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Summer 2003 edition

Greetings, and welcome to the VAN Report, summer 2003 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 Features, new Calendar form, Download-This-Event
  • UPDATE ON ONGOING FEATURES / SERVICES: Sustaining Membership, VAN Ads, VANupdate, Concert Calendar, Choir Directory, Choir Auditions, Info Exchange
  • WHAT WE ASK IN RETURN
  • IN THE WORKS

WORDS OF THANKS

As always, 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 are highly 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 to grow, 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 VAN Ads program.

NEW FEATURES / SERVICES

Last August, we redesigned the VAN home page, primarily to put more fresh--and original--information "above the fold." And so we did. We ran twelve VAN Features this past year--interviews, profiles and previews--a solid start in fulfilling our goal of offering more coverage of the vocal ensemble community in and around New York. Here they are:

Thanks to all the authors who contributed to our first season of features. We're hoping to do more this year. If you'd like to contribute a feature article, just drop us a note outlining your proposed story. Chances are good we'll approve it. A feature article is a great way to get exposure for your group--and a great opportunity to see your name on a byline.

Oh, yes. The August 2002 redesign also introduced a reorganized set of navigation tools along the left panel, enhanced with explanatory bits that pop up when you move your mouse over the links.

In May, we introduced a new form by which you can submit listings for the Concert Calendar. Though we continue to accept listings via e-mail, our new listing form requires much less labor on our part to enter your submissions into the Concert Calendar database. We encourage you to give the new form a try.

In November, we introduced the Download-This-Event feature of the VAN Concert Calendar. This feature allows you to download information about an event of interest directly into your computer's calendar software. It works with Microsoft Outlook, Palm Desktop, Lotus Organizer and other vCalendar-aware calendar programs.

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 Members, The Dessoff Choirs and the Grace Church Choral Society; our Silver Sustaining Member, the Greenwich Village Singers; and our other Sustaining Member ensembles: Americas Vocal Ensemble, AmorArtis, The Brooklyn Community Chorus, Cantabile Chamber Chorale, Cerddorion, Chorus 802, Christ Church Choir, Douglas Frank Chorale, Lehman College and Community Chorus, New Amsterdam Singers, The New Choral Society, New York Choral Society, Russian Chamber Chorus of New York, Sacrum Convivium and Women Singing. 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.

VAN Ads, our banner advertising offering, continues to offer a great marketing opportunity for the vocal ensemble community. An affordably priced banner 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. 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. Since the program's inception, 36 different advertisers have placed a total of 74 ads. Here’s what Christine Hoffman, music administrator for the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series at the Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola, says about VAN Ads: "Lots of bang for the buck. We realized that we could advertise our entire five-concert season--and have our programs in front of the very concentrated VAN audience almost continuously--for $175.00, less than the cost of just one ad almost anywhere else." See if the VAN Ads program fits into your marketing plans. Visit www.van.org/advertise.htm for details.

VANupdate, our twice monthly e-mail newsletter highlighting the latest additions to the site, continues to gain new subscribers, albeit rather slowly. 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. And since October, the calendar section of VANupdate has included all listings for the upcoming half-month in addition to items newly posted to the calendar.

The VAN Concert Calendar (www.van.org/vancal.htm) listed 835 vocal ensemble events in the New York metropolitan area between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2003, up from 579 last year. We’re well into posting events for the 2003-2004 season, 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 275 choral organizations, up from 230 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. 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, 198 groups are represented here, up from 154 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--remember, Choir Auditions ads are color-coded by age. (Freshest ads gets two green squares. Oldest ads get two red squares.) 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, 2002 and June 30, 2003, we posted 85 ads from groups (up from last year), 50 ads from individuals (down from last year) and 50 ads for services or employment (about the same as last year).

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:

  • 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.
  • Print and distribute the 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.
  • 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. Our Download-This-Event feature was developed because of a site visitor's suggestion.

Of current concern is the harvesting by spammers of e-mail addresses from our Choir Directory and Choir Auditions pages. We'd like to retain the convenience of e-mail communications from legitimately interested parties (like prospective singers) but without generating the torrents of unwanted (and in some cases, unsafe) e-mail that many of you may have been receiving from the contact addresses published on the site. If you have remedies to offer, we're listening.

We're also looking at reworking the way we list Sustaining Members on our Sustaining Membership page. Our goal is to recognize Sustaining Members who have made contributions within the current year while continuing to acknowledge the support received from Sustaining Members in previous years.

That’s all for now. Thanks for your support. Enjoy the waning days of 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)
Association of Connecticut Choruses; OrganFocus.com, "the source for pipe organ music events, concerts and recitals worldwide"; Friendship Ambassadors, providers of specialized performance tours; Linda Angelis, tao musician, inspirational jazz singer and radio presenter from England; Finger Lakes Choral Festival, held in August in Canandaigua, NY; Vendini, provider of online ticketing solutions for small to medium sized organizations; NY1 News; An Introduction to Singing, an online course with instructor Kristen Widenmaier; Ten and Change, a New York-based male a cappella ensemble; RoDeby Music, maker of training aids to "assist choirs in becoming note perfect"; Artsnet, an information clearinghouse of arts management resources on the internet, run by the Center for Arts Management & Technology at Carnegie-Mellon; SheetMusicNow.com; Beatboxer Entertainment; Breck Alan's The Art of Body Singing; Editions SalabertSchirmer/AMP; Shawnee Press; Chester Music / Novello & Company; Music Sales Group (parent of G. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, Chester-Novello); Boosey & Hawkes; Hal Leonard; Music Dispatch; Sheet Music Online; Sheet Music Direct; Breitkopf & Härtel; TriangleSings!, a VAN-like site focusing on vocal ensemble music in North Carolina’s Wake, Durham, Orange and surrounding counties; Musica Sacra; Jaymar.com, an e-commerce music store specializing in choral music; MetropoliTONES, a Manhattan-based all-women a cappella ensemble; musicnotes.com, offering digital sheet music, traditional music books, single sheets and more; mymusicindex.com, a quick-reference, informational music resource designed for music educators; Laurendale Associates and the Laurendale Associates' Black Folder; beatboxing.com, all about beatboxing and urban a cappella; Peter Schickele / P.D.Q. Bach; and The RDM Company, a Texas-based artist management company.


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Content Contact: Steve Friedman.
Revision Date: April 07, 2007.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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