Strange times, that’s for sure. We are confused. Some of us scream for more personal responsibility and freedom, while others want stronger government intervention and control.
I did not publish a lot recently. Life kept me busy with things that are not related to dance. I also took the time to read and think a lot. Some books were more thought-provoking than others. Here are four that I want to recommend if you are looking for stuff to read. Two of them are fiction, two non-fiction.
1984. George Orwell.
Schöne Neue Welt. Aldous Huxley. (Original title: Brave New World)
Die gefährliste aller Religionen. Larken Rose. (Original title: The Most Dangerous Superstition)
Psychologie der Massen. Gustave Le Bon. (Original title: Psychologie des Foules, French)
If you are reading them in 2021, I guarantee for a mind-bending journey.
The new episode of the Tanzcafé Podcast is out now. This time I talk to Joana aka Joflow, who is the founder of the female artist collective All Aut Females*. Find out about her story in dance, how she balances dance and being a proud mother, and what motivated her to start All Aut Females*.
As usual, Tanzcafè Podcast is in the German language.
Cash Flow is the way we use our money to handle life. It is not exactly something that we are usually taught in school, but it absolutely should be. For artists, a smart cashflow can bring you into a position that enables you to create more, and live the life you want. The points that cover here are valid for everyone, but I use examples from the dance world.
If you want to read up on the matter in depth: Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant from Robert Kyosaki cover those topics in easily understandable language. There is better literature if you are already in the matter but those are a perfect starting point if you want to dig deeper.
The predominant model – the Rat Race cash flow
The majority of people work a job and directly spend the money to cover their fixed cost and additional expenses. It is what is taught in schools. Get a good education, get a good job.
The issue with this model is that at the moment, you are not able to work (or don’t want to), you have no way of covering your costs. Smart fellas have a few months of savings, but it does not change the fact that you depend on your work.
Some folks consider this to be the modern form of slavery. But that is a debate for another day.
The smart cashflow that can lead to financial independence
The smarter set-up is to put your work into creating assets that make you money and pay your costs from the income produced by those assets. Assets can be anything that generates income without the need to constantly spend your time on them. Probably the most famous asset, which is also easy to understand, would be real estate. You can rent it out and get money from it. As long as you earn more from the rent than it costs you to maintain the facility, you have a positive cash flow that does not depend on yourself. Other traditional assets would be a company you own or stocks (that come with some risk).
But we don’t have the money to buy a house! Me neither. Luckily, there are many cheaper assets that you can start working on right now, based on your dance skills.
Examples of this would be online education based on recorded videos instead of live streams. It can also be books, recorded performances that require a fee to watch, templates for papers that people need, stock images of your artwork and whatever you can come up with.
The significant advantage of the income from those assets is its independence from your work. As soon as you have them up, they can sell while you do other things or sleep.
In the final stage (call it your endgame if you want), when your income from assets is higher than your costs of living, you can feed the money back into creating more assets.
How do we get there?
The abstract process to optimise your cash flow is really easy, like with most concepts. You start to build your first assets, which provide a little income. This money either goes directly into creating new assets or covers part of your fixed costs. This gives you a little bit of leverage (time or money) to continue building your reputation and assets. Now you repeat the process until your assets provide for your life.
The execution is not as easy, of course. Let me give you an example based on some real numbers from my own career. Suppose writing books would be the only way I had to create assets. At the moment I have only one book on the market. In the first three months of 2021, the average income through its sales was 91 bucks. Not a lot to write home about.
Let’s do some math. Imagine I have ten of those. Without considering that people who grabbed one book are more likely to buy more, there would be 910 bucks a month. Having 20 would be enough to make a living without doing any other work. Writing 20 books would surely take some time, and neither writing nor reading is for everyone. But in dance, there are way more options than just amassing books to sell. Having the right offer at the right time can make a substantial difference.
Be brave and be bold. Now is the time to make the change and take your financial well-being into your own hands.
In the last weeks, life was a roller coaster. I neglected writing for the blog, the newsletter and promoting the new podcast episodes. Despite not promoting them, I recorded and published. As life is getting a little bit more stable again, meet the Tanzcafé episodes 2-5 with the amazing Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross.
Recently I witnessed the question “Who is fact-checking you?” popping up on Social Media more and more. Not aimed at me, but at good people I follow. That question is a sign of ignorance and misunderstanding of the process. In my opinion, it’s a testament to one of the most underrated issues of our society: the missing ability to check and verify the information yourself.
What is fact-checking?
Fact-checking is an elementary form of research. If you are confronted with new information, you look for the real source of this information. If you get it from someone who just heard/read it somewhere and you don’t know where it comes from, you can not judge if the source is trustworthy. If you find the source, look if the statements make sense. Is it about what someone said in an interview? Check the interview, not an article about someone writing about the interview. About science? Is the source a scientific paper that quotes other sources, or is it a text that is all anecdote and no data?
Depending on what you are fact-checking, the process differs.
Why you need to fact-check yourself
Because you never know the reasons why other people do it. More often than not, so-called fact-checkers are on the payroll of governments, corporations, or NGOs with their own agenda, which is not revealing the truth but supporting their interests. These fact-checkers are just part of the propaganda machine.
If you can’t do it yourself, have someone on your team who can do it, or you lose in the information war.
Here is the absolute basic process if you want to get started with fact-checking yourself.
