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NYCB and live cinema

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In this lengthy article about opera and ballet companies using live cinema, I was stunned to read this excuse from NYCB as to why they don't do this:

“We would love to be able to do the live films and there is media capability built into the theater, but it’s just too expensive,” said Katherine E. Brown, executive director of the New York City Ballet. “And we would need to negotiate an arrangement with the union. So we have to come up with other things. We think this whole area is really important — the way people are consuming culture is very much about being online.”

I see two excuses: (1) the unions: but, obviously, the other organizations have figured out how to negotiate this. The Met says they share net revenues with the artists and organizations, so presumably that could be done at NYCB, too. (2) The expense: I'm sure there are start-up expenses, but the article also says that the Metropolitan Opera is making $20 million a year in net profits. I suppose the ballet might earn less, but the Met shows it can be done.

It's also interesting that ABT is not even mentioned. I wonder if someone there was interviewed?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/arts/music/stars-of-stage-and-now-screen.html?pagewanted=all

The paucity of broadcasts and DVDs from the current iterations of NYCB and ABT is a continuing complaint on this board. I wonder what others think of the NYCB excuses?

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Without knowing much about their budgets and the terms of their union contracts, I wouldn't want to assume that Ms Brown's statement, that it's just too expensive, is off the mark. The Met Opera has a different relationship with its performing artists, and a different fundraising pool -- it's really not a straight 'apples to apples' comparison.

But I think that the administrations of ABT and NYCB should certainly be working towards including live broadcast/DVDs in their future negotiations with all their artistic staff. The landscape has changed significantly and they need to move along with it.

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If the Met has technology and the satellite in Lincoln Center's backyard, plus the experience and expertise, I would approach the Met if I were NYCB, ABT, the New York Philharmonic, Juilliard, the theater and jazz groups in the complex, etc. to see if there are any opportunities to co-produce with them.

Yes, they's have to negotiate with the unions. They would have one place to go for dancers, though, instead of working with multiple artists, and dancers are the right age to embrace new technologies. The arguments for audience-building and fundraising apply to ballet dancers: the more funds that come into the company, the better off the dancers are, one step removed. There are also so few opportunities for dancers to be known through recordings, outside a few places where high-ish quality videos make their way regularly to YouTube, where we can compare not only three Mariinsky ballerinas' Nikiyas, for example, but multiple performances of one ballerina. Most NYCB dancers are known solely from promotional clips and written descriptions. HD broadcasts, which can then be monetized through streaming, downloads, and DVD's, would allow more than locals and visitors to see these dancers, especially when the Balanchine and Robbins Trusts have control over what can be seen of the best of their rep.

The Philharmonic, I'd guess, would try to feature guest artists and would be in negotiation with the orchestra's union and the YoYo Ma's.

The Met made itself a "National" company long ago with its radio broadcasts and has made a huge splash with the Met in HD series. In Vancouver, an hour after sales opened, the pickings were slim in the big theater except for the first five rows for this season's operas (except, predictably, for "The Nose). Especially where there are no local sports teams, fans grab onto some team for which to root. (You can see NY Yankees hats and Manchester United jerseys everywhere.) Ted Turner broadcast Atlanta Braves games on his national cable station and grabbed a lot of non-affiliated fans. I haven't seen any stats to indicate that Met in HD has caused big drops in local attendance and support, although especially as people age, staying local and going to a movie theater on a Saturday during the day will become a more viable option, but this demographic stops attending live performances anyway. The ticket prices, not much more than most club cover charges, are a low barrier to entry for young people, and for older people on a fixed income, they are affordable.

There's a big opportunity for the first dance company out in this media to become "America's Company" and capture the loyalties especially of those in ballet-deprived areas of the country -- there are more local orchestras and opera groups/companies than ballet companies, hence fewer local affiliations in ballet -- but also where there is a ballet company. Porn, on average, doesn't stop people from wanting sex: it makes them want to have more of the live experience, and I don't see why this wouldn't be true of ballet on HD vs. live performances (where available).

