Categories
business

Are NFTs here to revolutionise ART distribution and trading?

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.

Is it really that easy to use NFTs?

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.

In case you are interested, here is my NFT “A Taste of Things To Come.”

Categories
business

What makes a professional dancer?

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
  • comes prepared
  • 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:

  1. As long as we look for jobs created by others, we are manoeuvring ourselves deeper into dependency and into a territory of pseudo-employment. 
  2. 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.

Categories
blog sharing is caring

Book Promotion: Dance Smart – 40% Discount

I am doing a book promotion for Dance Smart, with a nice discount. If you liked Dance Smart and want to use it in your class or simply as a goodie for your students, this might be for you.

Order 10+ paperback copies and you will get 40% discount on the retail price (6 instead of 10 Euro). 

It is up to you if you want to give them out for free, resell for 6 to give your students the benefit of getting them discounted or sell them for 10 and earn 4 Euro per copy.

Dance Smart at the Open Qualifier for Circle Industry 2020. Photo: Christian Poschner

Orders for the book promotion via email only, please. You can’t get the discount when ordering directly at Amazon. You will receive an invoice, shipping is on me.

The promotion is running from Feb 15 until Feb 28 2021. 

#dancesmart #bookpromotion

Categories
blog

Alternative social media to research and connect

Consulting alternative social media is one way to improve your research game. Recently we talked a lot about researching, asking better questions and making your own decisions. If we want to make informed decisions, it’s essential to have access to all information. Algorithms that decide which information to show us and what to withhold are detrimental to this process. Considering this and political censorship, it’s evident that the mainstream social media platforms and big tech search engines are not our friends when we want to see the complete picture.

Luckily, many projects are out there, who try to do a better job by providing decentralized and censorship-free platforms.

Why we need options

As mentioned above, we need alternative social media platforms to access as much information as possible. We need to decide what we want to read, instead of handing over this decision to automated processes or artificial intelligence.

The second reason is the necessity of free speech. If we can’t hear others opinions, we can not include their ideas in our thought process. Even if we disagree with statements, it is imperative to know them if we want to make well-informed decisions. We need to have discussions, even if they are inconvenient.

The disadvantages of alternative social media

The one critical disadvantage of projects competing with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and more is their smaller userbase. It devalues these platforms for doing business. A big user base is beneficial to find new customers or business partners. All the major players are built in a way that benefits businesses and advertising. For the savvy businessperson, that is the purpose of mainstream social media: find your audience and connect with them.

The second major disadvantage is the dark side of an uncontrolled environment – it is not a safe space. Every content is equal. Therefore you will find all kinds of offensive content, extreme and radical opinions that reach from plainly stupid over misanthropic, and straight-up illegal stuff as well as scams that are after your money. On the other hand, all of this is happening on the major platforms as well, you just don’t see it, because you never clicked like on one of those.

These unregulated spaces are a fantastic playground for everyone who is used to think for themselves.

Some basics to know about the tech

I want to clarify some terms that we use in this space, so you are aware of their meaning. Not too much depth and details, but enough to know about its implications.

Open Source projects publish the source code of their applications. Everybody interested can look at the code and evaluate what it does. The projects function is transparent. This transparency usually ensures that there is no hidden malicious code and fewer bugs. The opponents of the Open Source idea suggest that knowing a source code inside out makes it easier to exploit it, but in most projects, the opposite is the case. The communities working on and supporting these projects are effective in making their code secure. If one finds a potential exploit, it is often fixed way faster, than on proprietary systems.

Decentralization means that an application or system runs on many different computers, owned by many different people. In a centralized system, one server or many server clusters are owned by one company or entity. In a centralized system, the entity who controls the servers is in full control – like in a dictatorship. Decentralization works like direct democrazy as no single part of the network can change any rules alone. The strength of a decentralized network is in the number of people participating.

Blockchain is a technology that processes and stores data as a long list of so-called blocks. Usually, things are not deleted but kept forever, and the current status is the result of all blocks that have been added. The most popular use-case for blockchains is cryptocurrency, but we can use it for many things that are not cryptocurrency-related as well.

