Dance-Techers,

As some of you are aware, TenduTV is a broadband dance channel that will begin broadcasting this summer. We've recently announced our first channel deal with TidalTV, and will be announcing additional distribution deals and content partnerships in the weeks and months to come, including some members of the Dance Tech community who have already signed on.

What I would like to do is make this a general discussion outlet for anyone who is, or would like to be, a content partner, to ask any questions that may arise: from technical specifications, to what kind of material we are looking for, to production advice, and perhaps most importantly, what kind of revenue opportunities and rights issues may exist.

If you want to ask your question in private, feel free to email me at mkirschner@tendu.tv.

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Marc,

Thanks for engaging in this open discussion about your upcoming launch:

These are some of my main questions - a number of these questions are based on our initial discussions:

1) How will you cultivate audiences of viewers for these dance videos? Will these audiences consist of current dancegoers and those who watch dance videos on sites such as YouTube? Are you hoping to reach out to new viewers? What would be demographics of these new audiences?

2) The quality of online dance videos could be much better. What steps are you taking to ensure that the dance videos you make available will be of highest quality possible?

3) Are you working with dance companies to videotape dance in new and different ways?

4) How will viewers access and watch these videos? Will they watch in browser with Flash or similar application? Will they be downloaded for viewing on, say, wide-screen HD TV? What are different alternatives and possibilities?

5) Will viewers have to pay to watch videos? Will the videos be advertising supported? Or a combination of the two?

6) How will dancers and dance companies make money? How much money might they make?

7) How are you dealing with copyright and other intellectual property issues? How are you going to resolve the music licensing issue, in particular?

8) What will be the freshness factor? My term for whether you will be making available new dance works that are about to be performed or are being performed?

9) Your primary focus at this point is stage performances of modern/contemporary dance with a focus on dance in New York City?

10) Will bloggers be able to embed your dance videos into their posts?

Much thanks and I look forward to your thoughts and answers.
Doug,

Thanks for the questions.

1.) We will be reaching both current and perhaps more importantly, new dance audiences, and will be integrating our marketing efforts with both our content and our distribution partners. Equally important, we want to find ways for potential audience members to "stumble upon" our content, such as through TidalTV's programming guide.

2.) Glad to see you've finally come aboard on the video quality issue. Our initial standard for video quality is fairly approachable, and will allow a pretty large swath of the industry to air work on the channel. Although we do have several production partners with whom we work, all of whom are experienced in shooting dance content and charge very reasonable rates for much better video than has been shot in the past, the fact that we will be generating revenue for dance companies which can be reinvested in future production will be the primary driver for improving quality industry-wide over the longer term. More of a small rant on the video quality issue can be found here:

3.) Our business is reaching audiences, not creating art. As such, we're staying completely out of the creative process. As stated above, we are working with dance companies to refine existing techniques, and better leverage their production budgets, but we feel strongly that making of the art itself is best left to the artists.

4.) Although the exact mechanics differ from partner to partner, browser-based flash appears to be the norm amongst our streaming partners. Some partners do require the download of a browser plug-in. There will be high quality streams, and higher quality downloads. We do view computer-based viewing as an intermediate step, and as such are making distribution to the television screen a top priority.

5.) Combination of the two.

6.) We split top-line revenues with dance companies, and many pay a royalty to the dancers. We do not publicly disclose specific revenue projections. What I will say is that if we can provide the equivalent of a week's additional salary to a dancer within the first year, we're on our way to making a real difference. Some will make less, some will make more.

7.) We are collaborating with our content partners to ensure all rights are in proper order, including dancers and music. Hard to give a specific answer on the music rights, since there is significant variance amongst the whims and desires of the rights holders and representatives.

8.) We will be rotating content available via our streaming partners on a monthly basis (industry term = refresh). Whether we show works that are about to be performed or currently being performed is ultimately up to the content partner. For some partners, the answer is an enthusiastic yes, while others are aghast at the idea.

9.) That is one of four foci. We are also and equally emphasizing dance on film (such as what would be found in the "Dance on Camera" festival), documentaries and original programming. Although our initial focus was modern/contemporary/ballet in NYC, we are now able to focus more on companies across the US and internationally.

10.) Absolutely yes. Maybe not initially, but definitely within a few months. In fact, I think bloggers, including and perhaps especially you, are going to be extremely pleased with our capabilities in this area. Needless to say, I got a warm, fuzzy feeling when I read one of your related recent posts, as we had already taken some tangible steps in that direction.

Cheers,

Marc
Marc,

Thanks for replies -- I'll follow-up.

I'm not sure I get where this point comes from: "Glad to see you've finally come aboard on the video quality issue. " Like just about everybody I've spoken with, the quality of online dance videos, especially on sites like YouTube, has much room for improvement.
A few updates to earlier responses, based on a new deal that will formally be announced at some point soon.

1.) There will be an automated and editorially driven recommendation engine. For example, if someone is watching SYTYCD, we can drive that traffic to our content from day 1, even if no one has watched both STYTCD and our content.

4.) In addition to the previously mentioned outlets, users will be able to view us on almost every mobile device or personal media player. Unfortunately, the glaring exception to this will be, in the short term, the iPhone.

9.) There will be, at launch, a particularly high ratio of "Dance For Camera" to "Performance Capture", from domestic and international sources. This will not always be the case. This is a reflection of current inventories: many dance films have high quality masters, and many performance captures don't.

10.) Will bloggers be able to embed your dance videos into their posts?

Bloggers will be able to embed videos into their blog posts. Bloggers will also be able to select up to a 30-second segment of a video, and embed that in their blog post.

This capability will be available in mid-September.
Hi Marc,
It was great to meet you last night, and I've finally done some catch up on your channel - overall it looks great and i think it's a really big and exciting step!