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I would also like to hear what ABT has to say about this. I have always been baffled its failure to take advantage of the Met's HD facilities, not to mention an audience with a built-in habit of going to the cinema on Saturday afternoons. I think of my aunt, a fanatical standee in her college years, who so loved going to the Met that when the opera season ended, she would keep right on going to see the visiting ballet companies.

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I think that Katherine Brown is a hypocrite. She was the architect of the NYCB policy of closing down the third and fourth rings, thereby eliminating large numbers of affordable seats. (Even when the fourth ring is open, the seat prices are so overpriced that they frequently don't sell, except for Nutcracker and SL.) The fact that she is now paying lip service to the idea of broadening the NYCB audience through live film is comical under the circumstances. If NYCB wants to broaden the audience, they should open up the higher rings for every show and price them reasonably. Then more people could afford to come see the show live and in person at the theater. Unlike the Bolshoi, which the article tells us is always sold out, NYCB is often less than half full, in part due to the pricing policies and ring closures used by NYCB.

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Clearly NYCB thinks it makes more money by forcing people to buy higher priced seats or not buy seats at all than by letting them choose lower-priced seats. I don't like their closing of the upper rings either, but their doing so doesn't mean Brown wouldn't sincerely love to broaden the audience. It just means she's looking at the bottom line.

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I think you're all missing a crucial part of the NYT article. It is not specific about how the costs work, but you can use some analysis to understand how the MET made this work. They negotiated their contracts before anyone was making any money on this, so the unions, distributors, etc all signed up for a reasonable expense. Now that it is known that the MET makes good money, the unions and distributors are playing hard ball to make money from anyone who is new to this market.

Just look at the Time Warner / CBS kerfuffle to see how greed disrupts the distribution of entertainment in the US. The distribution of movie screens is absolutely no different. Entertainment is controlled by people who are hired to be essentially jerks and to push for the highest fees possible, and stonewall if they can't get it.

As I understand it, the MET productions cost about $3 million each to produce. If the Bolshoi produced an Opera, do you think people around the world would pay $18 to go see it in a movie theatre? Probably not. But they would pay to go see the MET. That's a big difference. I'm not sure that NYCB or ABT have the international (or even national) drawing power of the MET. It has an annual budget of $325 million. NYCB is under $62 million and ABT is under $40 million.

I'm not sure either company is in a position to risk $3 million on a live broadcast this year. It's a much bigger financial risk for them than for the MET.

But for the moment, the Met is the only organization whose initiatives are profitable.

That is mostly because the organization, thanks to Mr. Gelb’s negotiations with the unions, got out of the starting blocks quickly. From the outset, the Met owned the technology and employed the highly skilled, in-house production team that operates it.

“We literally control the distribution because the satellite is sitting outside the Met in a van,” Mr. Gelb said. “It’s incredibly complicated because we have separate contracts with every licensee in every country, but it’s all us. We are producing and distributing the program — the screening, and every additional release in whichever medium — with no middleman. That broad distribution is why we are able to make money.”

Without those systems in place, some major companies clearly consider the investment too great.

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I understand your point, KFW. However, if Brown wanted to broaden the audience, NYCB wouldn't be playing this game of controlling the supply of tickets. The way she has approached reaching financial goals has diminished the audience, rather than broadened it, in my opinion.

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Broadening the audience does not just mean putting butts in seats in the theater. HD broadcasts wouldn't be targeted to NYC. They'd be broadening the audience nation- and world-wide to a market that sees Balanchine through the POB's, Bolshoi's, and Mariinsky's take instead of NYCB's. It would also re-engage the interest of former NYers who were company folliwers/supporters back in the day. Southern Florida theaters should be able to thrive on this.

I think you're all missing a crucial part of the NYT article. It is not specific about how the costs work, but you can use some analysis to understand how the MET made this work. They negotiated their contracts before anyone was making any money on this, so the unions, distributors, etc all signed up for a reasonable expense. Now that it is known that the MET makes good money, the unions and distributors are playing hard ball to make money from anyone who is new to this market.

