A famous international teacher wrote this in a public post on facebook today.
Hey y’all, real talk. I have encountered multiple people this week who have never taken classes from me, are not signed up to take classes from me, yet have told me they have seen my class recap videos and been practicing from them. The purpose of my recap videos is to help the people who actually have bothered to become my students and who have shown up to learn from me. Believe it or not, this is my livelihood, I make a living from teaching dance. I sell instructional videos from my website. Undermining that is an incredibly shitty thing to do. The same way I would hope you wouldn’t buy a friend’s band’s CD and then just turn around and burn copies for everyone you know (and would hopefully encourage them to actually support the artist and go buy their own copy), I would hope you would encourage folks to actually come take a class from someone who has built a career doing a thing. The easy option is I just don’t do recap videos anymore (shocking concept, but for much of my dance career, video recaps just weren’t a thing). But I actually care about students’ improvement and would love to provide that as a resource because I think it is helpful (as many folks also seem to), so the option I’d rather pursue is just be respectful of artists. Thanks.
This post was shared by a mutual friend. This was my comment:
I don’t buy this argument at all.
Recap videos are a brilliant way to market a teacher’s skills. They get people gigs, it gets people into workshops at events.
Recap videos often circulate between people who don’t have the money or opportunity to go to big workshops, and they’re an ongoing resource for a local scene. It’s also super common for someone to take a recap video back from a weekend to their home town, and then work on the material with their friends and dance partners (who may not have attended the workshop!) This is how dance knowledge permeates and spreads. It’s also a good strategy for people with low incomes to access knowledge.
To be honest, I have zero problems with people of colour, women, other marginalised folk doing this sort of ‘textual poaching’ from a white man 😃 😃 😃
This is not the same as people filming you while you’re teaching a class. That’s fucked up and not ok.
If you’re not ok with the way video footage circulates in the community, don’t let people film your recaps. Boom.
If you want to capitalise on the fact that your fanbase is sharing videos of you, learning from you, emulating you, get onto it! That is some powerful audience-engagement!
Things you can do:
- Follow up on that conversation with that fan (which, tbh, is a hugely flattering thing for them to do), by saying something like “Oh, that’s so good to hear! We should organise a zoom session so you can ask questions as you work through things! I have pretty reasonable rates, and we can make it work for small groups.” This is effective because this fan is clearly ok with working from a screen (usually a tiny phone screen!), and a zoom session would be a step up! It’s not often that an audience makes their preferred mode of engagement so clear!
- Regard that conversation as a fan being brave enough to approach their hero, and respond with positive enthusiasm. Ask them questions about their dancing, ask them what they liked about the video, and what they’d like to do next. That fan will remember that conversation, take it home, and tell it to zillions of people. That sort of interaction gives teachers a rep as ‘a nice person’ and that rep convinces local organisers to hire teachers. You don’t have to put on a fake cheery persona; just respond like a decent human being to someone who’s telling you (in so many ways) that they think you are amazing.
- Rethink the way you structure your recaps to take advantage of this free circulation and marketing. Add a little intro with details of how to reach you. Limit the content in the recap. Have students dance the recap material instead.
- Don’t do recaps at all, but release them yourself from your own website (or a third party site), where you say to the group: “Give me your email addresses, and you can have access to the recap videos on my website” and then you can garner their email addresses for your marketing!
- Be very clear in your T&C with organisers about recaps and filming them. I personally say to teachers that they are not obliged to do recaps, filmed or otherwise, and I make it very clear to all registrants that teachers may not offer a chance for them to film recaps (ie their registration fee does not cover the chance to film a recap).
The more I thought about this, the angrier I got.
In the replies to his post, where people offer suggestions for monetising or controlling the circulation of this footage, he says “I’m old school. I teach dance classes. Not trying to be a youtube/insta/whatever power user” and then another big name teacher chimes in with “this is great but it’s a lot of – more – work” and this made me furious.
Most of the people who put on events that host these sorts of teachers do it for free. They work very hard to give these teachers work and provide workshops for their local scene. There’s very little money to be made (most people hope to break even, or subsidise with other stuff). It _is_ a lot of work. And they do this _in addition_ to their day jobs, caring for families… and often, teaching weekly dance classes.
To hear a high profile teacher denigrate this type of work makes me VERY ANGRY. And yes, it is lots of work to do this sort of management and promotion. HAVE THEY ONLY JUST REALISED THIS?!
I hear this bullshit from white man musicians all the time. As though being ‘a musician’ means that you just ‘do art’ and the audiences magically come to hear you ‘do art’. NO BITCH, THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. Being a working artist means you WORK. You work on your craft, but sorry, white man, that means doing promotion, profile management, networking, all that distasteful plebean stuff. You also put work into being good at working with others (sound crew, venue managers, promoters, bar staff), you develop a sense of brand or how you want to be promoted, you develop actual promotional material (a bio, some photos, and – god forbid! – a website).
Argh this makes me so, so angry.
Anyway. This is why over the years as an organiser, and as someone who’s also been the ‘talent’, I’ve realised that the ‘talent’ is interchangeable, but the people on the ground who run events, who work the door, set up rooms, and clean up after parties, are the really irreplaceable people.