The Art of the Business

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

New Social Media Workshop Dates March 17, 2010

Simon and I are back by popular demand (I’ve always wanted to say that)!

Rebecca Coleman and Simon Ogden are pleased to present their
immensely popular workshop:

Demystifying Social Media

Welcome To The New Marketing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   (Part 1)

Marketing our work has changed. We can no longer rely upon
purchasing advertising or looking for editorial coverage in traditional
forms of media like newspapers, radio, or TV. Using social media to
reach our audiences is becoming more and more important. But when
it comes to reaching your audience through social media, you can’t
use traditional methods of marketing. The game is entirely changed.

This workshop will cover the basics of social media marketing, how it
differs from traditional forms of marketing, how to join a social media
network, and the etiquette of the community.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.    (Part 2)

Building on the morning’s session, the session will move from theory to practice
and share clear, concrete methods and tips for creating your marketing plan
using Facebook, E-mail newsletters, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube and Flickr.

“The facilitators were really keen to help us understand and offered good examples.”

“High energy, awesome visuals. It was exactly what I needed”

Facilitators:

Simon Ogden is a produced playwright and the managing director of Lyric Stage Project (LSP), an outgrowth of Lyric School of Acting. He is also thenmarketer and publicist for LSP, and actively promotes the industry of theatre
through his online theatre magazine The Next Stage.

Rebecca Coleman has been a freelance theatre publicist since 2001. An actor, writer and producer, since 2007, she has become increasingly interested in using social media to market the arts, and writes about the subject frequently on her blog, The Art of the Business. She is the author of The Guide to Getting Started With Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations, which will be available for purchase for $19.95 at the workshop.

Cost: $50 (+GST) for Alliance members, $75 (+GST) for non-members

Registration: Advance registration and pre-payment are required for all Alliance workshops. We accept cash, VISA, MC, or cheque. Call our office at 604.681.3535 with a credit card number or drop by our office to register and make payment in person.

http://www.allianceforarts.com/workshops

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How to share your TV footage with the world March 15, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Marketing with YouTube — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:07 am
Tags: ,

Quite often in my work, I get my clients on TV. We have a local cable channel here in Vancouver, Shaw, that has three separate shows, and I often get my clients on those. They’re great, because they reach a wide audience, and repeat heavily. But if you have the right equipment and programs, you can upload that TV footage (that features YOU!) to the web, and share it via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and your blog, extending its reach beyond geographical constraints.

Today, I’m using Biz Books as an example. During Oscar madness a couple of weeks ago, Biz got on TV twice. Here are the steps I used to get their video from TV to YouTube.

1. You need to have a DVD-recorder and recordable DVDs. I got mine refurbished for around $40, so you don’t have to spend a bundle on this. Record the TV show as you normally would. You can, if you’re not going to be home, set the timer, etc, but the closer you are able to start recording to when the story comes on, the easier your job will be.

2. Convert the DVD-file to a file that you can edit on your computer. I use Handbrake. Free, available for Mac, Windows, and even Linux.

  1. Insert the DVD into your drive, and boot up Handbrake. Your computer will likely default to the DVD player when you insert the DVD, so escape that.
  2. In Handbrake, click on “Source.”
  3. This next bit is always a bit of a guessing game, because you’ll be presented with a bunch of file names that mean absolutely nothing. It’s a safe bet to always pick the biggest file, chances are, that’s going to be what you’re looking for. Select it and click “open.”
  4. After it loads that up, you can choose the chapter you wish to convert–again, it’s a bit of guess work, but you can go by the amount of time you were recording for as a guideline.
  5. Because I’m on a Mac, I select the “Apple/universal” preset, and ask it to save the file as an M4V. This means I’ll be able to edit it in IMovie. If you are on a PC, you may need to play around with different formats, although AVI should work for Windows Movie Maker.
  6. Hit the “Start” button. This is going to take some time, depending on how long your video was.

3. After Handbrake is done converting, you now need to edit it to get rid of any footage that took place before or after your clip. I use IMovie for this. I will also usually add a title at the end that states the name of the program and the original air date. Save your project, and then export it. I like to use Quicktime.