I think it's clear from the article why the Met's model is different than anyone else's would be. When it boils down to it, unions and distributors, who took a big beating on SFB's "Nutcracker," for example, had the choice then and have one now to accept this as a break-even at best. They might have a valid argument that the risk is too great and a failure would impact them greatly, because NYCB transmissions wouldn't net over 5% of the operating budget.

Just look at the Time Warner / CBS kerfuffle to see how greed disrupts the distribution of entertainment in the US. The distribution of movie screens is absolutely no different. Entertainment is controlled by people who are hired to be essentially jerks and to push for the highest fees possible, and stonewall if they can't get it.

a number of theaters out west who show Met in HD are arthouse cinemas, and this hasn't been their pattern. I think it would be a bigger issue to get distributors to take the product.

If the Bolshoi produced an Opera, do you think people around the world would pay $18 to go see it in a movie theatre?

Yes, in fact people around the world pay $18 (or $20-25) in Canada to see productions from La Scala and the Royal Opera House, and the Bolshoi Opera has long been one of the world's great companies. The collaboration with French production teams is already in place for the ballet, and the Bolshoi Opera has stars that worldwide audiences clamor to see. They'd also have the advantage of packaging it together with the Bolshoi Ballet in terms of distribution.

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Yes, in fact people around the world pay $18 (or $20-25) in Canada to see productions from La Scala and the Royal Opera House, and the Bolshoi Opera has long been one of the world's great companies.. They'd also have the advantage of packaging it together with the Bolshoi Ballet in terms of distribution.

I think it has been discussed elsewhere on the board that the Met stipulates that cinemas that show its HD performances cannot show the broadcasts of other opera companies. Since the Met got out of the gate early and established successful ties with many U.S. chains, it is exceedingly difficult for any other opera company to elbow its way in.

Canada has only two movie chains with nationwide reach, and both of them have been showing the Met since the outset, though at present Empire Cinemas shows the Met only in Atlantic Canada, while Cineplex shows it everywhere else. The Cineplex dance series, when it finally got going, was built around the Bolshoi, and was later augmented by the Royal Ballet. But apparently the Royal Opera is off limits because of existing contracts with the Met, and presumably the Canadian market would be equally inaccessible to the Bolshoi Opera. No doubt contracts with the Met would make the bundling of the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera difficult in other countries as well. For example, Pathé Live, the Bolshoi Ballet's primary distributor, is also the French distributor for the Met.

Distribution continues to be a problem for the Royal Opera House in the U.S. When Emerging Pictures announced its fall season, the lineup included the Bolshoi Ballet and La Scala, but the Royal Ballet and Opera, which had been included in more than one preceding season, were conspicuously absent. http://www.emergingpictures.com/2013/08/05/opera-and-ballet-in-cinema-from-emerging-pictures-fall-winter-2013-season-announced/ For now, at least, it appears that U.S. audiences will not get to see the Royal Ballet's forthcoming cinecasts.

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I believe Helene's point about audiences learning about Balanchine from companies other than NYCB is the most telling. Doesn't NYCB want to maintain a semblance of leadership as the custodian of the Balanchine legacy? And shouldn't they have a mindset to do whatever it takes to accomplish this?

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If distribution is such an expensive concern for companies like NYCB, I wonder why they simply don't organise an on-line subscription situation themselves - a la 'Met on Demand'. In that way they (e.g., NYCB) could control matters and not depend on the almighty (outside) middlemen (at least in terms of the marketing/distribution). I'm sure there are a world of people out there who in time will be eager to view their product and for whom an opportunity to experience such live at the Koch Theatre (no matter how many levels are closed - READ 'SHOCKING: I GREW UP IN THE FOURTH CIRCLE' - and regardless how astute the almighty social media interface may be) is an all-too-rare luxury. Surely NYCB simply have to start somewhere* in this regard ... and time does, after all, wait for no man (nor ballet company for that matter).

(*NYCB did a few years ago do a live cinema broadcast of Balanchine's The Nutcracker I believe [e.g., other than the commercial cinema release shot some years previous]. I know I saw a screening of the live performance in London and was deeply appreciative ... or am I dreaming .... and merely old ??)

