"Oh hi reader. Come on in. You are just in time for the first meeting of Musea - the business. We are trying to start a company to support independent art and artists. But first we have to crunch some numbers, send ideas up the flagpole - see if anyone salutes, and drink coffee through an all nighter of brain storming - which is just... about... to begin ...
(Reader sits down at conference table in Dallas, as Musea's editor calls the meeting to order)
"Everyone! Everyone! Come to order (Knock, knock - gavel, gavel) for this first meeting of Musea the business. Welcome all interested parties.
There are 2 groups of artists out there; independent and corporate (or the Big 10: see www.thenation.com/big10). The Big 10 have a monopoly on everything in the arts and media, and its time for that to stop. We need to support independent art and artists and give them a fair chance. Independent media too.
We also need some money to make that happen. Here's how we can do both. Expand the Musea website:
by turning it into a major all arts review site where, for a fee, any artist of any kind can get a fair review of their work and even post a sample. Or in other words anyone can 'Audition for the World" and get a fair review guaranteed. But first ..."
"Boss, (says my secretary) An important call from Scott Crow, Sacremento. Will you take it?"
"Yes (hand over mouthpiece) Scott's a kingpin of sensibility and common sense. (Back to phone) Scott what's up? I'm putting you on speaker phone."
"(About) the "Musea Crunches Numbers" issue, a key is to show your readers the value and benefit to artists of your number crunching. The burden is on you to show them there is a value to doing Musea as a (main) net portal. Why should they back you? How are you different in your plan? Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what argument would win you over. The bankruptcy courts are full of dot.com failures...Why should your readers hear you out? Hard questions, I know."
"Thanks Scott. Those are questions we need to answer. Stay for the meeting if you can. Can you hear us ok? ... OK."
"We also must find venture capital to make this happen. Scott, what do you know about V.C.?"
"They're looking for a good profitable venture to invest in, a loan that will bring them returns. And, frankly, the artists who would (ask for a review or) post their work on your gallery DESERVE to know your website has some solid structure and backing behind it. They'd want to know their hard-earned dollars would be well-spent on your site. So your business plan would have to be proven to them, too. They wouldn't give you their art and $ just because you claim to be a true indie voice, right?"
"That's true, We've got to commit to the biz before any artist will want to commit to us. And to commit to the biz we'd have to get venture capital . Musea alone does not have the resources to do any of this by itself (reality check: staff = me and volunteer webmaster, Donna).
Which brings us to our major dilemma:
If we charge the artist too little (or give reviews for free) we would probably get many artists but no venture capitalists would support us because there would not be any profits. And the biz plan would fold before it began.
On the other hand, if we charge the artist too much, no artist would pay that and no venture capitalists would support a biz that doesn't have any customers.
Our goal then is to find a middle ground, a place where a fair fee could be charged for any artist that needed a fair review (and/or a place on the net to post samples of their work). Then we would make a reasonable profit, support a lot of artists and sustain the venture capital partner with returns on his investment. It's a tight rope of middle ground!"
Here's what we could offer artists for a fee (It is also how we would make our profits)
1. Review your art work (any kind - see list) on one of 2 levels: a) amateur, b) professional. Your choice.
2. Post a single page website of your art for 1 year on the Musea website for a 1 time yearly fee.
An amateur review would be about 1 paragraph that tells what the art is like, what is there, and how the reviewer judges its quality as compared to other amateurs. Here's the grading system:
AA = above average
a = average
ba = below average.
A professional review would be much much more extenisve in covering many aspects of the art work, and it would be "The Toughest Art Reviews in the World" guaranteed. That way we will support the very best of professional level art and artists while refusing to kowtow to artists who are trying to fool their audience or themselves with poor quality work. The work would be given a grade between 1-10 with ten being the highest. See later for list. (A sample of a 10 would be a book of the complete plays of Shakespeare)
Here's what would be reviewed: Anything! Anything connected with the arts or media. That includes, but is not limited to: recordings: music, radio dramas, recitations, etc.; film: shorts, cartoons, features, screen plays, documentaries; theater productions, concerts, videos, video games, opera, zines, comics, chapbooks, novels, plays, short stories, poems, magazines, newsletters, commercials, architecture, city planning designs, monuments, fashion shows, dances, sculpture, paintings, drawings, art exhibits, museums, crafts, TV shows: network, cable, access, local, national; websites, newsgroups, zoos, amusement parks, venues for concerts, window displays, holiday decorations, other reviewers (how fair are they), and media: TV news on network, cable, local; radio news, print news: weekly magazines, daily national papers , daily local papers, newsletters, news websites, etc. etc.
