On April 8, Dance/NYC announced the launch of their new site, now being beta tested by the community. It’s a good looking, easy to navigate new site with many of the features you might expect from a social network for dance in New York City. While it has some basic flaws, too, those kinks are being worked out.
Last week, on facebook, I received an invitation to sign up for Home 4 Dance, a new online network for dance; I’m currently waiting for approval. These sites are being added to an already vast array of dance media communities, and one has to ask:
How much is too much?
Who’s going to manage all of this content?
It’s safe to assume that most dance artists looking to increase audience engagement, whether vertically or horizontally, are using some form of social media—YouTube or Vimeo and Facebook.
Vimeo is particularly good if you’re worried about copyright infringement. You should always request music rights, but Facebook and YouTube are corporatized to the maximum effect, and will take your sh*t down before you can count 5-6-7-8. Vimeo is more trusting of its community, and once you post it here, you can link it anywhere.
[It’s probably a good idea, too, to have some kind of HTML email service, like MadMimi, which is free for the first 100 names.]
But these are saturated markets and audiences we’re reaching out to if we limit our networking to these mainstream outlets. (See FF below) Strategy needs to be a part of the marketing effort.
To market the work of the dance company I work with, I post videos and events on iDanz, Danceplug, Dancemedia, and Voice of Dance. While these are not necessarily audiences that would be familiar with the work or even be interested in buying tickets to an event, the tags and views (and votes) amount to free advertising. The costs are associated with picking the right content and the time it takes to format your materials, post them, and monitor their effectiveness according to your own set of established criteria. Views don’t always translate into ticket sales, but awareness has a value in bringing those transactions closer.
Too often is too much. The problem with using ONLY the good ‘book is that unless you’re really performative about it and also participatory, people will get tired of receiving the same message over and over. Repetition is good, but you have to provide value over the duration of the marketing campaign, some evolution in the experience. Not many people have time (or staff) for that. Interns can post, but not strategize.
We’re choreographers, not designers dammit
In the mid-to-late 1990’s, when funders and panels gave dance artists feedback about the (poor) quality of their work samples, artists would complain that they were not video makers. Now that everyone is a video maker (or Tuber of some sort) with the tools and literacy to make a good video, there are even more skills to learn, and higher expectations. Dance film programs are propagating. HD quality professional dance is available on hulu and TenduTV. People are watching dance online—livestreaming, and also recorded. This is not a fad, but a trend whose time has arrived. Dance is already a strong category in media—think SYTYCD, DWTS, and ABDC, not Great Performances; think Movement Magazine, not the LA Times.
Who can help with this?
Branding comes first, and services for this are in short supply. Elizabeth Barry of Gendance is the local mover on this issue. Of course, I’m always trying to figure out ways to share this information for free… But individual process and strategy take time and effort.
There are several folks providing video editing services, like Reels4Artists, who also created promotional reels. These short videos can be very useful in reaching general audiences, and are great for promoting the work on websites of venues that are out of town.
Others of note providing services related to dance media are Jaki Levy at Arrowroot Media, who designed this award-winning site for Yanira Castro; and Sydney Skybetter and company at Design Brooklyn, who are working on the Dance/NYC site, among other notable clients. Pentacle’s Movement Media project has also begun offering workshops and services related to dance media.