Theory of Entertainment Value: Active Value – The subjective, qualitative metric of Entertainment Value

In the last blog, I presented the idea of Active Value. I thought of calling it active value because an entertainer can actively control the outcome of these variables through their own hard work to improve them. It is the cause to the effect (I call the effect Passive Value).

Cause (Active value, hard work put in) ====> Effect (Passive Value, monetary result of hard work)

I admit, it’s not rocket science, or even a startlingly new revelation, anyone who’s in the scene would know this, but I’m defining it for the sake of the Entertainment Value theory.

To start defining Active Value for an entertainer, it would be best to consider the type of entertainment first (music, comedy, dance, TV, movies etc), and then determine which areas are most valuable to the customer to be entertained (the best way to do this is ask the customers). This will begin the process to quantitatively define development for the entertainer looking to improve their craft.

Also to be fair, if you really want to see improvement, I’m going to be as blunt as I can be about this, you’re going to have to prepare to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone, and you’ll have to be prepared to go far above and beyond typical expectations, because the end goal is exceptionalism in creating an emotional connection with the entertainment consumer. To be exceptional, you have to be prepared to put in more work than anyone else, as often as you can.

Take professional sports as an example. They are entertainers, and they are exceptional at what they do at the pro level. NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and so on, are the best of the best, without question. They are putting in 12 hour days over and over to maintain their exceltionalism, and do it without question. What is the likeliness of getting accepted into this level of exceptionalism? According to a study done by the NCAA, in most cases, it’s around 1-2% of all college athletes, with the exceptions being mens ice hockey and baseball. Is being any other kind of entertainer any different? As best I can tell no, it is not. So I started looking at what the best do to hone their craft, and professional athletic organizations try to add metrics to as many factors of their craft as they can, and there are full blown companies built around collecting this data.  They’re tracking items such as the following:

  • Measures total distance
  • Measures speed
  • Measures acceleration & deceleration
  • Measures metabolic load distance
  • Monitors heart rate
  • Reports collisions
  • Reports fatigue index
  • Measures step balance (left & right)
  • Measures dynamic stress load

Why are they doing this? Because once they have these, much like going to the gym and recording how many sets, reps and at what weight, it provides data on where they can push an athlete to improve.

Now, figuring out how to adapt this methodology to Active Value, I believe this same approach can be used improve the artistic performance of an entertainer. In the entertainment sector, professional sports is probably the easiest to provide metrics for improvement, because of it’s competitive, data generating nature, when compared to artistic entertainment. Of course, the metrics in the artistic realm would be different, as an artist would have no need for a total speed measurement (or would they? I don’t know yet), or metabolic load distance… but when considering what each entertainer has to provide, what would be valuable metrics? Emotion is the currency of an entertainer, so any metrics to help create an emotional response, would populate that list. Previously I introduced the idea of three entertainment groups, Entertainment Individuals, Entertainment Groups, and Entertainment Curators. These metrics would most easily apply to Entertainment Individuals, followed by Entertainment Groups as the next easiest, and then Entertainment Curators as the most difficult to apply this to, but not impossible.

With an artistic entertainer though, many of these metrics will be qualitative, and not quantitative, as it’s not anything you can put numbers or points to. Value is quality, and quality is nebulous, so for each case, the metrics will have to be uniquely defined, and the method of evaluating those metrics, also uniquely defined.

Something that entertainment consumers say they look for in a performer is confidence, but how do you measure that? In some cases, it might be as simple as eye contact with the crowd.

In the case of providing a metric for this, I would propose this method.


  1. Record performer doing show with a video camera, a practice show for starters to get a feel
  2. Have the entertainer perform their trade in front of either a single person, the camera itself, or a small crowd.
  3. Review the video after the performance is done, and record the number of times the eye contact is made with whoever is in front of the performer. (Again the goal is to portray confidence and make a connection as defined by the performer or their management or whoever, so this is now their metric.)
  4. If you wanted even more detail, grab a stopwatch and record the amount of time eye contact is made, vs not.
  5. The entertainer will need to set a goal, that is appropriate for their craft, of how much eye contact should be made during a set, to effectively portray confidence to the consumer.

Now here’s the tricky part, WHAT is that number? What are you looking for? This is where it becomes completely up to the entertainer, and for each metric, this will need to be determined. There are two ways I know of to get this information, the first is for the entertainer to set the standard themselves, the second, and far more effective method, is to ask anyone that has seen the performance how they felt about it and poll it. You should know what’s most valuable to improve, and the best way to know, is to ask.