I did have a few questions for you about it. Since I am new to the discussion, I'm sorry if i'm repeating any questions that came previously.

1.) I'm interested to hear how you're planning on dividing up the programing. By style? By content? By live vs. for film vs. technical interface?

2.) As you said, your jobs is "reaching audiences, not creating art", but how much of what you're interested in with the creation of this channel is about drawing audiences in and educating/enriching them versus making money as a business entity jumping on the "sudden" popularity of dance in mainstream culture? (And, for the record, I'm not implying that the later is bad at all!)

3.) As an offshoot of those two questions, how much will Tendu be a force in introducing new work and new artists to viewers? What's the algorithm for determining what goes when and how often? Who are the creative minds behind (or maybe merging with) the business choices?

4.) Since no one's asked it (at least in this discussion) what kind of programing are you looking for? Is there an interest in low-budget and experimental work, or are you more interested in presenting the "best of" dance media today? Will there also be programing about the process of shooting and choreographing for the screen, or will tendu only be focusing on the product?

5.) And last, if the I and/or the production company that I work for was interested in being one of those production partners (or consultants) that you mentioned, what would be the way to go about doing that?

Cheers on your endeavor, I'm excited to see how it grows (even if i don't have a TV)!
Sarah,

Good meeting you as well. For those who couldn't make it last night, I highly recommend you make the next meetup.

To answer your questions (at least partially):

1.) The content will be organized in different ways, depending on the capabilities of the distribution partner. Through TidalTV, we will be focusing on specific 15/30/60/90/120 minute programming blocks, which will be organized by individual performances/films if they are long enough, or as compilations (eg. 60 minutes of video dance, subdivided into individual titles, for example, if you were to go to TidalTV and see how the AP News channel is arranged, you can select whichever news segment you want, even though the topline program choice on the programming guide is "AP News". On Sling, each title will be available individually, although they may also be organized by general category. Some partners will also have their own page. As we get tangible data, we'll be able to organize and program more effectively.

2.) The two goals are indistinguishable, although I will add that the original concept came before the recent spate of the commercial dance programs. What drove our decision to move forward now, as opposed to a few years ago, was that many of the other requirements that were needed to make the project viable had yet to be in place. A more educated audience begets a more passionate audience, which begets a larger audience, which begets more money, and since more money means more rehearsal time, and more time spent by choreographers choreographing (as opposed to fundraising), this means better overall content.

3.) The first of many answers to that question is reach combined with potential for "discovery." We often get asked by companies why they should give the content to us, rather than put it on their own website. Besides the fact that we can power the latter, the real choice is between whether you want to be able to reach the small number of people who are already looking for you, or the much larger (by several orders of magnitude) number of people who aren't... yet. TidalTV, although relatively unknown in the mainstream at this point, has seen explosive user growth in their first two months in open beta. They may have already passed Blip.TV in monthly unique visitors, and will likely pass Vimeo in short order (using Quantcast data). Equally impressive is the amount of time people spend watching TV on the site per visit, which, although I don't know if I can discuss specifics here, certainly meets the requirements of our long, longer and short form programming. Our other partner, Sling Media, is going to be bringing a whole other suite of marketing and distribution opportunities to the table that reflect both their unique technological capabilities and the distribution reach of their new parent company, Echostar (aka the Dish Network, which serves close to 14 million homes with satellite service) Rather than a laundry list of specifics, just go to the site, and pay attention to how you find content (note: Sling.com is not yet in open beta, and as such, unaccessible to the public). We will have the same opportunities, and will be able to emphasize content as we see fit. As far as determining algorithms, there is none. We will handle programming on a monthly basis internally, and those programming decisions will incorporate, on an equal basis, our business needs as well as our desire to provide as diverse a swath of dance programming as possible.

4.) We have four main content categories: performance, screendance, documentary, and original series (eg. Dance-Tech), and as mentioned before, we're committed to diversity of choice within that category for our monthly programming, and there are fewer constraints as it related to what we make available for paid download.

As far as low budget and experimental, we're stringent as it relates to technical quality, and more open as it relates to the creative merits. If you're editing on iMovie, the work is not going to meet our technical specification. If the dancers are poorly trained (or just poor dancers), the work won't make it past our advisory board. As far as the choreography itself, that is something that for the most part we are happily to leave to the audience to decide, although I shouldn't discount the fact that we do look at a choreographer's/filmmaker's reputation and history (Have they performed in credible spaces/showcases? Have they been included or won awards at film festivals? Have they received grants/opportunities to develop their craft though a reputable institution (eg. DTW, DNA, Chez).)

I should note that we are working on several institutional partnerships, and eventually much of the emerging artists' work will end up being filtered/curated by them. As far as programming about the process, that will mostly fall under the documentary category. Off the top of my head, I don't know if we have any content in the pipeline that specifically discusses the process of choreographing for screen, but we would certainly take a close look if something relevant came our way.

Another note on "experimental": We do make a distinction between experimental that is experimental, where the final product can be a complete success or utter failure, versus experimental that lacks an experiment.

5.) The production company should contact me directly and set up a meeting at mkirschner[at]tendu[dot]tv.

I think I answered most of the questions. If not, feel free to reask. Fortunately, you don't need a TV, just a computer... or a mobile phone... or a personal media player :)
Another quick update:

1.) Launch is coming "within a matter of weeks"
2.) As soon as we can, we are going to try to post updated technical guidelines, to be used as a reference of anyone filming dance. The bottom line is that the distribution side of the industry is rapidly becoming much stricter as far as what they will accept. In fact, there are a few analytical tools coming to market that will determine whether or not the master recordings are of high enough technical quality to meet the standards of many of the more popular revenue generating download and streaming sites.

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