Stories of Starting Episode 6: Patrick Balyan, Event Organizer & Community Promoter

Stories of Starting Episode 6: Patrick Balyan, Event Organizer & Community Promoter

Today we speak with Patrick Balyan, Event Organizer & Community Promoter. Patrick founded What’s Up Montreal, a collective 0f locals who love Montreal and have a passion for content creation. Creators share their urban adventures  via vlogs and images.

Patrick also founded Creator HQ, formerly #YouTubeMTL. CreatorHQ is a community of content creators from the Montreal area and surroundings. Their mission is to unite Montreal Web Content Creators, connect them with other collaborators, educate and support them in the pursuit of their creative and/or entrepreneurial ventures.

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Video transcripts:

Intro: Welcome to the Stories of Starting podcast. I’m Heather Boyd as a self-employed artist for the last thirty years I’m fascinated with people’s passions and creative projects. In this series we discover how people like you have started new projects by thinking outside the box going with the flow and tapping into their childhood imagination.

Heather: Welcome to the podcast. Today we’re here with my friend Patrick Balyan. Patrick please introduce yourself and tell us what you do.

Patrick: Thank you very much for having me on the show Heather. My name is Patrick. I am a creator at the core base. That led me to starting a community with other content creators. Now we do all kinds of events and activities to helping creators grow and help each other. It’s just this beautiful movement.

Heather: Fantastic. I’m going to backtrack a little bit and tell everybody how we met. I heard about you a few years ago when Creator HQ used to be called YouTube Montreal. One of your members had created a video of you guys up at The Summit doing a tour of the lookout. I was fascinated. I thought this is so cool. I didn’t even know that there was a creator community in Montreal. My daughter Mimi and I were both doing YouTube at the time so we both signed up right away. We submitted our YouTube channels and became members. Then the first event I met you at was Buffer which is a YouTube festival in Toronto. After that I really dove into the community and became a volunteer and really just loved what you guys were doing.

Patrick: Yes I think we had a quick event at the popsicle stand, that’s where we met.

Heather: Oh yes, it’s possible.

Patrick: Yes, we met there for first time. From there we went to Buffer right after. That definitely brings us back. That was about 2016. We did a huge event in May of that year and that’s what made us like blow out. That’s what made us get known and get in front of the eyes of other entities as well as creators. That’s where we were invited to go on summit. That’s where other people discovered us and here we are today. 

Heather: Yes, it’s so amazing. Personally I’ve benefited so much from the community. My youtube channel has grown a lot. I’m up to 20,000 subscribers and just hit 2 million views which is amazing.

Patrick: That is insane. That’s more than me I’m gonna admit. I don’t consider myself as a guru. I’m not necessarily an expert in everything. But definitely the tips I give to people lead to what you did. How you found your niche. Finding the certain things you want to do. Finding your style. I feel I don’t even apply what I tell you to myself. I have so much going on at the same time I can’t just focus on that. I also took a backtrack from YouTube to start focusing on my stuff. Whether it’s the events or other projects. I took a winding road. I still feel it’s growing but maybe not as fast as with you. What you’ve seen the past couple of months.

Heather: For sure for me because I’m very niche and very on one topic. I know you have so many projects on the go including What’s Up Montreal. Can you tell us a little bit about What’s Up Montreal.

Patrick: That is the YouTube channel that got everything started. I had other channels before but that was my first channel I took seriously and professionally. The idea came from we wanted cover things around the city of Montreal. I’m from the suburbs and I was going to university. I love the city. I love discovering the city yeah and I love doing videos. I just put two together and said I’m going to be covering the things I’m discovering and recommend them to other people. That led me to start What’s Up Montreal. Today it is a recommendation based. A lot of people are able to go go on our different platforms Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and so on and get recommendations of what to see what to do around the city of Montreal. It became a community on its own. In the past couple of months I would say it’s really growing exponentially. People have been joining in the movement and started to capture their moments and show us. It is very touching to see. It’s more than just my discoveries. It’s brought the Montreal community together to make their own discoveries and share those discoveries with others. To help others in the same way.

Heather: It’s true what started with this YouTube channel has really grown thanks to different platforms on the internet. I know you’re really super active on Instagram stories. You’ve done a lot of live streams too which is such a great way to reach people and to be interactive.