4. Upload your movie to your YouTube channel.

5. Share the video on your blog, website, Facebook, Email, Twitter.

And here is the final result:

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Free Beginner’s Guide to Twitter March 12, 2010

I was watching the news this morning, and caught two interesting pieces. First, there was the story about this gal, Sarah Killen, whom Conan O’Brian chose at random to be the one person he follows. Overnight, this 19-year-old from Michigan has become famous. She started with 3 followers,  now has more than 24,000, and has been donated a brand-new mac for her to twitter on, and someone is making her a wedding dress, because her and her fiance are going through a bit of a tough time.

This was followed by a banter segment between the hosts, one of which was a regular twitterer, the other of which was clearly not. Perhaps the second host could benefit from Dave Charest’s new free Twitter Guide.

Dave is a guy like me, only he’s a guy and he lives in the states. We have kids the same age, we both have been actors, and we are both interested in helping artists to become better business people.

Dave comes from a copywriting background, so he’s pretty serious about making things as dead simple and easy to understand as possible. And this guide does exaclty that. It breaks things down into managable chunks, and  there’s lots of white space and screenshots, so it’s easy to read. Even though it is a guide for beginners,  it goes beyond the basics into things like how to set up a twitter search to monitor your brand.

Oh, and it’s free. Hello!

If you’re already on Twitter, and have gotten the hang of it, Dave is working on something for you a bit down the road. But if you are still trying to figure out the whole crazy ‘Twitter Cocktail Party,’ then this guide will help you along.

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The power of just showing up March 10, 2010

Filed under: Attitude,Blogging,Future planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:07 am
Tags: ,

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a past career, I was an employment counsellor. I would meet with people who were unemployed and looking for work, and help them to spruce up their resume, apply for jobs, or refer them to programs that could help them find work.

I remember one client particularly. She was in the film industry, so we saw her every few months. She had a computer and internet connection at home, so there was really no reason for her to come in and use our resource centre. But yet, like clockwork, every few months, she’d show up at our door, and be looking for work.

Many years ago, I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Now, Frankl was a Jewish psychologist in pre-Nazi Austria, Vienna to be exact. In 1942, he, like many other Jews, was sent to a concentration camp, along with his wife and parents. By all reports, I can’t imagine a more horrifying or black place to be. And yet, he talks in his book about getting up every morning and shaving himself with a piece of glass. This symbolic gesture of getting ready for the day was psychological preparation, and it worked. Frankl survived the concentration camp–the rest of his family did not.

I know that looking for a job or writing a blog is not nearly the same kind of life-or-death stakes that Frankl faced every day in that camp. But the principle remains the same: the people that got up every day, put on some decent clothes, and showed up at my work every day at 9:30 had a much higher chance of getting a job than those that rolled in at 1 pm in crumpled jeans after sleeping in until noon.

Writing a blog works on the same principle: if you commit to a schedule and stick to it, I promise you will see results. Will every post you write be a gold-medal winner (sorry, the Olympics are kinda dominating things in Vancouver, right now!)? Nope, certainly not. But by writing sheer quantity, you are bound to create some posts of quality. And the more you do it, the better you get…

This image was originally posted to Flickr by chokola at http://flickr.com/photos/22671579@N00/1229450683

And then, sometime around the three-week mark, something magical happens. It stops being more of a chore, and just becomes another thing that you do in your day. It incorporates itself into your life.

So grab yourself a calendar, decide how many posts you want to do per week, and then schedule them on your calendar. Go so far as to write what the topic of each of those posts will be. Set an alarm if you need to. Then write.

Just showing up will give you results–I guarantee it.

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Your perception of value March 8, 2010

Money.

It’s been a trending topic in my own personal blogosphere, lately.

First there was John McLauglan talking about Firing some of his Customers.

Then Nancy Kenny asked me for some advice about valuing her new service, and wrote about that experience in a post called The Value of Me

That post lead Michael Di Lauro to riff on The Perception of Free.

