James Barbour NOW on Grant Cardone TV
Bellus Magazine met up with James Barbour recently to talk with him about his online television show James Barbour NOW! airing on the Grant Cardone Network. grantcardonetv.com We wanted to know more about this Broadway star moving into the world of television. So we’ve published the interview below.
James Barbour has starred in numerous Broadway musicals, including works by Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein and more. He won the Sarastoa Magazine Best Actor Award and has been nominated for the 2001 Drama League Award, the 2006/2007 LA Weekly Garland Award, and the 2008-2009 BroadwayWorld Fan Choice Award for Best Actor in a Musical and the 2009 Outer Critics Circle Award, as well as the 2009 Drama Desk Award. James Barbour won the LA Ovation Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of ‘Jean Valjean’ in Les Miserables.
As the host of the internet Television show “James Barbour NOW” he has interviewed many entertainment industry notable guests such as Chris Masterson, Kerri Kasem, Jennifer Aspen, AKNU, Nick Ferguson, Anthony Federov, Trevor Bell, Tracee Nichols, Jim Meskimen, Morgan James, Michael Duff and Joshua Shultz.
James Barbour accepting the Los Angeles Ovation Award 2014
You are producing and starring in your own TV show. What prompted you to move into TV?
I’d been working for quite a long time as an actor bringing other peoples work to life and I realized that if I wanted to have a larger reach and more control over my career I should produce. I looked at many of the actors I admired and a great deal of them created works for themselves as a launching pad. Look at it this way, as an actor you’re basically bringing the works of others to life. It’s our job to do that and it’s wonderful. But there is a limit to the artistic
freedom that you have in this area. We don’t rewrite Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams or Andrew Lloyd Weber but instead are a conduit through which their words and music are put forth. There’s also no residual income for theatre actors meaning you work and when your contract is done so is your income, whereas producers, writers and directors have residual income attached to that very same product the actor performed in and they continue to generate income on that production even after that actor has left the show. Most importantly to me however is that I realized that I had to expand the reach of whatever I felt was artistic. I started looking at all the great artists out there and their ability to expand beyond the medium of theater, that’s what took me into producing. By expanding you reach a wider audience. Thus, I started producing live events and then moved to an international radio show and now I have this TV show James Barbour NOW. It’s an expansion of a message.
Tell me a little about your TV show. What is it about? What is the premise of your TV show?
It is basically about the business of the entertainment business. I wanted to bring on popular people, celebrities in their own right whether they’re Broadway stars, television stars, writers, directors in all the different genres. I even have athletes come on the show because in many ways even though athletes work in a different profession it requires the same kind of dedication and hard work for them to reach their goal. It’s extremely difficult to achieve a high level of success in sports just like it is in the entertainment field.
I ask my guests what they did and do to achieve success in their lives both professionally and personally. The show is focused on positive messages. If there is one thread that I’ve found in my guests is that they all have a positive outlook and credit that with being a big part of their success. They’re focused on bettering themselves and bettering the people around them and thus achieving a higher level of success, subsequently my show has that same focus. You can always find updates on my show on my twitter page Twitter.com/JamesBarbourNow
In the entertainment industry people see an actor or a singer or an entertainer. They don’t usually see the business side of it. How do you take the entertainment industry business side and relate it to business across the board?
I actually think it is pretty much the same and we can learn from each other. Grant Cardone who created the network on which my show is hosted ( MYGCTV.com ) is a business man and entrepreneur. I take many of the lessons that he teaches in strict business and apply them to my own life in the world of entertainment.
At the end of the day no matter what your business is you have get your message out there. You have to be known. I talk to people about this all the time. You can’t do art in a vacuum. If a painting sat in a closet with no one to see it, it would just be a painting in a closet. Art is meant to be shared, to be seen, heard, experienced. Much like life. So if you want to expand your business as an artist, it’s the same as expanding a traditional business. You have to take your product out there into the market place so that people can see what you do.
When it comes to performers, we are our product. But this concept also applies whether you’re a teacher or an accountant…you are your product as well. It’s what you bring to the table as an individual and how you quit yourself in your chosen field that sets you apart from the masses. That’s what you’re selling. You and your abilities to do your job.
I’m in production on a series of video lessons or ‘How To’s” regarding the entertainment industry. They’ll cover every aspect you can think of from acting, to dance, music, directing, screenwriting, etc. And many of these video lessons will use and be applicable to traditional businesses. I like the transitions, I like the crossover between the two worlds. There’s that old adage, it’s not called “Show Show” it’s called “Show BUSINESS.”