Patrick: Yes definitely it did open new possibilities and new windows that YouTube couldn’t do it on its own. The whole movement of video on demand. A lot of people would rather consume media on demand. But even that wasn’t interactive enough with your own audience. In Stories you can create different actions for people to able to take and react to them right away. They’re only there for a temporal time so people have no choice but to react once they’re up. If not it disappears. Doing lives and using new tools are definitely getting a much more direct reaction rather than if someone comments on an old video that is three or four years old and you’re like oh I’m past that! Definitely things become more relevant if it’s during the time it’s live.

Heather: I know because often you’ll tag me in a story and by the time I get to it it’s already gone. You really have to be quick. You really have to be on it. You’ve mentioned to me before that when you were much younger you used to do video as well. What would have been some of your very first videos that you did.

Patrick:  I did a lot of comedy sketches. I started with AMV which is anime music videos. I had an editing software. I was pretty young. I would take clips from the internet. Back then there was no YouTube so you could just download videos from different platforms. I used to download videos from different animes I used to watch. I used to download video game footage. I used to take a music track then I’d synch it. Kind of like making a music video.

Heather:  How fun!

Patrick: Actually it’s a thing right now on YouTube. It’s called AMV. People often do it and it’s super cool.

Heather:  And you were doing this a long time ago.

Patrick:  I started editing at the age of eleven due to this Lego toy I bought when I got as a gift. It had its own stop-motion Lego software. But you couldn’t create stop-motion on your own. It was already shot by Lego. It kind of introduced me to the whole concept of timelines. In terms of what is a timeline, how does the timeline work, how do you put clips together, how do you add music. It started there. Then I started doing AMV’s. Then I had a camera so I started filming stuff that’s happening at home or family events. Then I started to write scripts and funny sketches or improv. And this was before YouTube was a thing. There was no way to do share this online.

Heather: I was going to say, did you share these?

Patrick: No, you couldn’t share them and now I don’t want to share obviously because it involves my family members and it’s private. Maybe sometimes it’s a little bit too embarrassing. It was fun and that’s how I started doing videos and editing and so on.

Heather: Yes,  great learning process.

Patrick: Yes and when YouTube came into place it gave a platform to do more series and to have more of a concept. As a kid I was always interested in the entertainment world. Whether it be videos or acting, having a TV show, or having a TV channel. I used to always be with fascinated TV. I used to always watch TV. I said I’m going to go on YouTube and create my own series because obviously I’m too young to have own TV show pitch. But YouTube definitely gave me the opportunity to start whatever I wanted to do. I did a lot of tests but finally with What’s Up Montreal I was like okay now I have a common theme. I can have a series out of it. I definitely want to do more like a series not just temporal views where you watch the video and you’re just like okay, I get it. I want to do episodic things. I never got the time to actually do a web series. That takes a tremendous lot of time. But it would have been cool to create some sort of web series. I was definitely able to create a game show. An online game show which was much more entertaining to watch. You can always rewatch it.

Heather: Was that the race?   Watch: Montreal Urban Race

Patrick: It was the race.

Heather: I loved that.

Patrick: With the What’s Up Montreal video you could watch it to get the information but you would not necessary re-consume it. Some you would but most of them you wouldn’t. The race one definitely allowed it.

Heather: Yes, I loved that one. I remember getting really engrossed in it.

Patrick: Those are more fun to to actually produce. Eventually if I could do a story building that could be cool too. I still keep watching TV shows and I’m like how cool it would be like to be part of the team producing these kinds of shows.

Heather: It’s incredible that people have that opportunity now. When I started a series called Wire Lady TV. It’s like weekly live streams that I do. It’s literally no trouble at all to do it because you just basically hop on live. Basically I’ve created my own TV show which anybody can do now on the Internet. It is really amazing.

Patrick:  Yes, definitely social media and the whole internet era gave us an opportunity to be discovered and to be able to put things out there. It’s interesting when I look back. Besides the videos I used to always take pictures of random stuff. Whether it was architectural buildings or whether that was my food at the restaurant. But we couldn’t share. There was nowhere to share this stuff. People used to look at me like I was crazy. I always to go out with friends at high school and take pictures all the time. They were like what is this kid doing?