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Thank you, volcanohunter. I remember seeing the Royal Opera "La Traviata" with Fleming and Hampson in Vancouver, but the years have flown by so quickly, maybe it was before the Met in HD. I'm visualizing that it was shown at the big multi-plex on Granville, former main venue of the Vancouver International Film Festival, that is no more. (It's being developed.) Granville 7 was part of the Empire Cinemas chain.

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(*NYCB did a few years ago do a live cinema broadcast of Balanchine's The Nutcracker I believe [e.g., other than the commercial cinema release shot some years previous]. I know I saw a screening of the live performance in London and was deeply appreciative ... or am I dreaming .... and merely old ??)

You could be dreaming, but they did do a live Nutcracker broadcast in 2011. wink1.gif

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I have no idea what has to happen to make NYCB broadcast or record its ballets, but I would cry with joy if it happened. There is so much Balanchine and Robbins repertoire that needs good recording.

The article itself, though, makes a bigger deal out of social media attracting audiences. So, congrats BalletAlert for being part of the revolution!

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You're correct, Helene. The season after the Met's first cinema broadcasts Empire Theatres started an alternate series that presented primarily Opus Arte productions (ROH, POB, Teatro Real, Liceu, Netherlands Opera). Perhaps there was a loophole involved: the multiplexes in Vancouver, Winnipeg or Toronto showing these performances were not the ones showing the Met in HD, and the Opus Arte performances were all pre-recorded. I was sorry that the series stopped because it endeavored to show as many ballets as operas, and I was unbothered by the fact that the performances weren't live.

A year ago Cineplex did air a couple of operas from the Royal Opera House, but they were pre-recorded 3D films. They may have been sufficiently different from "live in HD" to qualify.

(*NYCB did a few years ago do a live cinema broadcast of Balanchine's The Nutcracker I believe [e.g., other than the commercial cinema release shot some years previous]. I know I saw a screening of the live performance in London and was deeply appreciative ... or am I dreaming .... and merely old ??)

It's very odd that this was not mentioned in the article since it's entirely germane to the subject matter. I would be interested in learning how this turned out for NYCB. My guess is that the American side of things was bungled. The cinema broadcast was followed the next day by a live broadcast on free television, which wouldn't have incentivized going to the movies.

Most of the article is now behind a paywall, but in May Le Monde published a piece on the Bolshoi's cinema screenings which suggested that the enterprise was very successful. The Bolshoi may stream performances for its domestic audience free of charge on You Tube, but the screenings abroad are decidedly made for profit.

http://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2013/05/21/sur-550-ecrans-le-bolchoi-fait-son-cinema_3414632_3246.html

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When NYCB did that Nutcracker, it had to be done with a European orchestra, not their own. I'm afraid I don't remember the details anymore but it was discussed on the original ballet newsgroup alt.arts.ballet. I want to say the dancers were not dancing to the orchestra you hear playing, but don't quite remember how it worked... whether it was shot in Europe or shot here and synced later? Someone here must remember.

I wonder how the MET got it to work with their union. The idea that it wasn't going to be a big money maker has not bothered unions in the past... Could the MET have simply agreed to the union's terms, believing they would recoup?

Edited later to add the following:

I looked it up and here are the credits. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107719/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

It says NYCB orchestra but also three pianists. I swear though that there was something about the sound, whether they had to shoot the whole thing in Europe? Will dig further. Can't seem to find alt.arts.ballet archive anymore. Pity.

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Porn, on average, doesn't stop people from wanting sex: it makes them want to have more of the live experience, and I don't see why this wouldn't be true of ballet on HD vs. live performances (where available).

Hmmm … Maybe NYCB should do a porno. Other than Bugaku, I mean. Coppelia seems particularly rich with promise.

Ahem, but back to one of Helene’s points: as the popular music industry demonstrates, the wide availability of inexpensive (or even free) recordings doesn’t necessarily cannibalize live events. From The Economist’s 10/07/10 issue:

The longest, loudest boom is in live music. Between 1999 and 2009 concert-ticket sales in America tripled in value, from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion.