You interview people from all areas of entertainment. And you yourself are very successful as a performer. What do you see from talking to these people? What makes them successful?
The main thing that I run into with most of the people that I interview, if not all of them, is that they have a need to help in some way. Not just about themselves, it’s a need to give that comes with their success. They would not have success if someone had not bought their product or engaged them or hired them as a performer. There is a discipline that comes with hard work and with that hard work comes success.
There’s the old story of someone sitting at a restaurant counter when a movie producer walks in looks at the person sitting there and says “Kid, I’m going to make you a star!” I’ve actually had a couple of people tell me people tell me “I’m an actor and one day I’m going to be discovered.” They’re waiting to be discovered to be plucked out of their life and given their career. That’s like someone who is stranded alone on a desert island saying, “If I just sit in a dark cave eventually someone will realize I’m in here and save me.” The truth is the only way you are going to be discovered is if you light a bonfire on your island and let people know that you’re there. Otherwise, you’re a castaway stuck on this desert island with boats and planes passing you over and no one’s ever going to know you’re there. Same holds true with the entertainment industry. The market is saturated with content. What I see is that these successful people did something to set them apart. They lit the bonfires and waved their flags and made themselves and their product known.
James on camera talking with Michael Duff
Everybody who is successful does something to get themselves known but here’s a key thing…they also learn their craft as best as they can. Whether its music or painting or acting or directing, they’re continually honing their craft. They’re continually trying to better themselves. They are constantly searching for ways they can get better as a person and then apply what they’re learning and what they’re doing in their profession to take them to an higher.
Let’s look at your TV show specifically. Right now you’ve got it on Grant Cardone’s network and it’s your brand name. The show is you. Where do you plan to take the show in the future? Will you go beyond James Barbour NOW or will it be James Barbour NOW in many different ways?
Yeah. Expanding is exactly what I want to do. I’ve had conversations with many people about it and if you look at what Grant has done with MYGCTV.com it’s basically Grant Cardone TV. He’s branding himself because in the end Grant Cardone is a brand. He’s internationally known and incredibly successful. He’s a New York Times bestselling author sharing a tremendous amount of information and knowledge base to countless people and businesses. And all of them have used his help to achieve success. His brand is valuable and keeps increasing in value. Grant keeps expanding and expanding and expanding. So, with that in mind, I looked at all the different shows that I’ve done on Broadway and the concerts that I’ve produced and thought do I brand myself as that character I played? Or do I brand myself as me? I decided to brand myself as me, James Barbour.
Soon, I’ll be moving into an aspect of the music arena that we’re still in the final stages of formatting so I can’t talk about it fully but, basically, if you think about where media is going, everything is streaming…everything is streaming. Streaming basically puts the world at your doorstep.
James with Chris Masterson
It’s funny there’s a big uproar on Broadway right now because people are bringing cell phones into the theater. And truth be told it’s distracting because they ring during the show or you see people taking photos or texting. Patrons are told at the top of the performance, “Please turn off your cell phone. You cannot take pictures.” But they continue to do it anyway. It’s infuriating people to the point where actors are literally stopping the shows midway through and addressing the audience members who are using their devices. I have a different viewpoint on it. Yes, it’s distracting and yes, we might need to educate people. But it’s not going to change. Media and the use of hand held media is going to continue increase on a massive scale. Rather than try to dampen it and stop it, why don’t we figure out how we can work toward using it as a benefit. Change is here, it’s how we embrace those changes in media which has yet to be determined.
In short, to answer your question on expanding, I’m working on a project that deals with music and streaming of live performance.
You’ve segued into my next question about live streaming and the future of television. I don’t think the TV set is going to go away but the Networks are dying. Tell me what you think about, well, there’s network, there’s cable, there’s satellite and there’s the Internet. Where do you see the future of television going and how does live streaming fit into that and your idea of how you want to be a part of that future of TV?
I thought about this a long time ago. 10-15 years ago I was talking about live streaming of content. Heck, 20 years ago I was talking about it.
At that time I looked at what was happening in Europe and Asia…I remember my first cell phone was this big chunky thing and then within five years of having that, people were talking about how in Asia, you could go over to a vending machine, put your cell phone up to it and buy a soda from the machine using your cell phone. People were saying, “That’s crazy.” Well it’s not crazy. It’s what’s happening. We’re scanning an app at Starbucks and buying something. The Apple watch, you can hold it up to something and buy something.