The second blog post I ever wrote was called Putting a Value on Your Work. In it, I talked about the fallacy of “The Starving Artist,” and how, just because we are lucky enough as artists to have found a career that we love, it’s not okay for us to work for free. Here’s an excerpt: (I feel weird excerpting myself, but at least I don’t have to worry about copyright!)

See, there’s this perception out there in the world (and we as artists are guilty of it too), that because we get intrinsic value from our work, that we don’t need to be compensated financially. In an ideal world, we would all make a living from our artistic practice. Some of you out there already are (and you make me very happy and proud and give me a great deal of hope, so thank you). But for the rest of us, where does it end?

Beginning to value your work also means beginning to say ‘no’. And I don’t know about you, but I find that scary. Scary because, if I say no to someone, am I cutting off all future ties? Will I lose paying business down the road if I don’t give them a freebie the first time? Maybe. I can’t answer those questions for you. But what I have experienced is this: often unpaid work leads to more of the same. Conversely, paid work often leads to more of the same.

I’ll be honest with you: I sometimes turn down contracts, because they can’t afford to pay what I perceive as being enough. I have some bottom-line pricing–while I have a standard rate I charge for my work, I am willing to negotiate, but not below a certain number. When I first started this crazy business two years ago, I basically took any contract that was offered to me, but no more. It isn’t enough any more for me to just be working. I have to be working and making a living, or even a living plus a little bit more….

What changed over the past two years? I have gotten better at my job, my media contacts are stronger than ever, and I have systems in place that make it easier for me to run my business. I’ve had a fair amount of success at getting my clients media coverage. Generally speaking, it all comes down to confidence.

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about setting a rate when you are just starting out. My Putting a Value on Your Work blog post talks about ways that you can come up with that number, and having that information can help you to educate your client about why you charge that particular amount. Ultimately, you have the power to negotiate, and you alone know what your bottom-line number is. My philosophy is, go into any negotiation with three numbers in mind: your top price, your bottom line, and what you would be happy with (which is somewhere in between). Go in with confidence (even if you don’t really have it, fake it), and pitch a price that is in the higher range. And then take it from there…

Because if you don’t value the work that you do, then who will?

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How the Olympics affected my business March 5, 2010

Filed under: Cash flow,Life,Musings — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:42 am
Tags: , , ,

I originally wrote this post last Sunday, February 28, in the morning. That afternoon, I watched Canada’s hockey team win the Gold medal at the Olympics in a nail-biting match against the Americans. Seconds after the game ended, I headed downtown to check out what was going on.

Something magical happened that afternoon. Granville and Robson streets were a river of red and white, cheering, hooting, celebrating fans. It was the last day of the Olympics, and Canada had won more Gold Medals than any other host nation in the history of the Olympics. That, topped with the Gold in Hockey, well, our national pride erupted in a way that I have never experienced.

It was absolutely amazing to be part of that energy. I must have high-fived about a thousand total strangers–we were bound together simply by our shared national pride.


That was Sunday, and I had scheduled this post for Monday. Needless to say, I didn’t post it. But here it is, only lightly edited since I originally wrote it.

the scene at Robson and Howe

July 2, 2003, was a red-letter day in my city. Vancouver was, on that day, awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics.

As I write this, I am getting ready to go watch the final gold-medal hockey game between Canada and the US (go, Canada!). Today is the final day of the Olympics, and what a long road it’s been.

I remember being very for the Olympics when we were in the running to host them. I voted yes in the referendum. I believed that the Olympics would be good for my city: it would bring big business and lots of traffic in the form of visitors. I was also aware of the Cultural Olympiad: a year-long celebration of the arts that is part of every Olympics.

In the ensuing years, and especially over the last year, my enthusiasm for the Olympics has waned. Cost overrun after cost overrun has thrown our province into a state of serious debt. Housing prices rose to a point where it was impossible for me to ever dream about owning a house. And then came a recession–something which no one could have predicted seven years ago–which has lead to serious cuts to the arts sector.

