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Summer 2002 edition

Greetings, and welcome to the VAN Report, summer 2002 edition, covering the past year’s developments at Vocal Area Network (www.van.org), New York’s home for vocal ensemble music.

In this note:

  • WORDS OF THANKS
  • NEW FEATURES / SERVICES: VAN Ads; site search
  • UPDATE ON ONGOING FEATURES / SERVICES: Sustaining Membership, VANupdate, Concert Calendar, Choir Directory, Choir Auditions, Info Exchange
  • WHAT WE ASK IN RETURN
  • IN THE WORKS

WORDS OF THANKS

First of all, thanks to all who have contributed information and listings to the Vocal Area Network web site over the past season. Your positive comments (see www.van.org/feedbackhighlights.htm for samples) indicate that VAN’s information-sharing services continue to be valued by the New York area vocal ensemble community (singers, groups and their audiences). We’re proud of the quantity and quality of the information we offer, and we couldn’t deliver it nearly as well without your ongoing participation. We’d also like to recognize all those who have helped spread the word about VAN. The number of site visitors continues its upward trend, thanks certainly to solid word-of-mouth. And very special thanks to the ensembles and individuals who have provided financial support through the Sustaining Membership program and through the new VAN Ads program.

NEW FEATURES / SERVICES

VAN Ads, our banner advertising offering, debuted in November. Despite death-knells being sounded for internet advertising, we think we’ve got a persuasive offering for the vocal ensemble community. Newspaper and radio advertising cost big bucks; you’re paying for a lot of readers and listeners who aren’t necessarily interested in vocal ensemble music. Visitors to the Vocal Area Network site, on the other hand, are very much interested. An affordably priced ad on VAN, supplementing (not replacing) your free listings, makes your marketing dollars go farther. A mere $35 gets you up to 2,500 impressions of your ad. (Printing and mailing flyers will cost you a good deal more.) And your ad can be linked to your web site or even to your listing on VAN. Since the program started, 20 different advertisers have placed a total of 35 ads. See if the VAN Ads program fits into your marketing plans. Visit www.van.org/advertise.htm for details.

Looking for stuff on VAN? You can now search the Vocal Area Network site; our search service is provided by Google. The search box is located for now near the bottom of the home page.

UPDATE ON ONGOING FEATURES / SERVICES

Vocal Area Network's information-sharing services have always been and will continue to be provided free for the benefit of the vocal ensemble community. You’re probably wondering how we can do that. Much of our financial support comes from our Sustaining Membership program, which encourages ensembles and individuals who derive value from our free offerings to help defray some of the costs of providing those services. In other words, VAN saves you money, time and effort, so you share some of the savings with VAN. After all, your group’s marketing budget goes farther when you take advantage of VAN's services. An ongoing ad on the Choir Auditions page draws more qualified singers than a one-time posting in the newspaper--and it can be updated throughout the year. Listings in the VAN Concert Calendar help you connect with more of your target audience. And the Info Exchange comes in handy when there's a special need to fill. Group Sustaining Members are recognized on the Sustaining Membership page and, depending on the membership level, on other pages around the site. Payments can be made online using PayPal or the Amazon Honor System or by good old-fashioned check. Details can be found on the Sustaining Membership page (www.van.org/membership.htm). We especially thank our Gold Sustaining Member, The Dessoff Choirs, along with our other Sustaining Member ensembles: Americas Vocal Ensemble, AmorArtis, Cantabile Chamber Chorale, Cerddorion, Chorus 802, Douglas Frank Chorale, New Amsterdam Singers, The New Choral Society, New York Choral Society, Sacrum Convivium and the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. We hope you’ll join these groups and others in the community who have already become VAN Sustaining Members. And we encourage our current Sustaining Members to renew their support for the coming season.

Since May, VANupdate, our twice monthly e-mail newsletter highlighting the latest additions to the site, has been handled entirely in-house rather than via Yahoo!Groups. Our subscriber list has grown by 50% since the change—perhaps because the only information you need to share with VAN is your e-mail address. Visit our Lists page at www.van.org/lists.htm, view a sample VANupdate and sign up to get the latest news items, new site features, the most recent postings to the VAN Concert Calendar and the latest updates to the Choir Auditions page, the Choir Directory and the Info Exchange.