This is one of the hardest parts for a performer, because they’ll have to find people who won’t bullshit them, and give them hard feedback. Feedback that isn’t hard, isn’t helpful. Think again of professional sports, those guys get their butts handed to them on a regular basis, but they also represent the top tier of their profession. You, as an entertainer, have to think of yourself the same way if you want to be the top. Make no excuses, and listen to hard feedback. If you have friends giving you feedback that just enables your poor showmanship, and doesn’t help you increase your value, then find someone who will. In most cases you’ll likely need someone you have to pay, such as a performance coach, to help you out with this unless you have some kick ass friends who aren’t afraid to bruise your ego for the sake of the greater good

All in all  it ends up being a lot of work to improve the Active Value, and I’ve given an example only for a single metric, when a performer may be trying to improve many at one time.

In summary:

  1. Record video your performance, and review, every time
  2. Get hard feedback on what could be improved from people you trust, no sissy enabling crap
    • Remember, emotion is the currency of an entertainer, find a way to make someone feel something
    • One of the best ways to transmit an emotion is through moments, as discussed by Tom Jackson in his Live Music Method book (this applies to more than just music)
  3. Find a way to quantify that feedback, and create a measurable metric
  4. Repeat until the feedback is improvement is clear
    • clear improvement can be done by reviewing the first video you’ve ever created, and then comparing it to wherever you’re at today. Because this stuff is mostly subjective, in a lot of cases this should be as simple as watching and saying “Yes, this has clearly improved”
    • I really hate to be nebulous on that, but sometimes putting numbers to something like “captivate the crowd” is extremely difficult, but with enough breakdown, it can be done

The best part is, if you’re doing it right, you will see your passive value increase. That is a clear indicator that you have been improving your Active Value. People will be more willing to give their hard earned cash for something that they genuinely enjoy.

Any and all feedback is welcome, especially constructive criticisms, lets hear it!

8 thoughts on “Theory of Entertainment Value: Active Value – The subjective, qualitative metric of Entertainment Value

  1. Really interesting theory – I would think that the quantitative values would change based on genre and audience, literally, from one show to another. Every audience is different. And I wonder if the same principles could be applied to the audience itself? Could be a useful way to differentiate venues based on their scene.


  2. First, I have to take exception to this quote: “To be exceptional, you have to be prepared to put in more work than anyone else, as often as you can.”

    I’m going to make a broad, unfounded statement here and say that History is full of people that “put in more work than anyone else” and still failed. Working hard at the wrong things leads to failure. So, I think we need to define work as “the right things to achieve your goal”. But, that still doesn’t satisfy me because it says I need to do MORE work than anyone else, which isn’t good either. Spending 1 hour on “the right things” is way more valuable than spending 10 hours on the wrong things. People do this all the time when they start a new venture. “I have to be on social media” they say, and then they spend hours setting up accounts everywhere and posting stuff that may or may not be valuable to their audience. Then they get burnt out, either because it’s too much for them to manage or because they aren’t seeing any engagement from their audience. And they fail. Contrast this to someone who focuses exclusively on Facebook and puts their time and energy into creating more valuable content. I think that focused hard work is far more important than unqualified hard work.

    Furthermore, by saying you have to do more than others implies that there is some kind of hierarchy of success, with the hardest workers at the top. Instead, I think you would find the smartest workers at the top, but rather than competing, they would be collaborating. It’s all about adding value, and you need a growth mindset to do this. With the scarcity/competition mindset, you’re giving up the value of your network. You’re saying “I’m the hardest worker, so I alone will come out on top regardless of what others do”. For this reason, I intentionally give out information to competitors who serve the same audience. My goal is not to come out ahead of the competition, but to provide value to my audience, and if someone else can do that, I am happy to help (and take the credit for introducing them, of course).

    You’re spot on about adding value and getting into the heads of your audience though. Just because you think something is valuable to your audience doesn’t mean that they actually find it valuable. The only way to find out what they actually believe is to talk to them and have authentic conversations. People say things they don’t actually believe; Here’s a scenario from an actual client:

    Client puts on multiple events for their audience
    Client posts all of the events in the same place
    Audience says “I never heard about the events!”
    Client posts all of the events in the same place and changes the font, colors, posts it in other places, etc.
    Audience says “I never heard about the events!”