Check Google and DuckDuckGo for the stuff you want to read about. We use 2 different search engines to rule out algorithmic bias or censorship. You can use any 2 search engines of your choice as long the second is not based on the first. If you can not confirm this info, just go with Google and DuckDuckGo.
See if you can find the original source. Example: if it is about something someone said: try to find a video interview where he did. Then check if the video has been cut at that place. If yes, it might be out of context as it has been edited.
Selling and distributing art has always been a pain in the ass, but blockchain offers a potential solution with NFTs – which stands for Non-Fungible Token. Imagine being able to sell your piece of work, which can be everything that you can bring into the digital space, immediately and worldwide with 100% proof of who created it, who bought and therefore owns it, and built-in mechanics to collect royalties if it is resold. That is the concept behind NFTs.
How does it work?
A blockchain is a list of transactions. When you create an NFT, you summon a token that represents your work in the digital space. This token has a smart contract attached. A smart contract is just a fancy term for a code (a programme) that handles the sales and ownership. If someone buys the work, ownership is transferred (as if you would buy a painting). But the blockchain will forever show that you are the creator. Suppose the new owner decides to sell it again. In that case, the smart contract will automatically send a % of the resell price – defined in the smart contract – to you. No intermediaries needed.
Honestly, not yet. NFTs are slowly drifting into the mainstream, and everyone who gets on board now can be considered an early adopter. Not super early, but still. If you want to use them now, you need to be a little bit tech-savvy and interested in how these things work.
At the moment, NFTs are priced and bought in cryptocurrency. This will likely remain the status quo for a while. But with the rise of NFTs, there will be apps and service providers that will make it easy for everyone to enter the NFT space.
I suggest you get on-board immediately, but I understand if you want to watch the space first. Just don’t sleep on it and miss a potential opportunity that could unleash your work. Early adopters are always the ones who profited most when “their” tech goes mainstream.
My experiences with NFTs
I tried it and created my own NFT. As I can’t record a more significant dance piece right now, I went with a comic that speaks to the crypto-community. I am not a painter myself, so I commissioned the piece. Setting up the contract was a matter of 30 minutes, but I already had a crypto-wallet ready for use.
Until now, I did not run into any issues technically. I am currently promoting the piece on Twitter around crypto-folks and hope someone buys it.
It cost me around 0,17 ETH (which is EUR 230 at the moment of this writing), including the artwork itself and the fees to set up the smart contract.
As my intent is not selling but getting my head around how it works, I priced the token relatively high for what it offers. If someone buys – nice, if not – I have a token that predicts the future of cryptocurrency, created in 2021 – before the whole world started talking about NFTs.
I write a lot about the work and life of a professional dancer. Recently someone asks me when I consider someone to be a professional dancer. Good question. Let’s check it out.
What is a professional dancer?
When we look at the words’ definition only, we conclude that a professional dancer is someone who earns his money with dancing. That’s it if we are looking into terminology and what I use to determine if someone is a pro.
What we associate with the word professional
The word professional is loaded with a lot of meaning that is not really part of the package. Here is a list of things:
better than amateurs
always on time
know exactly what they do
always available for serious work
do everything as long as you pay them
knows how to behave
And the list goes on. All of these can be true but don’t have to be.
There is also a difference in the mindset between two kinds of people who do business with dance. As much as I’d love to avoid this distinction, it often comes back to me in the form of “but he is not a professional dancer” or something that rhymes with it.
The professional dancer and the dance entrepreneur
You can be both, but most peeps aren’t. The regular professional dancers focus absolutely on their craft – the dance. They perform, teach and compete. That is the lifestyle that we love and surrounds the dance when you look at it outside the dance world.
The dance entrepreneurs dance as well, but they look for opportunities outside the dance as well to nurture their business. This can be the addition of work that synergizes with dance or doing jobs where knowing dance is a prerequisite. These could be social influencers, event promoters, corporate consultants, creatives, or health service providers who specialize in dance topics.
When I talk about the dance business, I usually speak about both of those and I would be happy if we would not need to separate those two.
The detail that makes all the difference
For many professional dancers, the perceived challenge is merely finding and doing more dance jobs. They care a lot about the question, “how can I get more dance jobs?” Whatever answer we find to that question is not the answer to building a sustainable and secure lifestyle around dance.
There are 2 particular reasons:
As long as we look for jobs created by others, we are manoeuvring ourselves deeper into dependency and into a territory of pseudo-employment.
If our only income source is the jobs we can do, we have a serious issue if we can’t do these jobs anymore. Injuries, government-regulations, loss of interest of the corporations giving us those gigs, … you name it. Almost everyone in dance knows someone who had to quit due to injuries. We can feel the pain of government regulations as a response to the pandemic right now. So this threat is real.
As an entrepreneur, you know about the importance of having multiple streams of income. Independence is the game, as is getting rid of middle-men where possible. This does not mean we can not do gigs with companies or dance paid shows with others. Both are significant parts of almost every dance business I know. The difference is that we don’t want to depend on them and have enough to offer on our own.
Then dance entrepreneur looks for additional ways to offer value and earn money. It is not important which kind you are, as long as you love what you do and feel secure enough. But when you feel the pain of uncertainty and the need for more stability, try to find additional income sources that synergize with what you do. Because you are leaving money behind and make your life harder than it needs to be.