It is not that more people are going to concerts. Rather, they are paying more to get in. In 1996 a ticket to one of America's top 100 concert tours cost $25.81, according to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the average ticket would have cost $35.30 last year. In fact it cost $62.57. Well-known acts charge much more. The worldwide average ticket price to see Madonna last year was $114. For Simon & Garfunkel it was an eye-watering $169. Leading musicians have also, by roundabout means, seized a larger share of the mysterious “service” charges that are often tacked onto tickets.

Fans complain bitterly about the rising price of live music. Yet they keep paying for concerts.

Many musicians treat recordings not as a money-making end in themselves, but as a way to build an audience and pull it into a venue for a live event. As “The Sky is Rising” TechDirt’s 1/30/12 report on the entertainment industry pointed out “There’s actual scarcity (not artificial scarcity) for live music … There really isn’t a way to replicate rock stars like Bono, and many fans will do (or pay) almost anything to see them.” Big acts like U2 grab the headlines in this regard, but many indy bands make a decent living playing clubs and smaller venues. I live in near Irving Plaza and Webster Hall. They’re lined up to get in every night despite the fact that you can watch just about any act on YouTube or download their recordings for nothing if you really want to.

Live in cinema broadcasts of concert music and dance (yes, I’m deliberately avoiding the terms “classical” and “ballet”) might not function as the same kind of marketing tool that a music act's recordings can, however. For one thing, a broadcast of an opera, a ballet, or an orchestral concert is much more like a live event than a U2 single is like a U2 concert. (Sporting events are probably a better analogy here, although there is real money in broadcast rights.) For another, a major ballet, orchestra, or opera company with a “home” is unlikely to undertake the kind of extensive (and punishing) year-in-year-out tour schedule that a music act will. (It’s a different story for smaller dance and music ensembles. The Paul Taylor Dance Company never rests. Ditto the St. Lawrence String Quartet.) And popular music is deeply woven into the of the fabric of daily life in a way that the concert arts are not. (And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but that's another discussion.)

So I can see why a U.S. performing arts organization that is not the Metropolitan Opera might hesitate to race into the live in cinema broadcast market: the barriers to entry are high (you have to negotiate with rights holders, artists, producers, donors / grantors, and distributors for starters), it’s expensive to do well, the financial rewards are uncertain, and it won’t necessarily put butts in seats back home.

For most performing arts organizations, live in cinema broadcasts are unlikely to be any more self-supporting than actual performances are and few can offer the draw of twenty-five star-studded productions over eight months like the Met does. This is where PBS ought to be awakening from its Antiques Roadshow and Yanni Pledge Week Special slumber to provide a real service to the arts. Live from Lincoln Center needn’t—and shouldn’t—be a once-in-a-blue moon TV broadcast anymore. PBS might use its institutional resources to produce a nice smorgasbord of live performances beamed into theaters and high school auditoriums across the nation year-round. (The Lincoln Center theaters are never dark, not even in August.) They could follow up with re-broadcasts on their own network, with downloads on iTunes or Amazon, with streaming on Netflix and Amazon, on the menus of airline seat-back entertainment systems, whatever wherever.

A consortium of major performing arts centers might collaborate to do the same thing. Hello, hello – Michael Kaiser, are you there?

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This is where PBS ought to be awakening from its Antiques Roadshow and Yanni Pledge Week Special slumber to provide a real service to the arts. Live from Lincoln Center needn’t—and shouldn’t—be a once-in-a-blue moon TV broadcast anymore. PBS might use its institutional resources to produce a nice smorgasbord of live performances beamed into theaters and high school auditoriums across the nation year-round. (The Lincoln Center theaters are never dark, not even in August.) They could follow up with re-broadcasts on their own network, with downloads on iTunes or Amazon, with streaming on Netflix and Amazon, on the menus of airline seat-back entertainment systems, whatever wherever.

A consortium of major performing arts centers might collaborate to do the same thing. Hello, hello – Michael Kaiser, are you there?

From your lips to the gods' ears. Live from Lincoln Center has positioned itself as a trip across the Atlantic in an ocean liner -- majestic, slow, and infrequent. I think they might have to create a different entity for something like this, but it's an excellent idea.