The VAN Concert Calendar (www.van.org/vancal.htm) listed 579 vocal ensemble events in the New York metropolitan area between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002, about the same number we listed last year. Concert Calendar listings now indicate the general locale of the event (e.g. Manhattan, Nassau, Connecticut). We’ve already started posting events for the 2002-2003 season (see the preview calendar at www.van.org/vancalnext.htm), so send in your listings. People who want to find concerts involving singers know that the VAN Concert Calendar is the best place to find them, uncluttered by all the other worthy cultural events going on about town. And VAN Ads are a great way to attract even more interest in your events.

The Choir Directory (www.van.org/choirdirectory.htm) continues to grow and currently lists 230 choral organizations, up from 181 last year. Web sites, rehearsal night and neighborhood, size, director, contact information, links to the Choir Auditions page—it’s all there in the directory, making it easy for choral singers to find the group of their dreams. Choirs by Night (www.van.org/choirsbynight.htm), a companion to the Choir Directory, lists choirs by the nights on which they rehearse and groups them by state (NY/NJ/CT) as well. In January, we enhanced our New York choir listings to include more specific locale information, and the New York entries in Choirs by Night are now sorted by locale, too. We encourage you to check your group’s listing in the Choir Directory and send us additions, corrections and updates.

Recruiting singers? Groups listed in our Choir Directory are entitled to an audition ad on our Choir Auditions Page (www.van.org/choirauditions.htm). Singers from all over the New York metropolitan area know that Vocal Area Network is the best place to find audition information from area choirs. Currently, 154 groups are represented here, up from 107 last year. Sure, you can still take out an expensive, tiny ad in The New York Times that runs once or twice and then disappears. We think (and hope you’ll agree) that we’ve got a better deal: a free ad on the Choir Auditions Page that keeps your group’s name in the minds of potential singing members throughout the year.  One request: please help us keep audition ads up-to-date. Fresh ads are more noticeable and attractive, especially now that Choir Auditions ads are color-coded by age. Competition for the most desirable singers is intense; an up-to-date audition ad is among your most powerful—and cost-effective—marketing tools. Want your auditions to get more attention? Buy a VAN Ad to supplement your free listing.

Our Info Exchange (www.van.org/infoexch.htm) features postings from groups and individuals looking to make singing connections and from parties offering services and employment opportunities. Between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002, we posted 72 ads from groups, 75 ads from individuals and 49 ads for services or employment.

And our Links Collection (www.van.org/links.htm) continues to grow and improve. For highlights of the past year’s additions, see the Appendix at the end of this document. Continue to let us know if you find links that don’t work and, as always, we welcome suggestions for new additions to the collection.

We heartily encourage you and your group to become active contributors of information. Visit the web site, see what we offer and take advantage of our free information-sharing services. Your group and the entire metropolitan-area vocal ensemble community will benefit.

WHAT WE ASK IN RETURN

Vocal Area Network’s information-sharing services are provided free for the benefit of the vocal ensemble community. Here’s what we ask in return.

Join the Sustaining Membership program. Your voluntary financial support keeps VAN’s services available and free.

Place VAN Ads. Promote your auditions, concerts, CDs and services. At $35 for up to 2,500 impressions, it’s a deal that can’t be beat. Photocopying 2,500 flyers will cost $100 (at 4 cents a page). Sending 2,500 postcards will set you back $575 (and that’s just for postage, now 23 cents a pop). And a newspaper or radio ad will cost you even more.

Patronize our affiliate vendors. VAN continues its affiliations with Amazon.com (books, CDs, videos and more); Mainely A Cappella (vocal ensemble CDs); Sheet Music Plus (sheet music, songbooks and musicians' gear); J&R Music (CDs, audio/video equipment, computers); Lands' End (clothing); and Dell (computers, peripherals and software). VAN receives a referral fee on everything you purchase. Just start your shopping at our site and you'll be supporting VAN at no additional cost to you.

Contribute information. Send us your concert listings, audition ads, postings for the Info Exchange and news about your organization. As always, we assure timely response and fast posting.