Here is my list of alternatives for social media in 2021

  1. Minds.com is an alternative to Facebook. Everybody who follows you will have your content in their feed. There are tools to boost your content to people who do not follow you. These boosts work via the Minds Token (ERC20) that you will earn slowly using the network. If you want you can also buy that token, but there is no need. Minds is open source and built on the blockchain.
  2. LBRY/Odysee is a blockchain-based decentralization protocol to host content. It can host all kinds of content, but right now it is primarily a competitor to youtube. There are many projects available, and you can start your own. You can access the LBRY via those apps or in your browser via Odysee.com.
  3. Mastodon is a decentralized, open-source version of Twitter. You can host your own Mastodon server. In that case, you decide if you want to connect it to the global network or run your own small Twitter competitor.
  4. Aether is a peer-to-peer alternative to discussion forums like Reddit. Its focuses on privacy, transparency and democracy. Content is online for six months and then gone forever. If it is important, you better save it. There are moderators on aether who are elected by the community.
  5. Diaspora is one of the oldest decentralized social networks. It is open-source and everyone can host their own version.
  6. DTube is an open-source Youtube clone. It has the same functionality to boost content to non-followers as minds has, and you earn their native crypto token if people consume and like your content.
  7. Bitchute.com is another decentralized Youtube alternative often attacked as a home for right-wing and nazi content. This is a side-effect of being decentralized, not censoring, and can happen on every decentralized platform. Also, there is a rumour of Bitchute not being decentralized. I could not find out if that is true or not.
  8. Signal is an open-source messenger that you can use to replace WhatsApp, the Facebook Messenger or similar candidates.

There are far more options out there than the ones I listed here. I went with the ones that I know personally and found the most useful in my own work. Do your own research and find the platforms that work best for your needs.

Closing thoughts on alternative social media

Be aware that you are entering the wild west of social media. You can find gold or catch a bullet on all of these social media platforms. But so can you on the mainstream ones. It is your responsibility to find the communities that work for you and make your life better.

Also, some of these platforms and apps are not as easy to handle or navigate as their mainstream counterparts. That and the smaller user base are the reason why they are only slowly adopted. But if you care for the information, that should not be an issue.

Categories
blog business

Why you should quit the shitty job you hate

Many people who dance entertain the thought of becoming a professional dancer. If you are working in a job that you don’t like or even despise, you should give it a shot. Here is why.

A job you hate is bad for your soul.

The headline is dramatic, I know, but so is the emotional impact of slaving away at work if you don’t care about it. Deep down, you think that the work you do is not worth doing. You know that there is something more fulfilling or even meaningful for you. If you don’t act on that, some of you (probably your subconsciousness – but I’m no psychologist so take the details with a grain of salt) will tell you that you are a loser, a slave or worse.

To lead a fulfilled life, you need to have the whole you on the team, not a part of you throwing punchlines to your head all the time. Trust me, I have been there, felt that, have quit the job and now life is better.

External stress

Deadlines can be a catalyst for good work if you care about what you do. If you don’t, deadlines create unnecessary and unhealthy stress. Most jobs nowadays consist of holding multiple deadlines a week.

Someone else defines that what you do is urgent, but you disagree because it is simply not important.

Living a life, you don’t care about

If you don’t care for the work you do and are working a regular 9 to 5, you spent most of your life sleeping and doing stuff you don’t care about.

That’s one of the things you should read again.

You can simply test out the waters.

There is no need to quit your job immediately if you feel that dance is calling for you. Start it as a side-hustle and see if you can earn some extra money. If you can, slowly decrease your regular work and increase your dance biz.

The good thing is: if you find out, dance is not for you, you can just quit the side-hustle or go back to a regular job. The commitment is not eternal.

Job security is a lie.

With any given crisis, you can lose your “secure” job as well. So there is no need to pretend it is more secure than doing what you love.

Build your vision

You either build your vision or help someone else build theirs. So you always help to make something. What reason is there to help to create something you don’t identify with. What reason is there to slave away in a job you hate?

You owe it to yourself.

You should treat yourself with enough respect to a least try doing something you love. You don’t want to look back at your life and wonder “what if I had become a pro dancer”, do you?

Categories
blog

Book Recommendations for the start of 2021

If you want to start the year with some reading, I have a list of book recommendations that I really enjoyed in 2020. Maybe there is something in there for you as well.

  1. Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.
    If you have children or are teaching children in a class, this is a book for you. The content is invaluable, but it is a little bit difficult to read because the authors repeat the same topics over and over. Still my number one book for this year.
  2. The Practice: Shipping Creative Work.
    The motivational kick-in-the-ass for creatives who are eager to make a difference with their own work that matter.
  3. The Neuromancer Trilogy.
    That one is fiction. If you like the stories of the Matrix, this one is perfect. Neuromancer is widely considered as the birth of the Cyberpunk genre.
  4. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.
    The right read for people who want to explore spirituality from a scientific point of view. Free of dogmatism.
  5. Japanese Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library).
    A collection of tales and mythical stories. Full of metaphors about life.
  6. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
    An eye-opener in financial education. While I consider this book an absolute must-read, there is no need to read the others from Robert Kyosaki. Almost everything comes back to the principles explained here.
  7. Cryptocurrency – A Trader’s Handbook: A Complete Guide On How To Trade Bitcoin And Altcoins.
    If you are interested in the techy domain of cryptocurrency and how it can become a valuable asset in your life: don’t leave this one on the shelf.