The art for review could be sent to us by the artist, art group, or by a fan of a certain work of art that wanted a review posted. Also Musea could review some classics etc . to give the range of reviews more depth and scope...
Now let's take a break, get some snacks, R & R, recess, and when we return I would like each of you to have ready a question about how all this would work. Then we'll go round robin and get to the nitty and , if there is time, gritty of all the specifics. (Reader, you too may now get snacks if you like) Intermission - and note no commercials!
Q & A: Now back to the seriousness. Questions? Who's first?
Q: Why should an artist want a webpage on the net? And what would he get if he had one on Musea's website?
A: The Internet is expensive and complicated. But it is also a way that any artist can have a fair chance to be seen by the entire world. That's why our motto "Audition for the World". Most artists cannot afford a website and even if they have the money, they don't know how to set up a website, and even those that have a website don't know how to let others know about it. Musea would take care of all of that. All the artist would have to do is put his art in an envelope and send it to us. We would limit it to text and/or pictures at first - that'd be great for writers artists, and photographers. Later, as things progress, we could perhaps show samples of audio and video works from musicians and filmmakers.
Musea would post as much of the text/pix on a single web page that would fit. And then add that page to the Musea website for 1 year.(with a link to your website, if you have one). We already have 100's of people visiting Musea everyday. It's on all the major search engines. So you would get a potential audience of art lovers to your site each day and every day from day one. The fee? About $20 for a page of text and/or pictures. That's a web page on a busy art site, for 1 year and all you have to do is mail an envelop to us. You don't even have to own a computer!
Q. What about reviews? Why does an artist need a review?
A. Reviews are one of the best ways to show your work to a big audience. People want to know a little about your music, novel, film or play; before they spend time and money on it. Reviews give them a preview.
But in mainstream arts there are only 10 big conglomerates that not only control the arts but also who gets reviewed. And only their art work gets reviews. That's not fair to independent artists. So our service would give everyone a chance to get an expert to look at their art and give their opinion. Good reviews are balanced opinions by people who know a lot about that type of art and love it.
Q. Did you say everyone gets a review?
A. Yes guaranteed! Most artists - lets take a novelist for example - send out their novel to lots of places. Most review places will select only a few books to review. But being refused a review is a review in itself. You're being told your novel isn't worth consideration. And most novels do not get a review. Not at Musea. Everyone gets a review.
Q. Will the reviews be free?
A. No but they'll be cheaper! Let's say you have made a zine or chapbook and you'd like it to get reviewed. The zine costs $5 per copy to make, and it takes $3 to mail. That's $8 to make and mail one copy. (And note - videos, novels, CD's are even more expensive to make and mail) Now let's say you sent out 20 of these to 20 places for review. Most people send out more than that. You might not get any reviews at all. That is highly likely. And even if you get 1 it might not be a review site that anyone sees, or it might be a monthly magazine so its not available after that month. You've spent $160 on the hope of getting 1 review. Our professional fee = $15 with a fair review guaranteed . You save $145. Free can be very expensive!
Also your review will stay on the site for at least 1 year. By charging that fee we can review and support all art and artists and use the money to improve the site so even more artists and art lovers visit the site.
Q. What kind of reviews will you offer?
A. Two kinds, amateur and professional. The artist chooses which he prefers. Amateur will be the review category for those who love art but it is not a profession to them. They'd love to share their work with others. They have a passion for art but either they're just starting out and are not at the professional level yet, or they'd prefer not to have a professional review that would pit them against the very best artists of now and all time.
Our amateur reviews would be a single paragraph that tells what kind of art it is, what's it like - strengths and weaknesses, what the reviewer thought of it and a grade to show how it compares with other amateur art: AA = above average, a = average, ba = below average.
Q. What if I am a professional?
A. You would want to get a professional review. And we would guaranteed that they would be the toughest art and media reviews in the world!
Q. Why is tough good?
A. Because most reviews are soft - soft so they'll not make the 10 rich art companies mad, which keeps their advertising dollars coming in. We think that is bad art and bad business. Also by being extremely tough, we would take the air out of puffed up, over promoted, corporate art and praise those independent artists who are in it for quality first, not profits at the expense of quality. Also we would take the starch out of over praised trendy independents too. In the end the fair tough reviews would celebrate the very best art, and artists (media too). And of course Musea never accepts ads of any kind.
