just driving, this person has people skills, self-management, communication skills, and is more than happy to work any day and anytime. Employers need these skills and attributes right now.

Or there’s a friend who’s a tribute act and because of this has a skill level similar to a seamstress due to the amount of costumes she’s made over the past three decades – her livelihood stopped immediately but she turned her hand to making custom-order reusable face masks.

I also know a magician who builds big box illusions which are finished to a very high standard. During lockdown he’s turned his hand to carpentry, painting and decorating – so rather than making big spaces look smaller, he’s now making smaller spaces look bigger!

Performers don’t need to retrain but they can still have other jobs, and their additional skills shouldn’t be undervalued either. For many, it is essential to take on other work but this doesn’t mean they have to fully turn away from their passion forever.

Zoom’s new platform won’t just serve the self-employed performers and fitness instructors though, it will provide an opportunity for big live events that cannot just be a free-for-all to be delivered remotely. With reduced costs in venue hire, perhaps this model will allow for those high-ticket events to come down in cost and open up access to a wider audience too.

Rather than trying to simply replicate face-to-face events, this model can (and should) offer different experiences and engagement. This model is already proving successful in terms of delivering conferences, skills, and training but it will be crucial for people to engage in this model for entertainment purposes to ensure the long-term survival of the performing arts sector.

Week of VocTech

As Zoom are adapting to the challenges in market need, Ufi VocTech Trust are preparing for the Week of VocTech which is happening from Monday 2nd to Friday 6th November.
Week of VocTech is a unique programme of free online events celebrating the very best in vocational technology and championing its successes in 2020.