The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

YouSendIt September 30, 2009

Filed under: Tools,Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:17 am
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Today, in my second of a week’s worth of technical tools and websites that make my life easier, I’m introducing you to YouSendIt.

In my line of work, I sometimes have to send or recieve really big files: photos for newspapers that are 300 dpi and videos are the two main main ones. These files are too big to send via email (which, for my email program, is pretty much anything over 10 MB). In the past, I would have had to have the person burn the file to a disc, and then meet up with them to do a physical exchange.

YouSendIt (http://www.yousendit.com) is the alternative. It is an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. Essentially, you upload your file to a secure server. YouSendIt then sends me an email with a link to download the file, which I do.

YouSendIt offers a free, “lite” version, where you are able to send/receive files up to 100 MB. If you are a videographer, photographer or graphic designer, you may want to upgrade to the paid versions, but for my needs, the free version works just fine.

YouSendIt also offers plugins for programs like Final Cut, Photoshop and Corel Draw, so you can directly upload your files from those programs.

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SugarSync September 29, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:12 pm
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When I wrote yesterday’s post on Dropbox, I was already aware of SugarSync (http://www.sugarsync.com), another online file storage application.
I had done some research on the two applications, to see which one was better, and it seemed that actually, SugarSync was the better of the two. They already have widgets for mobile phones (BB and IPhone), whereas DropBox releases an IPhone widget today (thanks, @cecilialu!). For more information, check out this comparison of the two by ReviewSaurus.

However, the focus of this week’s blog posts are websites or technology that can make your life easier, and are free, and my impression of SugarSync was that there was a 30-day free trial, and then they had plans that started at around $5/month, if you liked the service. So, I didn’t include it, and told you about Dropbox instead.

Turns out SugarSync also has a free, 2GB “lite” version. That information is simply not well publicised on the site. Accidentally or on purpose… who knows.

To access the free 2 GB of storage, go to the pricing page, and scroll down to the lower right-hand corner.

sugarsync

Special thanks to @dloehr for putting me on the right path with that one!

I’d love to hear your comments. Are you already using one of the platforms? How do you like it? What do you use it for?

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Dropbox September 28, 2009

Filed under: Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:38 am
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This week, I am going to share with you some technical tools or websites that might make running your business easier.

I’m in the middle of what is looking like my busiest fall so far, so anything that can make by business faster/easier/more efficient is pretty high on my “loving it” list.

First up: Dropbox (http://www.getdropbox.com)

My life was made a lot easier in January when I finally bought a smart phone. Now, I don’t need to cart my laptop around with me all the time, constantly in search of a wi-fi connection. I get and can respond to, email on my Blackberry. I need to add that part of the reason I chose the Blackberry over the IPhone was because the BB has the ability to read and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. However, I don’t really use the calendar syncing utility, because my calendar lives on Google, and I have access to it all the time via the web with NO syncing. So, I very seldom hook my BB up to my computer, and the storage is somewhat limited, so I don’t really carry around documents on it.

Sometimes, I’ll be out somewhere and get a request from a member of the media for some kind of support documentation: a media release or kit for one of my clients. I have to say “I’ll send it to you as soon as I get back to my computer.” But not any more!!

Dropbox is a file-sharing program. Essentially, after you download the program and install it on your computer, you just drop files from your computer that you want to have access to at all times. The program uploads these files to a server on the web. Every time you update a file, it automatically syncs it to the web. Then, wherever you are, you have access to your files. All you need is a browser, and to log into your account using your email address and password. You have access to all your files.

You can also ask others to join Dropbox, and they can have access to your files, creating another way for multiple people to work on the same project.

Dropbox offers free storage up to 2GB for free. If you need more storage, you can opt for a monthly-fee package.

They don’t offer a Blackberry app, which would make my life even easier. You have to use your browser application to access your files. Perhaps an app is in the works.

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Social Nettiquette September 25, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,Marketing with Facebook,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:34 am
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Last week, I did a guest post on The Art Biz Blog. Alyson Stanfield has a very successful blog that, like mine, focuses on the business of being an artist, although hers is more geared towards visual artists, while my specialty is theatre. You can read my guest post here.

As a result of doing this guest post, my blog was introduced to a new group of people who hadn’t heard of me before. Those people visited my website or my about page, and a bunch of them followed me on Twitter, or asked to friend me on Facebook.

I think.

I’m not entirely sure, because I find myself in a situation that requires a new-age Miss Manners. You see, since last week, I’ve gotten a bunch of friend requests from people that I don’t know, and have no friends in common with. I have no problem being friends with people who found me through my blog, but I have a strict policy about not being friends with strangers. Even if I’ve never met the person, I need to know who they are before I allow them to be my friend. This is just due to the personal nature of Facebook; I use it for dual purposes. I have pictures of Michael on there that are meant for his grandma, but I also do a lot of business.

So, here’s my suggestion: when asking someone to be your friend on Facebook, take a minute and write that person a little note saying how you know them, even if it is a virtual connection. My feeling is, your friend request will be accepted a lot faster.

Picture 1

Another solution to this problem would be for me to start a fan page for my blog. That would clearly separate the business from the person.

Does anyone know if Miss Manners is hiring?

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A sticky situation September 23, 2009

Filed under: Ethics,Local Shows — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:06 am

Five months ago, I got a phone call from Mark Carter, Artistic Director of Down Stage Right Productions. I’d previously done publicity for his production of Bullshot Crummond last year. Mark had just gotten the rights to a new show that he was very excited to be producing: Evil Dead: The Musical.

Evil Dead_12

Scott Walters is Ash, with a chainsaw where his hand is supposed to be.