Networks are already streaming. In the past, with Netflix you would rent DVDs and they’d send them to you in the mail. Now I’ve got Netflix on my TV and iPad for what, $9 per month, $10 per month? It’s on demand media content all the time anytime.
I remember watching the movie Wall-E. In the movie Earth had become inhabitable because Man basically destroyed it and the remaining people were living on a space ship until a suitable life sustaining planet was found to repopulate. The people who were living the on ship had, over the years, become gluttonous beings who were being pushed around in these mobile chairs. They don’t even walk. They just sit in the mobile lounge chairs and are hit with media all the time. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Everything you are doing or buying is just a push of a button from your chair. I think we need to be careful of where we are going with instant media and how we use it but there’s no question in my mind that television networks as we know it will become a thing of the past.
I was in South Korea two and a half ago and was traveling in a cab to Seoul. The driver had a navigation system that was half navigation and half live stream of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game. He was watching a live Los Angeles Dodgers game on his navigation while he is driving me through Seoul, Korea. That’s not necessarily safe but it tells you what’s happening. All the subways in Korea have full wifi. People are just watching television on their Samsung Galaxy. It’s already there. It’s just what the next logical step will be. But everybody’s streaming, everybody’s making web series, it’s something that Grant is doing as well. He’s all over social media, he’s streaming continually.
AKNU with James
Looking at streaming and making your show successful, what do think your biggest barriers will be to overcome to really becoming successful at live streaming? Because there are so many people doing it. How do you become the ‘Lucy’ from the 1950’s in the arena of live streaming?
Well, there are a couple of aspects. First, is the content. What are you doing that somebody else is not doing. If they’re doing it, how are they going to take over the market? This is something Grant Cardone talks about this all the time. “Dominating the market.” It’s not a bad thing. Look, if you’re a business person, you’re going to want to get in there and get the lion’s share of the customers. If your an actor, you want to be an A-list actor working on the projects that everyone else wants to do and see.
I had Grant on my old radio show. I talked to him about an actor I was speaking to who said “I just want to make a living, pay my bills and ‘get by’.” And Grant said something like, “C’mon man! That’s a load of BS! Your telling me that if a producer came to his door and said that they wanted him to star in a major film and handed him ten million dollars that he’d say ‘I’m sorry… I just want to get by and make a living.’ I doubt it.”
So, really, everybody wants to be successful. In terms of streaming how do you do that? You have to make a plan on how your going to dominate the market, because right now it’s saturated with content. What are you going to do that is different from the other guy? How are you going to expose yourself and get enough exposure for what your product is that will chip away at the other guy? People usually walk down the grocery store isles and get what they know. You have to get them to look at and want to buy your product.
I’m choosing an area that hasn’t really been done yet to a large degree. Technically, the problem with streaming is that if your going to use multiple locations, you have to make sure that there’s enough bandwidth of Internet to actually be able to stream. So that can become an issue, because when your on wifi and want to do an HD stream, it may not come out the best quality. You have to look at each of the places you’re going to be streaming from and find a high band width to connect to. That’s a major thing. Streaming at that high quality takes more. If your going to do Periscope and stream over 3G or 4G or LTE that’s one thing. But if you are streaming to a customer who is paying you x number of dollars then you’d better get your customer the best product available.
So those are the things that I’m looking at. It’s choosing the things that have not been done. It’s getting in and dominating the market with a great business plan and great marketing and great advertisement.
Nick Ferguson (#25) and Champ Bailey (#24)
Nick Ferguson with James
What is the one thing you would like to share with a budding entertainment entrepreneur that would be the one thing to do that would be senior to anything else
You should follow me on all my social media and sign up for my newsletters because I’m going to show you over the next few months how and what to do to accomplish those things..
Aside from that: do it. I would say start expanding. Let people know that you are there.
I wrote this in a blog the other day. It’s called: MONEY AND ART. Something I have learned is that you basically have to own who you are. If you don’t own who you are and your vision of yourself…then nobody will.
In the blog above I talked about my first couple of years in the entertainment business. When people asked me what I did for a living I would say, “ I’m an actor” and 99.9% of people would say, ”Oh, you mean you’re a waiter.” I would look at them and say, “No, I’m an actor. My profession is acting.” I owned that reality. See yourself as you want to be seen and others will see you that way as well. Own who you are.