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If distribution is such an expensive concern for companies like NYCB, I wonder why they simply don't organise an on-line subscription situation themselves - a la 'Met on Demand'.

This is where PBS ought to be awakening from its Antiques Roadshow and Yanni Pledge Week Special slumber to provide a real service to the arts. Live from Lincoln Center needn’t—and shouldn’t—be a once-in-a-blue moon TV broadcast anymore. PBS might use its institutional resources to produce a nice smorgasbord of live performances beamed into theaters and high school auditoriums across the nation year-round. (The Lincoln Center theaters are never dark, not even in August.) They could follow up with re-broadcasts on their own network, with downloads on iTunes or Amazon, with streaming on Netflix and Amazon, on the menus of airline seat-back entertainment systems, whatever wherever.

A consortium of major performing arts centers might collaborate to do the same thing. Hello, hello – Michael Kaiser, are you there?

A consortium might be able to invest in the equipment, producers, and distribution avenues that would mitigate the risk for individual companies producing on their own. This might be spearheaded by NPR, but, if not, half of the directors at ballet companies know each other, and, at least outside the NY companies, they know they couldn't pull this off on their own. I know PNB got a multi-year grant for using new media to promote the arts, which is where those wonderful, albeit short videos, could come -- they could snag Lindsay Thomas for the production team -- and there might be some money out there to help kickstart it.

There's also a treasure trove in PBS archives from when it was more robust, everything from "Live in Lincoln Center" to "Dance in America," things that people have been dying to see again. (Can you imagine comparing Sallie Wilson and Cynthia Gregory in "Pillar of Fire"?) I'm not sure if any future broadcast provisions were in the original contracts with the featured organizations, or if they addressed alternate media, which would have been VHS/beta and maybe laserdisk in the high-volume years, and I suspect they'd have to re-negotiate. Ballet companies, who might be less interested in showcasing dancers who are no longer with the company, might balk, while few care that the second violinist in the NY Phil was someone else in 1978, and Yo-Yo Ma and Isaac Stern are forever, but that would be losing legacy. The archives could be the start of a "Met on Demand"-like model, with individual downloads available on iTunes or amazon.com.

My guess is that the American side of things was bungled. The cinema broadcast was followed the next day by a live broadcast on free television, which wouldn't have incentivized going to the movies.

In general, "Nutcracker" performances have been aired at a time when families are swamped and exhausted, and the "Nutcracker" isn't going to displace commercial films at the mall cinemas where it would be convenient to dump the kids while getting the holiday shopping done.

In addition, producers have made some questionable, shoot-oneself-in-the-foot choices: the taped San Francisco Ballet "Nutcracker" was shown in Vancouver the same day as the live National Ballet of Canada "Nutcracker," and at overlapping times, and there were two dozen of us max watching SFB movie, which, of course, sends back the message that there's no audience. If nothing else, the Met in HD has proven that there's an audience.

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There's also a treasure trove in PBS archives from when it was more robust, everything from "Live in Lincoln Center" to "Dance in America," things that people have been dying to see again. (Can you imagine comparing Sallie Wilson and Cynthia Gregory in "Pillar of Fire"?) I'm not sure if any future broadcast provisions were in the original contracts with the featured organizations, or if they addressed alternate media, which would have been VHS/beta and maybe laserdisk in the high-volume years, and I suspect they'd have to re-negotiate. Ballet companies, who might be less interested in showcasing dancers who are no longer with the company, might balk, while few care that the second violinist in the NY Phil was someone else in 1978, and Yo-Yo Ma and Isaac Stern are forever, but that would be losing legacy. The archives could be the start of a "Met on Demand"-like model, with individual downloads available on iTunes or amazon.com.

My memory regarding the 11-year delay in releasing the "Live from Lincoln Center" Giselle with Makarova and Baryshnikov was precisely because the contracts in 1977, when it was broadcast, did not anticipate release in VHS/Beta. Home videorecording machines in 1977 were prohibitively expensive. I remember setting a goal that when prices came DOWN to $1000, I would buy one and that turned out to be 1980. Renegotiating contracts for anything prior to about 1980 is expensive and is only done when they at least think they'll get a return on the investment.