Q. What would they be like?
A. Each type of art would have its own checklist of basics. Example: If we were reviewing a song on a professional level, there would be a checklist that asked the reviewer to grade the following: Singing quality? On pitch? Range? Lyrics make sense? Do they say something worthwhile? Is it said in a poetic way? How good are the back up musicians? How melodic is the tune? Is it innovative? A good intro? Outro? Arrangement? , etc. etc. etc. So that even before the main review begins the reader knows a lot about the art work. Then the reviewer would give his thoughts , any contact info, and finally an overall grade from 1-10. 10 - Highest grade. Life's work of a master (collected plays of Shakespeare, collected symphonies of Beethoven). 9 - Single best work of a celebrated master's career. 8 - One of the best works of an era or genre or decade. 7 - Best work of the year. 6 - More good than bad. 5 - Average, equal mix of good and bad. 4 - Mostly bad art, some redeeming qualities. 3 - Mostly bad with very little good at all. 2 - bad, nothing redeeming. 1 - So bad it is offensivesly bad and outrages the reviewer for taking up that time in his life - just awful! Also note that we would label if the work is corporate art (Big Ten) or indy.
Q. What will each type of review cost? What if I just want to post my work?
A. We will charge enough to make a profit but not so much that no one can afford it. I'm thinking that at first, I would charge $5 for an amateur review. $15-$20 for a professional review IF it can be reviewed within say 30 minutes. Two hour films, full length novels, theater plays on video, etc. would cost more because it would demand more time from the reviewer. If you just wanted to post your art work - a 1 page website within our website, containing text and/or pictures you sent us in the mail, that we would post one time, and leave up for 1 year - that would cost about $15 - 20 too.
Q. Why not have ads and get your money that way?
A. It doesn't work for websites. Dot.com failures have proved that. But much, much more importantly is that ads ruin everything by slanting everything toward advertisers and away from readers. You can't have fair reviews and ads too.
Q. How will the reviews and posts be arranged? ,br . A. Each will have a symbol of what kind of art it is, next to the title. Ex the symbol of a camera for photo, palette for art work, etc. And it would be arranged by country. In the case of the U.S. the area of the country, state and possibly the city. That way you can find artists in your area, or in a part of the world you are interested in.
Q. Will you review the media too?
A. Yes. A fair media ( it is too slanted toward advertisers now) is a key to all the freedoms we cherish. Also the more fair the media the better the media coverage of the arts is. And that effects all art and artists.
Q. How hard will it be to find my review?
A. One thing I want to do is make the entire website as low tech and user friendly as possible. Most people when they first use a computer or go on the net, are amazed at how complicated and confusing it is. We will try to make our website as low tech and as simple to use as a daily newspaper. Our goal is not to amaze you with special effects, but to make it easy for you to find what you want and find it quickly without your computer crashing. We won't have anything that most computers cannot handle. Also we'll have a lot of free help to answer questions.
Q. What if I get a bad review that is really unfair? What can I do?
A. I don't think that'll happen too often (especially in amateur reviews). But it certainly happens that professional artists and reviewers don't agree. So in fairness we'd like to give everyone more than 1 viewpoint. That means that we'll have a newsgroup where you can post a reply to your review. Also we'll post the views of anyone else who wants to comment on your review. Also the reviewer might want to respond too. And finally we'll post a list of reviews that have the most complaints of unfairness so other visitors can take that into consideration. Now that's more than fair. And remember, on a professional level, even a bad review is better for your career than no review at all.
Q. What if I get a really good review?
A. That means you are doing something very exciting and you deserve to have others know about it. We'll try to support the best reviewed works by listing the highest reviewed works so visitors can see at a glance what's getting the best reviews. Also down the road, Musea would like to further support the best by publishing their work - example: the 10 best reviewed songs as a CD, the 10 best-reviewed short stories as an anthology, the ten best short films as a video, etc. Also remember art promoters and industry talent scouts will be watching for good reviews too. It saves them from sorting through 100's and 100's of submissions. And they might want to contact you to publish or promote your art. And finally, at the end of each year, I'd like to give "Musey" awards to the best works of the year. Candidates would be the best reviewed works of the year. Then all the reviewers would choose the final award winners.
