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NYCB and live cinema


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#16 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:20 PM

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.f...14632_3246.html



#17 Amy Reusch

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 06:27 AM

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/...ef_=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.

#18 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 07:40 AM

 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?



#19 sandik

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 07:57 AM

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.



#20 Helene

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 09:52 AM


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.

#21 California

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:20 AM

 

 

 

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.

 
 



#22 kfw

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:28 AM

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.



#23 California

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:32 AM

 

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.



#24 Helene

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:39 PM

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.

#25 California

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:53 PM

 

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.



#26 Helene

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:24 PM

But imagine if someone who only knew Baryshnikov, and watched him online, was gently nudged towards some other ballet...

Or someone who watched Yo Yo Ma was gently nudged to watch "Falling Down Stairs"...

#27 kfw

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:56 PM

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. 

 

Spotify, which is of course an audio-only service, has recently started doing the same thing, with ads saying things like "People who listen to Wayne Shorter are also listening to Bud Powell," plus big, attractive photos and a Play icon. That works with me. Previously, when you launched the program you'd see ads, but they weren't targeted. As someone who mostly listens to jazz, classical and opera, I found it a little irritating to be shown ads for current pop stars.



#28 sandik

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 07:47 PM

Or someone who watched Yo Yo Ma was gently nudged to watch "Falling Down Stairs"...

Sigh.

 

I love that work.

 

(returning to the general conversation)



#29 abatt

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 05:00 AM

On a side note, the NY Philharmonic's performance of a Dancer's Dream, which featured Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar with the NY Phil, is going to be broadcast in cinemas this month.  (The performances were in June 2013).  At least it's an opportunity to see some NYCB dancers in the cinema.



#30 California

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 05:59 AM

While we are reminiscing about the "good old days" on PBS, WNET is showing a 90-minute documentary about some of its historic performances, including Baryshnikov. If you scroll down, they have a 3 minute clip about him (and also Gregory Hines). Notably, they seem to focus mainly on the 1980s, not the even more elusive 70s we have been discussing.

 

http://www.broadwayw...ir-910-20130906

 

It will be shown in New York Tuesday, 9/10. I suppose the rest of us have to hope it will be picked up by our local PBS channels.




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