The links above are affiliate links. If you buy one of the recommended books via Amazon, I get a small part of what you pay as a provision. The price for you stays the same but it supports me and my work. That would be much appreciated.

Categories
dance concepts dance espresso

Why we need to separate creation from evaluation

Why do many people get stuck when they try to create new moves or routines? The answer is simple, but its impact is often underestimated, and therefore, people tend to ignore it. Creation and evaluation (analysis, assessment) are very different processes:

In creation mode, you want the ideas to flow freely.
Creativity is what you need.

In evaluation mode, you need to analyse your results from creation.
Logic is taking the lead here.

A popular scientific theory says that different sides of your brain are responsible for these two different tasks. And they don’t work well together. So if you try to do both at the same time, you are doing both inefficiently.

I can not comment if this theory is right or not, because I lack the scientific understanding. But I know that I work better when I only create at one time and judge later.

When you get stuck in your creation process, try to get rid of the voice in your head that wants to evaluate immediately. Film yourself and do that later. You will see the differences.

And finally, let’s grab a Dance Espresso over this topic:

Categories
business dance espresso

How to maintain a great signal to noise ratio?

When we talk about marketing, one of the things we should be aware of is our Signal/Noise ratio. The metaphor refers to a technical issue from analog radio broadcasts. When you communicate via radio, you have to listen on the same frequency as the sender is broadcasting and vice versa. If you are slightly off the frequency, you hear the broadcast but with a lot of hisses. If you are far away from the frequency you receive either only hiss, aka noise, or another signal (that you are not looking for).

Let’s grab a Dance Espresso over that topic:

What does Signal/Noise ration mean as a metaphor?

In times of social media, we all broadcast continuously with our posts, likes, shares, tweets, and whatever. If we are smart with our marketing strategy, and if we know our goals and artist identity, we aspire to send a lot of signal, while avoiding to add noise. Signal would be everything that aligns with our purposes, the message we want to spread, and the thing we want to be associated with. Noise is everything that has nothing to do with our signal or even distracts from it.

An example: when we want to spread a message about dancing, choreographing, and traveling the world, everything that is about our dancing and seeing exciting places works as a signal. But posting our daily coffee is a distraction, as are videos from our cats. Those two would be adding noise.

Who defines what noise is?

You do. Only you decide what it is that you want to “broadcast” to the world. It’s not essential what you send out if you only have a private channel and want to connect with friends. But as soon as your social media channels are part of your business, defining and sticking to your signal matters. It’s part of your promise to the world.

How much noise is fine?

Again, that is a question that only you can answer. It depends heavily on what strategy you have to connect with your followers. Noise is everywhere on the frequency spectrum, so it might help you to reach people you might not reach without it. But noise also waters down the value of your broadcast for everyone who is looking for your signal. As a rule of thumb: When you want to be perceived as an expert in your field and it is a niche, keep the noise level low. If you want to reach a broad audience, the noise percentage can be higher. If it’s not possible to differentiate between signal and noise, the noise is too high.

When I released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am did a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios sucked. I gradually improved that over 2020 but I am still not there

Categories
business

How brutal honesty improves your artistic growth

Brutal honesty sounds like an evil thing. But in reality, it is a state of mind that will calibrate your expectations and help you to plan your next steps more accurate, which will lead to faster growth in your art, business and character.

Honesty is telling the truth to ourselves and others. Integrity is living that truth.

Kenneth H. Blanchard

Unrealistic self-talk is sabotage

Sadly, I know too many people who have an unrealistic image of their capabilities and skills. This issue goes both ways and is rarely a matter of the wrong point of view. We have those who think they are really good or even exceptional at something, while barely scratching the surface. On the other hand, some people don’t trust their skills enough and put themselves down while doing outstanding work.

Both of these extremes are unhealthy for the development of your craft and character. Being able to execute ten footwork steps with two different rhythms does not make one good at footwork. It means you should invest more time into it, to make it out of beginner territory. And doubting your performance abilities, when your dance reaches strangers emotionally is stupid as well. If you can do that, develop it further and be proud that you can have such an impact on stage.

Brutal honesty only hurts in the short-term

When you are honest with yourself and admit weaknesses, you can build a path of action based on a realistic starting point. This will lead to much faster results, than plotting your journey from a moment you did not even reach yet. 

You might feel uncomfortable by accepting that you are not as advanced as you are in a particular field. Still, the immediate improvement of your onwards journey, due to realistic expectations, will make up for it and bring you to a much brighter place in the long game.

Also, you decide how harsh or gentle your self-talk is. Honesty is not related to the tone of voice you apply.