I got two Cultural Olympiad contracts: one already took place in January, The Edward Curtis Project at Presentation House, and the other takes place next month at the Roundhouse: Mascall Dance’s The White Spider. Because these two shows were being presented by the Cultural Olympiad, every media release and thing I sent out to the media had to be vetted past the Cultural Olympiad committee and staff. Which added an extra, unaccustomed and time-consuming step to my already busy schedule.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to wallow in the negative. I have loved watching my country compete in the games, and it has been refreshing and exciting to see the outpouring of national pride during these last 16 days. It is an outpouring I have never witnessed before. Canada has done very well at this Olympics, winning more gold medals than any other host country in the history of the games.

While I doubt that we will actually break even at the end of the games, I do see that all of the TV coverage and people visiting are sowing the seeds for future business and tourism. And who knows what that number will be.

Closer to home, February of 2010 has been my worst month of business since I started in December of 2007. Other than the books I sold online and via Biz Books this month, my income was $0. A quick conversation with some of my friends led me to believe I was not alone: Biz Books, in fact, also suffered its worst month of business in its 14-year history.

I’m not too concerned, as I put money aside exactly for this worst-case scenario, and the projections for the next three months are excellent. I just think that this is more than a coincidence.

It has been difficult to get media coverage this month for the shows I have coming up in March. Over and over again, I heard from the media, “If it’s not to do with the Olympics, talk to us on March 1.”

I can only conclude that, if you were not operating your business in the middle of the Olympics, or your business was not directly connected to the Olympics, you suffered a significant loss during the month of February.

So… great for National Pride–Go, Canada!–but lousy for business. I’d love to hear from you if you live in Vancouver and run a business. How did the Olympics affect you?

 

Alliance makes sense of yesterday’s budget March 3, 2010

Filed under: Finances,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:32 pm
Tags:

Overall, I heard so many people yesterday saying “what does this mean??” There’s this $10 Million dollars, but where does it come from? Who gets it? And how does the budget compare to last years’?

I just got this email press release from The Alliance for Arts and Culture, which helps to make sense of all the numbers.

Reality Check: Arts Funding Cut By BC Budget

Arts funding was not restored to 2008/2009 levels in yesterday’s budget, despite a unanimous recommendation by the government’s Standing Committee on Finance”, according to Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai.

“In fact what we have seen are further cuts to core funding” said Mr. Alibhai, “for a total loss of 32.4 per cent from funding levels in 2008/09.

Here are the basic facts from the March 2 budget:

FACT: The BC Arts Council has been cut 53 per cent from 2008/09.This is funding used to provide core support for the creation of cultural experiences like those that thrilled audiences here and world-wide during the 2010 Olympics.

FACT: BC Gaming Commission contributions to the arts have been cut 58 per cent from 2008/09.This is funding used to make possible community access to the arts and culture through free public festivals and events.

FACT: A $10 million annual supplementary fund has been created, but we do not know how the funds will be administered or distributed.

FACT: Interest from the $150 million BC Arts and Culture Endowment remains the same.

FACT: The new budget includes $12 million for the BC Royal Museum. This support has remained the same for several years and is essentailly a transfer to a crown corporation; this has not traditionally been counted as part of the investment made through grants to the arts and cultural sector.

FACT: Total government investment in culture, including the newly announced $10 million annual supplementary fund, has been reduced by 32.4 per cent from the 2008/09 budget.

These numbers do not include cuts from other government sources to creative sector disciplines such as publishing, Music BC and others.

The following charts, Chart 1 from the government and Chart 2 from the Alliance, demonstrate the reality. You can see that the government numbers have been inflated by the addition of the $12 million for the Royal BC Museum.

“To win its bid for the 2010 Olympics, the BC government boasted about the British Columbia’s vibrant arts and culture scene, claiming that culture was the ‘second pillar’ of the Games. “We were hoping the government would continue to consider culture an important pillar of our society,” continued Mr. Alibhai.

“We look forward to working with the government in ensuring that the $10 million annual supplementary fund they have created is used to best effect,” Mr. Alibhai concluded. “And we shall continue to press for full restoration of arts funding to the levels the Finance Committee agreed were necessary.”

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