Q. Who profits from this?
A. Hopefully everyone. Artists for getting a fair review and a place to post their work. Art lovers who are looking for honest reviews and all kinds of art news centered in one place. Musea gets a profit, enough to expand the company to do more for the arts, as well as pay salaries. And venture capital gets profits on their investment.
Q. Who is Musea? And why should we trust you.
A. Well you shouldn't unless you know something about us. Musea is the zine by me, Tom Hendricks, a musician, painter, writer; that since '92 has opposed unfairness in the arts. We have a reputation among zinesters across the country for being for the best of independent art /media and a variety of opinons, and against corporate art that is trying to monopolize all art and media into a handful of companies. And if this business meeting gets the venture capital we need, we'll also have the financial backing to make these plans come true.
"Good questions everyone. Let's take another break and we'll come back and answer a question that I have."...
Q. Will the website just be reviews and web pages of posted artworks?
A. No. No. No. That is just the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg is cool! But the reviews and postings are important because they bring in enough revenue to expand in other ways. Such as: 1. A weblogue, a page of website links, that will act as our newspaper. Once a week we'll list the latest news stories from across the country and world, plus lots of links to special internet sites that people might be interested in. (Later I would like to expand this to a twice a week, and later a net newspaper without ads)
2. A moderated newsgroup (moderated to keep the bullies and hatemongers out that you find in many unmoderated newsgroups) That would allow anyone to discuss and comment on any aspect of the arts, or the media, or our reviews, or pose a question to Musea or anything else that is related.
3. A directory of all art sites and art companies on or off the net. Anyone can submit names.
4. Radio station. Not at first but later I'd like to set up a station to play the music that's getting the best reviews in our review section. Also maybe there could be news, radio plays, readings, etc. And possibly down the line further, even a net TV station to play the best reviewed films and videos and more.
5. Musea - all 100+ issues of the zine that started it all. 30+ are up on our site now.
6. Museas guides to the arts. Expand on the guides we already have on our site (best movies, websites, novels, art works, poets, TV comedies, etc.) They are some of our most popular sites now.
7. The 'Muse-ings" of editor Tom, a sampling of my almost famous music, painting and writings (a lot is up already)
"Boss that all sounds good but, like Scott said earlier, venture capital is going to want specifics. What's this going to cost our venture capital partners?"
"Let's ask our main number cruncher, 'Colin Sub-total' (Click click of the adding machine)
Cost to set up the review and post system (would also set up the Musea issues, guides, and editor's "Muse-ings, sections).
Cost to set up a newsgroup/e-mail system.
Cost to set up a weblogue.
Plus assorted equipment , services and an office.
Cost to train staff, plus technical assistance to maintain system.
Cost of staff: two full time people, and assorted part time people that would include:
1. Head of Reviews, full time: to handle, process, write, and post reviews; and hire part time reviewers as needed.
2 Head of The Rest, full time: maintains newsgroup, and weblogue, helps handle process, write and post reviews. Hires part time people to help with weblogue.
3. Accountant, business adviser, part time.
4. Webmaster, part time (and on call as tech support ).
5. Other part time helpers as needed (office work, reviewers, help with the weblogue, help posting, etc)"
Venture capital should also note: Musea is a monthly zine since "92, website averages 600 hits a day with 20,042 in Feb/02, there are no other websites with an all arts review service but there is a great need for one. "Ok, Colin, that sounds reasonable. Now how much would all that cost and how much can we expect to come in as profits?"
"I do not know boss. That is an unknown at this point," as smoke pours out of the calculator.
(Note: venture capitalists reading this - please contact us for a guesttimate of cost and profits) "Thanks Colin, Now its up to the venture capitalists, to contact us, talk over the plans, and perhaps put their investment to work."
"And finally before I end this first Musea Number crunching, biz meeting; a word about profits at any cost. More and more I'm beginning to think that honest businesses can't make excessive profits. So I tend to think this biz plan would most likely, over the long run, make fair and reasonable profits but not gold-strike level profits. I think it is better to be a good business than to give people the business!
I also think that businesses that are run on the 'over-all' principle are the best. At the end of the day, ask this "Did most of the people most of the time today have a good experience with this company?" That should be our goal - that most customers, suppliers, investors, management, and workers; all - for the most part - most of the time, feel this biz is rewarding in a fair and ethical way. Now that's the way to run a biz.
With that, let's see what happens. Meeting adjourned." (Bop!)
Back to Main Page