Hooray – it’s update time with the rather marvellous chap, Paul Alborough, aka Professor Elemental. I know he’s been at Crufts recently, helping out with a dog charity, so it seems a good time to post this update! Although I first met Paul back in the 1990s, we first met him in this context in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015 and most recently in March 2016. At that point, this was his plan for the upcoming year: “I will probably keep things slightly more simple this year overall. In amongst the busiest year of shows yet, I’d like to try to diversify – try more writing and some voice work beyond the Professor. I still love life on the road, but it might be nice to see what I can achieve without leaving my house.” So, did he actually leave his house, or did he spend the year making diagrams in his lair? Read on to find out …
Hello again, Paul! Splendid to “see” you again in Libro Towers. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Slightly ahead of where I’d hoped to be, which is nice. Something I’ve started doing (and highly recommend) is making a huge spider diagram of all you want to achieve and how you are going to get it done – then hanging it on your wall for the year ahead. It worked a treat for 2016!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
One big change has been introducing Patreon, which is a way that fans can support you to keep creating art on a monthly basis. It fits my fanbase and work rate perfectly and has been a lovely way to connect with listeners, while providing a way to create more ambitious projects.
I’ve also grouped shows together in two ‘tours’ and ringfenced off certain months, so we are actually able to take family holidays this year. It has made the world of difference.
Oh and the voiceover work I’d been aiming for is taking off. Usually some variation of the Professor character, but I am not complaining. There’s also a podcast which I’ve recorded with a great cast and a new novel in the works, so plenty to keep me busy. In amongst that, things remain consistent – weird adventures, silly songs and a solid underpinning of relentless administration.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
Five important things I have learnt in 2016:
1. Plan out your year ahead and how you are going to achieve your plans in various stages. Tick off each thing so you feel like you are progressing.
2. Speak about things you want to do in the present, rather than future tense; ‘I *am* doing more voice work’ rather than ‘I would *like* to do more voice work.’ Sounds a bit silly but it works wonders.
3. When things are going well, don’t get too cocky. The moment you think you are doing well, you might have three terrible shows in a row. And I mean really bad. The sort of shows that make you want to have a little cry in a darkened room afterwards.
4. Always work with people whose company you enjoy, that way, no matter what the result – the work will have been worth it.
5. Every live show is made better by the presence of a sword swallower, team of Cambodian breakdancers, fire breather or all three.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Make sure you get plenty of sleep. And cake. Regularly eat cake in bed to be as efficient as possible.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I have a really big project that I want to complete this year. I want to use a new album as a springboard into making a creative hub where people can share ideas and tips (much as you are doing now I guess). Plus I have a plan to use some of that to fund charities. It’s very ambitious, but achievable with the help of friends and collaborators. We’ll see how I managed it next year. 🙂
“Weird adventures, silly songs and a solid underpinning of relentless administration” – I love it! You can always see from Paul’s interviews that although he’s immensely creative and has so many avenues that he’s going down at the same time, he still supports that with good, solid, sometimes boring organisation. You really can’t have one without the other, and I see through these interview series that this is something our creative friends have to take on board. I think having had experience in other fields helps here, for all of us – I certainly wouldn’t be as successful as I am if I hadn’t learned to be a good administrator first. So good luck to Paul with his new ventures! It’s interesting to see Patreon is working for him, by the way – this is a crowdfunding programme, a bit like KickStarter but with a regular payment rather than an one-off, which gives the subscriber access to special and exclusive material. However, you do have to have an audience in the first place to do really well with it – something Paul obviously has in oodles. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to in the next year!
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