Kevin Massey: Broadway Star & Empowering The Artist Founder
Kevin Massey is an American musical theatre actor who has performed extensively on Broadway for almost 20 years. He also has many opera credits to his name, and is married to Kara Lindsay, a fellow actress. Most recently, Kevin is the founder and owner of Empowering the Artist.
Empowering the Artist is a new site that enables online lessons to take place; ETA handles the booking, communications, and payments associated with online teaching, and enables teachers to run their own businesses via a low cost, streamlined booking process.
Hi Kevin, thank you for talking with us at TheatreArtLife! Congratulations on the launch of Empowering the Artist. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the idea?
I created ETA because I saw the need to empower more artists than were currently being represented on these sites and at a more reasonable cost for the services provided. I thought, I can do this at least as good, if not better, at a fraction of the cost and make it completely automated. In addition, I would be putting the Artist at the centre instead of my own brand or website. I would help each Artist create their own business instead of making it look like they are just another member of my business.
As so much of our lives has moved online due to the ongoing Covid situation, did you feel like the timing was right for launching this, or had you been pondering the concept for a while?
I’ve always thought in-person lessons were much more valuable than virtual ones, mostly because of the technology at the time. However, we’ve been forced to re-evaluate the benefits of virtual teaching, because it is almost the only option available now. The technology is getting better. Students and teachers are more familiar with the process now. For example, before Covid, people really only knew of FaceTime, Skype, or maybe even WhatsApp as virtual video conferencing options.
Unfortunately, many of those require personal information to be shared with clients and the connections were very inconsistent. However, with the explosion of services like Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans and Zoom in particular, you can create a virtual meeting without exchanging any personal information and the connection is much more stable. In fact, my services automatically generate zoom links when a booking happens, so there isn’t even a need to separately email the client from a personal or business email account. Everyone understands how to use Zoom now and can see that you can teach and learn a lot more on a virtual platform like this than originally thought.
It only made sense to connect the need to the technology given the current situation and knowing this will become an important part of the teaching culture long after things return to normal. Physical location no longer matters. A student in Taiwan can now learn from a teacher in New York and vice versa.
How big of an undertaking was it to move ETA from concept to launch, and did you overcome any problems bringing it into the world?
It took some trial and error to figure out how to automate everything. That was one of the most important parts of my business. I wanted to show how easy this will make your life, because it takes care of all the administrative work and leaves more time for the artist to actually teach.
I’ve always felt a little different from my colleagues who tend to be more right brained, because I’m a bit more analytical and methodical in my approach to life in general. I feel like I’m finally able to add unique value in my community by creating a technical solution for a real problem that can be very overwhelming for artists.
It might feel a bit scary for artists to think about building their business. But, when they realise they already have the skills, audience, and understanding of how to connect with students, my service takes care of all the “business” aspects to make them a legitimate business.
So Empowering the Artist enables professionals to start their own teaching business online, keeping fees affordable, and connecting teachers with students while taking care of the bookings, scheduling and payment collections sounds fantastic – like you’ve thought of everything. What has the reaction been so far from the arts professionals who have started teaching with Empowering the Artist?
I think the better way to phrase it would be “…from arts professionals who have had Empowering the Artist build their teaching business”. The key difference between my business and others out there is that they are not joining a company of other teaching artists. I am helping them create their own, individual teaching service. I help them find students through various ways, but they are in the driver’s seat of their own business.
Most people are feeling exactly as described in our name: Empowered!
They are feeling a sense of accomplishment of building something from scratch, putting their own stamp on it, and having a legitimate payment and scheduling system, as well as their own website. If arts professionals don’t already have their own website, my company helps create one for them for a very low cost that looks great, and is able to handle the payment and scheduling tasks while keeping their clients’ information secure.
Gone are the days of following up for a lost check or asking for venmo payments after services have already been rendered. Gone are the scrappy days of finding a mutual available time via constant email communication.
The artists are feeling less stressed, and more empowered. In fact, many of them are surprised at how seamless the process is. They would say “You mean, I don’t have to send a separate email with a Zoom or Skype link?” or “So, the appointment just automatically pops up in my iPhone calendar? I don’t have to type it in?”
All those extra steps they had to take are now taken care of automatically. They have now been able to put that extra time and energy into finding new students or anything else that builds their business or brings them joy.
How can I get involved if I wanted to sign up as a teacher on Empowering the Artist? Does it matter where I am in the world, and what my specialism is?
Almost anybody anywhere in the world can have ETA build a teaching business for them. They can tailor their class offerings, prices, availability to their own preferences.
As long as you are able to teach via a virtual program like Zoom, then you can work with ETA.
There can be musicians, wig specialists, cooks, writers, personal trainers, yoga instructors, foreign language teachers and so many more that could benefit from this.
The only technical requirements are a Zoom account (free), a Square or Paypal account (free), a smart device or computer with a camera and a decent internet connection…and of course, a desire to connect with clients!
And what if I wanted to find a teacher – how do I find someone to coach me in a certain skill?
While we have been listing a selection of teachers using our services, ETA hasn’t been designed to be the hub for students to find teachers. Generally, it’s been students that have been finding their teacher’s sites online. However, I believe ETA will begin to have a search function on our site for anyone looking for a certain skilled teacher.