    How did we break the cycle? We spoke with the audience in more depth and found out that in fact they had seen the events posted, but there were so many events that the audience was feeling overwhelmed. So the solution was actually to post fewer events- the exact opposite of what they had been logically doing! People aren’t rational by default.

    You’ll know it’s going well when they give you an actual emotion like “overwhelmed” and not an excuse like “I never heard about it” or “I don’t have time”. To me, value means building a relationship based on a personal connection achieved through emotional appeal. If your content truly speaks to someone, and touches their emotions, they will find it valuable. This is so hard to identify when talking to audiences because it requires vulnerability, and that’s terrifying to most people.

    For example, I found your blog valuable. Why? Here’s the standard, non-vulnerable answer (which isn’t helpful to you): I really like the insights about adding value. I think it will help me in my career both as a marketing consultant and a musician.

    Here’s the vulnerable answer: I find it really hard to connect with people. Either they don’t get the concepts I talk about, or they’re only interested in talking about “people and events” rather than “ideas” (see: inspirational quotes). So to hear you talk about things like reading 30-some books in a year, soliciting real and truthful feedback, and adding value to peoples’ lives really resonates with me. I’m also thinking about my music career, or lack thereof, and how to add value to my audience as a musician, which is something I’ve been struggling with lately. I’m afraid I’ll fail to capture the life I’ve always dreamed about, which is to make a decent living playing music. This blog gives me hope.

    See the difference? One is all about features and benefits (it’s insightful, it seems helpful, etc.). The other is all about emotions (loneliness, frustration, fear, hope). It’s the difference between “I like this song” and “I need to stop what I’m doing whenever I hear this song because it means so much to me” (Seinfeld?).

    Good talk, I look forward to hearing your response and we share the same value of open and constructive feedback, so don’t hold back.


    • Corey, your insight is spot on here.

      When I say you have to do more work than anyone else, I guess I take it for granted that it’s focused, appropriate work. To me, that goes with out saying, which I could further clarify. In fact…. I think you’ve motivated me to write about specifically that topic. I think focus, and appropriate actions are key to advancing to the next lilypad in the quest for the greater goals.

      Interestingly enough though, I wouldn’t entirely discourage work that may seem to have nothing to do with what you’re focused on. I’ve found (in so many cases) that by doing something that seems to be (at the time) completely unrelated, there’s always something to take away from it to apply to a more related goal.

      As long as you’re doing work and always thinking about how it could apply to the long term goal, then almost nothing is useless. And in some cases it’s taken years for these things to come back around. I think there are obvious, big ticket items that should be pursued, but I still do things that might seem unrelated, because I’ve come to accept that there’s infinitely more things that I’ll never know or understand, so why shoot down otherwise useless opportunities? I’ve made some solid connections, networking opportunities, or benefits through ways that I never would have imagined in the past. We could meet up sometime and talk about this if you want, it’s always fun!

      I really appreciate your breakdown of the features/benefits vs emotions of the value you found. Also if you ever want to brainstorm on how to connect with people, I’m down! It’s one of the most challenging things I think about day to day as a musician, and entertainer in general.

      Also, I wrote this post after reading The 10X Rule, which is a pretty crazy book, but I really enjoyed the message in the end. I highly recommend it, in context of this discussion.



  3. Pingback: Theory of Entertainment Value: Passive Value – Show Me The Money! | Victus

  4. Excellent point. I just read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. The book is about cleaning essentially, and removing clutter from your house. But I read into it a little deeper and found that the pursuit of a better life and the idea of only allowing those things in your life that bring you joy (read: value) were really relevant in a business context as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Corey, that’s a great point. I think at the end of the day, it boils down to the KISS mentality, Keep It Simple Stupid. The simpler things are, the easier/more you can do it.

      A book you might enjoy along those same lines might be I Will Teach You To Be Rich. This book for me was amazing because while it goes over many awesome principles of personal finance, a HUGE lesson and new thought I took away from it was to try to avoid spending money on things you don’t use/like/care about, but spend lavishly on those things that bring you joy. This de-cluttering of my money, also helped me keep the rest of my life simple. This is a bit of a digression but it was the strongest thing that came to mind while reading your comment


  5. Pingback: Introduction to The Theory of Entertainment Value | Victus

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