The release of "Baryshnikov at Wolf Trap" was even more complicated. The performances were in July 1976 (they did two consecutive nights) and the entire show was broadcast on PBS in fall of 1976. We had to wait many years to get a VHS (and now a DVD), not only because the contracts did not anticipate VHS/DVD release but also because Gelsey Kirkland balked. (She finally relented when they included that statement at the end of the tape.) People who remember the originals from 1976 know that the first movement of Push Comes to Shove (with Tcherkassky and van Hamel, the original cast) disappeared from the VHS. Presumably Tharp objected, as she had a studio version of the complete work (with Kudo and Jaffe) in the works.

Anything with Baryshnikov is a money-maker, but other "Live" broadcasts from the 1970s are risky. There are a few, but not many. If they could get past the contract renegotiations, they could explore download and streaming sales to avoid having to make physical media, but the contracts seem to be the bigger problem.


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Anything with Baryshnikov is a money-maker, but other "Live" broadcasts from the 1970s are risky. There are a few, but not many. If they could get past the contract renegotiations, they could explore download and streaming sales to avoid having to make physical media, but the contracts seem to be the bigger problem.

Meanwhile, the Cunningham people have found it feasible and worthwhile to put out three separate - and in the first two cases multi-disc - releases since Merce's death. I can't imagine those are big moneymakers, but I'm grateful.

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Anything with Baryshnikov is a money-maker, but other "Live" broadcasts from the 1970s are risky. There are a few, but not many. If they could get past the contract renegotiations, they could explore download and streaming sales to avoid having to make physical media, but the contracts seem to be the bigger problem.

Meanwhile, the Cunningham people have found it feasible and worthwhile to put out three separate - and in the first two cases multi-disc - releases since Merce's death.

Yes, but he lived long enough to make sure they would have the rights to do all of that. People forget that in the 1970s, the movie studios were trying to block or heavily tax the sale of blank videotapes as they thought VCRs would destroy their business - until they realized they could make serious money by selling tapes of the films in their libraries. It was a very different era and even the industry professionals did not anticipate the digital revolution post-1980.

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Anything with Baryshnikov is a money-maker, but other "Live" broadcasts from the 1970s are risky. There are a few, but not many. If they could get past the contract renegotiations, they could explore download and streaming sales to avoid having to make physical media, but the contracts seem to be the bigger problem.

I'm sure Yo-Yo Ma and the estate of Isaac Stern would disagree smile.png There's far more to the PBS archives than dance.

The advantage of individual downloads is that they aren't that expensive to maintain, and the advantage of a vault is that no one production has to stand alone. There are plenty of statistics available for paid downloads, and any profits could be distributed by the number of paid downloads. I'm a subscriber to Medici TV, which has a wide range of offerings. Most of them are classical music, but they also vault at least some of the Bolshoi Ballet HD's for on demand viewing. They do recommendations based on what I've just seen. For example after watching a documentary on the great Flamenco cantaor Agujetas, there were recommendations for two other Flamenco-related videos. I was ready to see more; I might not have chosen these videos off a list. For the subscription model, there's no monetary risk for trying the unknown unless you're at the end of the sub period and running out of time, and the system itself can prompt you there. The key is to have enough volume and keep a steady stream of new offerings to keep subscribers interested. That doesn't mean newly produced videos, but if I had a big inventory, I would release enough to make it worthwhile to join and slowly add the rest.

It would be fantastic if a production team could set up shop at, for example, the Vail International Dance Festival, and shoot away, the way Medici has a whole series of videos from the Annecy Festival and Romanian TV is streaming from the Enescu Festival. A couple of weeks at a festival provides a good number of offerings.

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Anything with Baryshnikov is a money-maker, but other "Live" broadcasts from the 1970s are risky. There are a few, but not many. If they could get past the contract renegotiations, they could explore download and streaming sales to avoid having to make physical media, but the contracts seem to be the bigger problem.

I'm sure Yo-Yo Ma and the estate of Isaac Stern would disagree smile.png There's far more to the PBS archives than dance.

Oh, for sure. I was only thinking about dance.

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