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Case Study: eighth blackbird Tumbles forward with Tumblr
By Janice Mayer
August 30, 2012
The two-time Grammy Award-winning ensemble eighth blackbird* is known for its bold programming, so it is not surprising that their adventurous spirit would extend to the promotional side of their efforts as well.
Issue: eighth blackbird is creating a new work, Never My Heart, with music composed by Amy Beth Kirsten and direction/choreography by Martha Clarke. eighth blackbird wants to find a vehicle to bring potential audiences inside the development of the project and provide sales support to its manager, David Lieberman Artists’ Representatives, who will be booking a 2013-14 national tour of the work.
Goal: Find a platform to support and promote a new work without limiting the content to Twitter’s 140 characters and Facebook’s extemporaneous content structure. Also, the group was looking
“eighth blackbird has been on Facebook (2,544 Likes) and Twitter (8,827 followers) since the beginning,” said Jen Richards the ensemble’s managing director. But lately, “Twitter has become
Richards added, “Tumblr has opened up a new space for this kind of exploration. Blogs have become formalized, but here I can create a more casual micro-blog that people can follow and share. Tumblr also makes it easy to share media. Though over 150 arts organizations and publications currently have blogs on Tumblr, those represent a small section of the overall arts community.”
Richards said Tumblr’s policy of allowing unlimited content postings and the way it is “easy to combine with our other social media efforts” made Tumblr an attractive service. (Click here for a look at eighth blackbird’s Tumblr efforts.)
Rationale for the technology choice: Musical America contacted Tumblr’s arts outreach specialist, Annie Werner, about Tumblr’s relationship and offerings for the performing arts:
Obstacles: Balancing the creative director’s need for privacy during the fragile development phase of a new work and the organization’s goal to share the process with an interested public and presenters is a delicate dance.
Twitter and Facebook will drive traffic to the Tumblr page, so all social media outlets have to be updated and managed simultaneously.
Cost: Tumblr is free for most of the needs of arts organizations. Customizable themes are complementary and premium themes cost between $9 and $49, which also usually includes customer support. eighth blackbird, for instance, uses the standard theme. Video production
Time & Staffing: Writing and posting blogs, creating and posting videos, and taking and posting images takes organizational staff members’ time, as well as time from the creative team. As a closeknit ensemble, eighth blackbird takes its collaborative chamber music spirit into its partnership with its management. According to Richards, a key element in the selection of its management team was David Lieberman Artists’ Representatives “no fear factor,” which mirrors the “spirit of the eighth blackbird musicians.”
Unlike many small- to mid-sized agencies, David Lieberman Artists Representatives chose to invest in a dedicated onsite marketing specialist, Amanda Bryant, director of marketing and new media: “If I want to send out a well-designed press release the morning after eighth blackbird wins a Grammy, I can do it because my press agent, graphic designer, and social media specialist sit in the office next door.” Taking marketing in-house with Bryant (covering much of
*What’s in a name? “The name ‘eighth blackbird’ derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’s evocative, aphoristic poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917). The eighth
I know noble accents
Janice Mayer’s wide-ranging experience includes positions at the New York City and Metropolitan Operas, The Shubert Organization, Inc., and Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS. A former Manager at CAMI, she founded Janice Mayer & Associates LLC which she ran for over a decade. She is currently collaborating on Caminos del Inka, Inc., Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s Latin American music and recording project.
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