Heather: What are you going to do with them?

Patrick: Today it’s the inverse if you’re not taking a picture you’re a weirdo. It’s the complete opposite. To see that dynamic of how have things changed is fascinating for me. I used to do this way before social media was a thing. For me it was always a passion to take pictures to take videos to do stuff with media. Now it’s like any kid could have his own channel and be online just because they have the opportunity. You’re right, a lot of people started their own TV shows and web series. A lot of people started their own talk shows, podcasts and so on.

Heather: The podcast thing is huge now. I really resonated with the podcast. I actually took a course with Creator HQ about podcasting. I remember thinking, oh this is interesting I’d love to do it. So I did the course and I thought this is cool. I was a little intimidated with the technology. Then after having talked to you and you recommended a platform I realized this is much easier than I thought it would be.

Patrick: Yes definitely and even for me doing podcasts is less fulfilling because I feel the challenge isn’t there for me. I’d rather do videos and create a story. What I like about podcast is that it’s so easy to produce. It’s so quick and easy to produce because you don’t have the whole visual aspect.

Heather:  Except this one!

Patrick: Yes, except for this one but generally speaking there’s not much editing or anything. It’s very quick, easy and it’s up. People who love it they consume it. It’s fulfilling more in that sense but less in the sense of producer/production. I also wanted to say for artists and musicians getting the opportunity to get discovered. Before you had to go through a label. You had to get discovered by the big players to have your own music being played on radio. Today with Spotify and all these different apps that exist you put your music out there you get discovered and possibly a radio show will call you to put your music there. Or you can you can make your own CDs. It’s way more accessible. It’s really showing that everyone can be creative. Everyone can put things out there. Coming back to Creator HQ that’s the whole purpose. You are able to do what you love be who you are and still have a platform to put yourself out there. People who say I love writing books for example, well guess what you can actually have your own ebook and it won’t cost you much. You can have it out there and people can discover you.

Heather: What is the difference between Creator HQ and Lounge 4284

Patrick: The most easy the difference between the Lounge and Creator HQ is the lounge is the physical space where we are right now. It’s a cultural space where we want to do the studies, where we’re going to get information, we’re going to put on events. We represent different communities, not just Creator HQ. We represent multiple different communities that are part of the digital roam. Events about social media, about productivity take part here and at the two locations (Plateau Mont Royal and Longueuil). Creator HQ will focus more on the creator side. It’s the community for content creators. The lounge has its own community that regroups multiple communities but Creator HQ regroups mainly creators. Especially now more in Montreal but we are expanding. We have people asking us from across North America to to be present and create a branch there. We will do events with the goals of always putting creators up front. That’s the main thing.

Heather:  So Patrick tell us a little bit about the big creator event coming up in the fall we had one last year and now its second version is coming up in November.

Patrick: Yes, you’re talking about REC. Fall is a big time for us there’s a lot happening. REC is a perfect example of what Creator HQ will put in front and we are using the facilities at the Lounge. We did one last year. The whole goal was to create a convention for content creators here in Montreal. We’ve had several different kinds of conventions. They’re no longer really around. It’s very rare to see something happening here in Montreal for multiple reasons. We definitely wanted something that was less industry and more by creators for creators. REC was a perfect example of that kind of event. It wasn’t one of those big creator events like VidCon or Playlist Live. Those are huge conventions in big spaces. I would dream to do events like. I could be part of their team or just create my own. I would love to do something that. It’s a big challenge and it’s very fulfilling.

Heather: Yes, you can work towards it.