Now, I’m not much of a horror fan, so it didn’t really mean much to me, but he told me that it was very much in the style of The Rocky Horror Show, which I love, so I thought it would probably be good. I read the script and loved it. It is a really fun, irreverant, and campy. And people were excited about it, even though we had done zero advertising or press. It appeared to have the same kind of cult following as Rocky did.

And then we found out that Samuel French had granted the rights to the show to another theatre company, running almost exactly the same dates. We were shocked: how could this possibly happen? Turns out, Mark was granted the amateur rights, and the other company was allowed to have the professional rights. So, now there is going to be two productions of Evil Dead: The Musical running in Vancouver this Hallowe’en.

The problem is, the production that I am working on has a much smaller budget. My fee is about 80% of their marketing budget. The other guys have already placed a $4500 full-page ad in the Georgia Straight. I don’t need to tell you, we can’t compete with that. It’s like David and Goliath, in terms of budgets.

What to do? We very likely could be crushed. And this is a production that is fully funded out-of-pocket, with no government funding.

Were we mad? Hell, yeah. Frustrated? For sure. How could something like this happen? This is serious business–we could be bankrupted. Should we cancel? Change our dates? But we had already signed contracts and made expensive deposits for the theatre and the rights, so no matter what, we were going to loose money.

At the end of the day, we decided just to carry on. It’s our hope that Vancouver is a big enough town to be able to manage two productions of Evil Dead: The Musical.

Here’s what Mark has to say about the whole thing:

Dear Friends and supporters of DSR Productions,

By now most people are aware that there are two productions of Evil Dead The Musical playing in Vancouver this October.

As the director and producer of one of those productions, I would encourage people to see both productions, as I am sure they will see two very unique shows.

I would like to take a few minutes to tell you about some of the differences our production has to offer.

Firstly, we have an amazing cast of local professional actors who have been seen recently Vancouver productions of Les Miserables, Songs for a New World and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Scott Walters, who plays Ash, just finished a two-year run of We Will Rock You in Toronto and Meghan Gardiner (Annie/Shelly) has been touring internationally in her one-woman show Dissolve. Many of this cast will be going on to the highly anticipated local productions of Bat Boy the Musical, (also at the Norman Rothstein Theatre) as well as Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Gateway Theatre.

We are fortunate to have international choreographer Ken Overbey with us as well as musical director Sylvia Zaradic leading a LIVE BAND only in this Vancouver Production!

Our Designers and production team are all local professionals. Many of them work primarily with The Arts Club Theatre. In addition, other-behind- the-scenes people include Tanja Dixon-Warren from Vancouver’s longest running show Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, and Rebecca Coleman a publicist who works with numerous local theatre companies.

The Norman Rothstein housed sold out performances of our 2000 production of The Rocky Horror Show, so we are thrilled to return to such a beautiful intimate theatre that totally ROCKS at HALLOWEEN! Enjoy a beer or glass of wine at our concession before the show or at intermission.

Above all, Evil Dead the Musical is one of the most enjoyable experiences you will have at the Theatre at Halloween: take advantage of it! As audience members you have the luxury of seeing two different versions of the same hit musical! One locally grown, the other imported.

Please show your support for local Talent  – and help keep the Arts Alive in Vancouver.

Mark Carter
Artistic Director
DSR Productions

Read the story in today’s Courier by Cheryl Rossi.

I’d love to hear what you think about this situation. Have you ever heard of something like this happening before? How did it turn out? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

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One more social media video September 21, 2009

Filed under: Marketing with YouTube,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:57 am
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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been finding and sharing with you videos that talk about the power of social networking.
Here is the latest of them. Created by Xplanevisualthinking for the upcoming Media Conference Forum in October in NYC.

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A tale of two cities September 18, 2009

Filed under: Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:23 am
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I did a lot of traveling in July and August, and I had two very opposite experiences that really affected me, and so I wanted to write about them.

In July, I had to go to Victoria to attend the opening of Itsazoo’s The Canterbury Tales. I’ve been to Victoria quite a few times before, but never to Mt. Douglas Park where the show was. Because it was an outdoor show, it started at 7 to take advantage of the light, so we didn’t have dinner before the show, thinking we’d grab a late one, after. By the time we chatted with the cast, then drove back to our downtown hotel, it was going on 9:30. We wandered around downtown Victoria looking for a place to eat, but everything was closed. The only options were fast food chains. Finally, after a lot of searching, we  happily found a pub, The Bard and Banker,where we had great burgers, Strongbows, all while enjoying live music.

Flash forward one week. We’re now in Hora, the main town of the island of Naxos in Greece. It’s our first night there, and

Grilled Octopus in Naxos

Grilled Octopus in Naxos

we go and find a taverna by the water around 7 and order grilled octopus and tuna. The place is basically empty, except for maybe two or three other customers. Later, after the sun set, that same taverna was full to capacity, and the streets were crowded with locals and holiday-makers going out for dinner.

Victoria, named after the British queen known for being extremely conservative, is often referred to as having a population of “the newly wed and nearly dead.” There is, indeed, a high percentage of retired ex-pat Brits, there, so my feeling is, there is no market for restaurants to be open past 8 pm. It’s part of the culture there.

In Greece, however, where the hottest part of the day is late afternoon, everyone goes indoors to rest, and gets up later, when the sun is setting, and the weather cools down, to go out for dinner. Again, it’s part of the culture.

It got me to thinking about looking at our market. Do you really know your market as well as you think you do? If I were opening a restaurant in Victoria, I would probably assume off the top that I could close early in the evening. However, by staying open later, I might find that I tap into a hidden market. I encourage you to talk to your clients, to survey them if possible, and find out what it is that they really want, if you can serve their needs better. I’m not saying that you should accommodate every single thing, because you also need a rest and a life, but you never know what new information you might learn by listening to what they have to say.

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