Help spread the word. If more people know about Vocal Area Network, we all benefit. More site visitors means better visibility for your group and the entire vocal ensemble community. How can you help? Here are a couple of ways:

  • Print and distribute the new VAN Card to your members and your audiences. It’s available for download on our Spread the Word page at www.van.org/promo/spreadtheword.htm. (You’ll need a copy of Adobe’s Acrobat Reader to view and print it, available at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.)
  • Add a reciprocal link to Vocal Area Network (www.van.org) in a prominent spot on your group’s web site. You’re welcome to use the VAN logo for your link. You’ll find an appropriately-sized version at the bottom of every page in the site except the home page.
  • Mention Vocal Area Network in your concert programs. For example: “For more information about vocal ensemble music in the New York area, visit Vocal Area Network (www.van.org).” Or, “XYZ Group supports Vocal Area Network (www.van.org), New York’s home for vocal ensemble music.” If your group becomes a Sustaining Member, we’ll send you a VAN Sustaining Member logo. Even better, insert the VAN Card.
  • If you have contacts in the media, make sure they know about VAN. A little media coverage of the site and of vocal ensemble music couldn’t hurt.
  • Speak kindly of Vocal Area Network, as so many of you have already done, especially if you meet singers who are new to New York.

IN THE WORKS

We’re always looking to develop new services for our constituents. We welcome your ideas. The search tool was added in response to one of your suggestions!

Since there’s currently so little coverage of vocal ensemble music in the general media, we hope to start filling that void by producing more original content. In August, you’ll see an interview with Nicholas White, organist and choirmaster at St. Michael’s Church. And we hope to have more interviews, features and previews in the coming months. We’re even going to make over the home page to better highlight our new content. If you’re interested in writing about vocal ensemble goings-on in the New York area, we could sure use the help. (It’s great exposure for you as a writer and good PR for your group, too.) So drop us a note…or a finished article.

And we’re investigating technology that will enable you to click on an event in the Concert Calendar and add it directly to your PC calendar. We think it’s a nifty idea.

That’s all for now. Thanks for your support. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and do keep in touch.

Regards,

Steve Friedman
Vocal Area Network
steve.friedman@van.org

About VAN: Vocal Area Network was founded in 1995 to promote vocal ensemble music of all sorts in and around the New York City area. Though we’ve produced events of our own in past years, our focus today is on our web site where we provide a variety of information-sharing services for the vocal ensemble community. For more about Vocal Area Network, visit www.van.org/aboutVAN.htm.

APPENDIX: Highlights of the past year’s additions to the Links Collection (www.van.org/links.htm)
Target Travel, a specialist in choir tours to Italy and Europe; Musica Mundi, producer of international choir competitions and festivals; StonaLink Music Competition Database; Idaho International Choral Festival, held in July in Pocatello, ID; Oxford Summer Institutes at Lehigh: Institute on Choral and Vocal Music; CreativeVoices, offering workshops in improvisation; NewMusicBox, the web magazine from the American Music Center, focused on new music; Earthsongs, publisher of world choral music, books and CDs; Tara Publications (Jewish recordings, music books, books and software); Oxford University Press; Handlo Music, with 4,500 choral scores, delivered via e-mail; Choral Sheet Music Download Sites, provided by the Festival Singers of Wellington (NZ); Net4Music (downloadable sheet music); the Bagaduce Music Lending Library; Gospel Singing.com and GospelChoirs.com; Conductors Club and Associated Male Choruses of America; Backstage; American Composers Forum (New York chapter) and Amateur Chamber Music Players; Vox Novus, a New York-based site sponsoring and encouraging new music; WNYC, WQXR and NYC.gov, the official New York City website; NYC Music Places, New York City's only Internet database of available rehearsal and performance spaces for instrumental and vocal musicians; Events-nyc.com, featuring entertaining, educational, exciting and unusual events for the exploring visitor; Central Park Conservancy's Official Central Park website; the A Cappella Foundation, educating the public and broadening awareness of the rich cultural history and art of a cappella music; the annual East Coast Summit; The Applause Show (Thursday nights on WVRM in Montclair, NJ) and A Cappella Always, an all a cappella Internet radio station; San Francisco Bay Area Choral Archive, listing choruses of Northern California; Vocal.dk, a site for Danish choirs, conductors and singers; Concert Artists Guild, dedicated to launching the careers of young classical musicians; The Black Folder, "the world's best choral folder"; Music Memorabilia, offering records, sheet music, photographs, books, magazines, posters from the 1800s to the 1980s; Musica Trinitatis, the concert series at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on West 82nd Street; Haystack Needle, Townsend Belisle's concert producing firm; and the National Choral Council.


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Content Contact: Steve Friedman.
Revision Date: August 31, 2005.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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