Patrick: The problem with bigger events right away, not only is it the question of are we gonna have the audience or not because we could probably have the audience. It’s more of what is the end result. Again because we’re trying to put creators in front we wanted by creators for creators. It’s an event that’s completely reflecting the needs of all creators. REC was a perfect example because the three letters represent the three different stages people go through when they attend the event. By the way everything we do is bilingual because we’re in Quebec we have a lot of French members who want to want to be a part of it so REC is one of the perfect examples. It was a bilingual event. It’s still going to be a bilingual event. The three stages are R being realization or realize. So realizing our flaws. Realizing what we want to work on or where our weaknesses are. Then we go to step number two which is E for educate. We get educated on how can we get stronger on these or are we going to take the decision and say I’m not good at this and I’m going to delegate. Making those realizations through the education aspect.  And C being creation and creativity. Very important that people don’t leave empty-handed. We have a lot of creator labs, we have a lot of activities going on so that people can actually implement whatever they learn. They can leave with something with their hands and say I did something today. I didn’t just sit down and learn and do stuff. The workshops themselves are very hands-on. Then you really get to the creative part whether it’s learning how to create a video, you do collaboration, you do activities. There’s so much going on that really fills your day. It reflects the general convention format where there’s multiple tracks. You can to choose if you want to go more to the panels, we call them REC Plays. Or you want to go to the workshops or you want to go to the labs. You can really choose the different facilities.

Heather: Not only is it a great opportunity to learn practical skills but it’s such a great opportunity to collaborate. I’ve met so many people through this community and that events like that where we’ve done video collaborations and shared ideas. All kinds of different things. Everybody in this community has their niche has and their talents. I find it’s it’s such an amazing synergy between all the members.

Patrick: Definitely, you’ve been observing that since day one. Any kind of event we’ve held whether it was REC or something else people always end up networking, meeting each other and deciding to collaborate. That was a one of the most beautiful outcomes from what we’ve been doing so far and what we’re continuing to do. Because online communities are great you can potentially build collaborations but nothing beats meeting people in person.

Heather: Patrick another event coming up is a social media detox event. Tell us a little bit about that one.

Patrick: This one this one is very important. Today we never thought we were going to get to this point. The community already evolved from simple meetups to having to answer questions and people needing more information and resources  to ‘I can do this anymore’ situations. This whole social media era, especially the last year and a half has been causing a lot of anxiety, depression and generally people not being happy. By being the community we have a lot of people coming to us and expressing themselves about these things. Then they realize they’re not alone and a lot of people are having these issues. So we said why don’t we do a detox event where we get away from our phone. It’s a no-phone zone. Focus on yourself. Focus on your environment. Focus on the people. We do a lot of exercises about confidence. We do a lot of exercises about connecting with ourselves. A lot of exercises about connecting with others and just being human at the core. We finish it off with a with a group discussion where we talk about things beyond the whole scope of likes and followers. If I ask you a question right now, if all your listeners and viewers think about it, what are the likes. What are the followers, honestly how is this changing your life? So many likes is is not equating happiness.

Heather: I know that you’ve been approached by schools to go in and talk to the kids about how to have a balance.

Patrick: That was something that we didn’t expect. How would I know that schools were going to call me five years after I started the community to say something’s going wrong in the schools. It’s sad to hear that kids are being affected as much as we are. They are being affected on the different level as well because that’s the only thing they know now because they grew up with social media. Whether it is cyberbullying, whether it is over expressing yourself, whether it is trying to keep up with a game of having the likes and so on. The whole gamification with the apps that makes us try to get more and more and more. The kids are getting sick. The principals are complaining that they’re having anxiety, they’re having depression.

Heather: It’s a great role mode. Here we are people that are creators. We rely on social media for our business and for our livelihood but recognize that there are problems. We need to find of a happy medium in all this.

Patrick: Definitely. It’s all about balance. It’s all about understanding. It’s detachment. If you’re able to detach yourself from the whole technology you’re doing good. It’s really understanding what social media is and how it’s a tool. It’s a communication tool. You can build communities and you can do stuff with it but it stays there. The major word is communication.

Patrick: If you are ever around Montreal I would like welcome you to come to do any of our events. If we can like do more eye contact and and feel more comfortable with ourselves and let’s do.

Heather: That’s awesome. Thank you so much Patrick for coming on the podcast.

Patrick: Thanks for having me.

Heather: I’m so happy to finally get you on and do some collaborations together. It’s been such a great ride with Creator HQ.

Patrick: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you also for all the support you give and the help you give. We wouldn’t be doing this right now if you didn’t take part in our community.

Heather: It’s such a such a wonderful thing. We’ll see everybody the next time. Thanks so much for watching. Bye.

Patrick: Bye.

Outro: Thanks so much for tuning in to Stories of Starting. Until next time always remember your story matters.

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