Saturday, May 10, 2008

Promotional CDs and DVDs: Is it worth making one?

Folks in the storytelling world were debating spending money on producing a DVD. In my humble opinion expensive demo CDs ( I am all for making CDs as albums and works of art) and DVDs are not necessary anymore. Especially a professionally taped/produced DVD, unless you have loads of bucks burning holes in your pockets. Your own homemade dvd without a professionally designed cover with good graphics, in a standard case will not be taken seriously. You cannot even give such an item away to libraries. Few people will accept a CD to put in their computers from a stranger (I am thinking cold call here). Most commercial festivals insist on a sonicbids account to apply. People will not take attachments in their emails either. The way around this is to post your work on the web and send emails. And I make phone calls before I even send emails - so many venues have outdated contact information. Not hearing back does not mean someone is ignoring you. You may not have gotten that far.

A short, punchy email with links like the ones in this post is the best. When prospective presenters see the links in email and are interested enough to look at your posted materials, they may request more. If they do request more, simple demo CDs are easier than ever to make on your home computer.

I feel a much better "investment" than an expensively produced DVD is a free youtube channel and a sonicbids membership. These create web presence and are worth their weight in gold ( of course they do not actually weigh anything ). Files uploaded to the web allow perspective presenters to see your work with a simple "click". As for audio on the web, many of us are already on, yes? And no? Or, like many New England tellers, are you still putting off turning your cassette tape into digital files ? Mp3s are a must. Go
to and check out some of the links for information on how to do this.

As for youtube, you must have access to or own a digital video camera. These are not as expensive as they once were. Mine works fine and cost under $300. It is a Canon zr800 and uses DV tape and downloads right into my computer via fire wire. I chose it because it has a mic in jack so , one day I will be able to get high quality audio with the video. One must have an up to date computer and software to do simple edits of your video. I use a Macbook - the best equipment investment I made in my professional career after my portable sound system. One must have a high speed internet access or a fave cafe where you can bring your laptop and use their wifi. This is what I did when I started with video on the web last year. I sat in Toscaninis in Cambridge where I edited and uploaded some clips of my live performances.

The easiest and cheapest way to keep all this web presence together is a blog. It is a multimedia and free mini-website that you manage. I use
In this way we can have complete and flexible control over our material and the ability to add and subtract to our web presence with a few keystrokes.

But, you may say - What???? Are you nutz? We cannot afford a $1200 computer and $300 video camera and all the necessary connecting cables and the like. Agreed. Many people have an adequate computer already. But if you do not, I understand. A new enough computer was beyond my budget or ability to use for many years too. Finally, I put one on a credit card, something I NEVER do. Then I took lessons in computer skills and studied hard all the while trying to do things on my own. Now I have a "One on One" lesson account at Apple for my computer. Up to 52 lessons in a year and it cost only $100. Adult Ed classes are also good. Paying someone to come to your house to teach you is also a good idea. Another great investment.

I have an idea though. If groups of 3-5 compatible tellers join together, you can buy or pool equipment and learn to use it and encourage and motivate each other to create. Or small groups could go to cable access stations and learn to shoot and edit video using their material as the "talent" for the "shows" cable stations need. Basically, I am suggesting there be many small coops with in guilds, state organizations and regional groups....I'd like to try to help organize something like this for folks. But that is another idea and will have to wait for another post.
th-th-th- that's all folks,