|(From L-R) Harrison Houde, Andrew Brackin, Cassius Morris|
Traditional media is largely governed by "gatekeepers," those people and institutions that determine the fate of countless creative individuals that attempt to "break in" to the media industry. From casting directors and script readers to studio chiefs, the obstacles to success are great, and few break through to the "big time." The gatekeepers may be experienced industry veterans with an eye for quality and talent - or, they might be largely governed by more arbitrary criteria ranging from pure instinct to pure prejudice.
Alongside traditional media, however, there's now another world - without gatekeepers. In just the last few years, the "democratization" of media has made it possible for anyone with a few simple tools and access to the internet to create, distribute or simply access a wide audience.
Musicians, artists, filmmakers, writers, commentators - or, really, anyone who needs to establish a base of like-minded comrades - can do it. If they can create with quality and consistency - and navigate social media to promote their work, they can achieve their personal and/or artistic goals.
Through my Vlogger Interview web series, I've had the opportunity to speak with three teens who may not think of themselves as pioneers, but offer, I believe, a hint of what's to come:
Harrison Houde, sixteen, is a professional actor with several television and motion picture credits (including a small but hilarious role in the first "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movie). He's been able to pursue his personal filmmaking interests through his YouTube channel, xTurnipTimex, and recently used IndieGoGo, the crowdfunding site, to finance a short film. He's built his channel through hard work and interaction with the YouTube community. He creates quality content, responds to his audience - and has built a following that isn't about exploiting his professional work as an actor, but earning his success as young content creator on YouTube. [See my Interview here]
Andrew Brackin, eighteen, discovered the world of entrepreneurship as a young YouTuber. That initial social network of friends and associates made it possible for him to actively move ahead on his dreams while still a young teen. He created an internet radio station, licensing music at fourteen years old. He later co-founded GetDealy.com, a daily deal type site aimed at the tech community. Today, he's working with like-minded entrepreneurs in the US and UK to move even further ahead, even as he shares his insight with aspiring young entrepreneurs. [See my Interview here]
Most recently, I spoke with thirteen year old Cassius Morris. Cassius discovered the world of podcasting several years ago. He's co-hosted a podcast on his favorite band, KISS, and more recently has been building a following as the sole host of "That Reporter Kid Speaks." He's approaching thirty episodes of the program, which features Cassius interviewing comedians in the US and Canada (Cassius lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia). He's learning from his experience, from others, and from direct audience feedback.
Cassius' initial success (he has 4,600 Twitter followers) is also notable for another important reason. He freely shares having been diagnosed as being both bi-polar and ADHD (Attentional Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder). At thirteen, with a growing audience, he also can serve as a source of hope and inspiration for the hundreds of thousands of kids his age that struggle with the same challenges.
In a sense, what Cassius, Andrew and Harrison are doing isn't new - hard work and dedication go hand-in-hand with achievement. Unlike previous generations, however, they've grown up with unique access to the world at large. It's intriguing to consider what these three creative individuals - and thousands like them - will do with that access - and what they might achieve in the future.