You don't need a crystal ball to map out your future, being brutally honest about your starting point, will do as well.
photo: Tomas Kirvėla via Scopio

Brutal honesty is not the enemy of affirmations or self-motivation

When you are realistic about your situation, there is nothing wrong in positive self-talk and affirming yourself that you can achieve something. The step from self-delusion to trying to motivate yourself to do better is in knowing your current situation. Affirmations should help yourself to believe you can achieve something, not to cloud your judgment.

Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth the trying.

Fred Rogers

Brutal honesty with others

When we talk to others, the case is similar. If we genuinely care about someone, we should not add to their delusion. In the long term, we do them a much bigger favour, if we tell them the truth and help them grow instead of reassuring them in a wrong image of their selves.

Considering we know these people well, we can tune the tone of our words to their emotional state and give nice suggestions instead of harsh critique.

Categories
blog

Breaking at Olympia 2024: What will happen?

On December 7, 2020, the IOC officially approved breaking as a discipline at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. That’s exciting news for competitive breaking, but the dance scene is ambivalent about it. There is widespread concern that the essence of our dance might get lost, once it gets drawn into the world of sports.

The risk of breakdance being part of the Olympic Games

The biggest fear that is around in the dance scene is that breaking will become detached from its cultural roots and the bigger part of the world will perceive it as an acrobatic form of sports, instead of an art form that goes hand in hand with cultural values. There is nothing we can say to debunk this claim. That is a possibility, but it is not inevitable.

How the wider public (outside the dance scene) perceives breaking will depend on how the competitions are judged and who the judges will be. If we are honest about this point, there is no difference to events that are happening right now. Depending on the judges panel, the character of events changes a lot.

Also, the mainstream media and therefore, the majority of people worldwide already perceive our dance as acrobatics and not a dance. When we ask random people about breaking, they have no idea what we mean. When we ask about breakdance, they know it is about spinning on your head.

The advantages of breaking at Olympia

With breaking becoming an Olympic discipline, its exposure will be much bigger. As mentioned before, there lies the risk of creating the wrong image in many minds. But if you pay attention to the discussion and the signs that Olympia sends out, they at least try to do it right. They call it Breaking instead of Breakdance, even though the majority of people are not familiar with that name. So they are, at least, aware of the responsibility.

The bigger exposure will create a lot of opportunities for dancers to earn more money and educate the public (if they choose to do so). The older generation will be able to judge and share their view about dance and culture. The young generation will have an additional platform to test their skills. This platform will most likely be the one with the most attention when we count eyeballs. This attention will lead to even more brands and sponsors come on-board for breaking, which opens up opportunities for people to make a living from breaking.

Will breaking change because of its inclusion into the Olympic Games?

Yes and No. We will see an increased focus on the athletic aspects of the dance. The young generation is already pushing the boundaries of what can be done. Olympia will only speed up this development, but it is not its sole reason. Breaking has always been a phenomenon living in the twilight between art and sports, and the aspect that caught people’s initial attention was the acrobatics. This will not change.

The jams, battles and gatherings were we celebrate the culture will not go away, just because there is an additional platform. Underground events that are true to the culture will still be around, and they are not competing with sports competitions. It will be in the power and responsibility of all the b-girls and b-boys participating in significant sports events, like Olympia, to represent our culture appropriately. This includes competitors, but also judges, consultants and even visitors who are familiar with the culture.

Manny talked to Red Bull BC One 2020 E-Battle Champ and World Final Runner-Up Madmax about the balance between being an athlete and an artist. Also, Tracy interviewed Ayane, talking about her point of view when thinking about Paris 2024. I highly recommend you read them both.

We need to play it smart instead of being stubborn

If we want to stay relevant in this thing, we need to play it smart, instead of insisting on being right because we were there before Olympia and other big players. There is a lot to do around big competitions with worldwide participation and media coverage. And we (as people that live in and love the scene) are not good at these things yet, because we never deemed them essential.

I am talking about commentators, analysts, documentation, physical and mental training methods, coaching, mentoring, own independent media coverage – no matter if it is written, video or audio – and many more things that are part of any big competition. People that cover sports for decades have that shit down, and we are just getting started. Of course, some single individuals and companies play the game already, but as a whole scene, we don’t. This could become an issue as people with no interest in the culture would coin the public opinion.

It is up to us to develop the abilities to fill as many of these needed roles as possible. Even for dancers that don’t compete, there are opportunities to bring their expertise and do jobs linked to their passion. Some might even find out that these new opportunities suit them better than competing themselves. The potential to make it happen is there. But it will be a rough ride to level up fast enough to be ready for the competition in 2024. One question remains: Is it important enough for us to try, or will we stay on the sidelines and hate about others making their moves?