Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Dances and the Dance Market

New Dances and the Dance Market 120801

I've been away from SL for a month then involved with Dance festival V and have not kept up with new dance releases. So, now that I again have SL time, I went around to all the MOCAP Dance Makers (see list) to see what was new. I found lots of new dances at MyAnimation, A&M, Henmations, Vista and HUMANOID/Akeyo (HUMANOID, Akeyo and Animocca have a common ownership I think). But, I also found more dance makers seem to have stopped or slowed making new dances including Ministry of Motion (MoM), There in Spirit (TIS), 3FX, Studio4D (S4D), Sine Wave (dead for a long time), Animazoo, Extreme, Abranimations, Akaesha, NHC and SEmotion. AV Puli has withdrawn to Animation Warehouse where it is tough to stand out, and Raymation and Lost Dog have gone out of business.

Last November I did an analysis of the dance maker market. At that time I concluded that the Dance Makers had separated into three groups. The strong, the middle and the weak. If you go back and look, you will see the introduction of new dances is completely by the strong. Some of the weak seem to have perished or are about to. The middle is weakening. Only the strong seem to be surviving. In a year or so we may have only five Dance Makers who actually make new dances.

As I think about why this is the conclusion I come to is the market is mature. The growth of SL has slowed. When you log on the number of people online seems about the same as a couple of years ago. However, the number of dances made in the last two years is huge. What this means is that the demand is stable and the offerings have increased. The result is fewer sales per dance. That means less revenue for the dance maker per dance. The cost of making dances has probably decreased somewhat as Dance Makers processes have improved, but I suspect that for the middle group the cost of making new dances is not justified by the sales. So, the middle group is doing what is called "milking" the market. They are selling what they have, but not making anything new. Eventually milking leads to a slow death.

The strong group seem to be competing in different ways. For example, Akeyo/Animocca/HUMANOID seems to be competing by trying to differentiate the market on price and quality. They also have a vendor program and you run across their dances in different places in SL. Henmations is innovating equipment and at the same time flooding the market with dances. It's a kind of mow down the competition strategy. My Animation is also making a lot of dances and focusing on broadening the offering, for example, the Nossa and MC Hammer dances. There are a lot of smaller dance categories and styles and MyAnimation is filling them. A&M is also filling the categories and styles, but with fewer dances being produced. A&M also seems to be forming relationships with dance equipment makers, such as the sale of the Barre HUD at A&M. Vista seems to dabble in the dance market and puts much more emphasis on the animated pose market.

Yummy has talked about the exciting new things coming in dancing and I also see them too, but, I don't see anything that changes the trend we are seeing. I predict that the middle group will become weak in the next couple of years and some of the strong will begin to weaken. If SL is alive in 10 years there may be only a couple of strong Dance Makers.

Of course, I always have to think about the "everything has been invented" quote. Maybe SL will evolve into something that goes beyond what I can dream.

I hope so.



  1. I heard my name and for once it wasn't in vain.

    I agree that more dance-makers coming on the market is dividing up a somewhat fixed amount of aggregate displosable income. I try to keep my pulse on the trending of "show-dancing" and without a doubt I am seeing 2 emerging trends.

    "One" is the move towards more "story-content".

    Choreos of the ever-popular reality-dance TV show, SYTYCD, are always trying to incorporate some semblance of story in to the dance routines. The days of the storyless dance performance seem to be waning. It's as if someone announced from above "we all will now incorporate more story"...only it seems its been telepathic. But I sense its something we all really crave deep down inside.

    And "two" is a trending towards longer and bigger offerings in the form of full-on musical productions that tell story and use dance as one of many forms of expression. More and bigger may or may not be better but more is definitely noticeable and enviable.

    It may be due to the success and notoriety of the few big productions we've seen recebtkt. I've certainly heard a repeated chant from some festival venues saying they "didn't really want to be big-'er' but they also didn't want to appear puny amongst the behemoths. I think this same thinking will follow in terms of size of future "entertainment-offerings".

    I count at least 5 new big productions planned* for fall release that I know of, so stay tuned as this market redefines itself.

    So with story and production will come "new ways" to deliver it, born out of necessity, so that it permeates the invisible wall between performer and audience by better suspending disbelief. This will mean many more ways to become creative...a more immersive experience for audiences...and more ways to well as fail.

    So this could open up a whole new market for animations that are "lyrical" and "punctuated" in that they can be used to help underscore a key theatrical “moments”. But I fear/suspect dance-makers won't feel a yen for catering to the needs of 600 enthusiastic well-meaning super-creative types when they are used to catering to solo-club dancers who congregate in dance-maker groups with memberships as high 25,000. We may be seen as insignificant peas in a pod.

    But the dance-maker who dares to try it first might be able to gain a substantial market share of a new niche that might havefuture off-shoots...bragging rights of being 1st and foremost. I’ve heard SL show-producers already identify lyrical movements they wish they had.

    But, yes, I too see a shake-out and only the strongest and most determined dance-makers surviving as profits shrink. You can tell by the recent frenzied offerings of promotional enticements.

    There is a small chance however of something else happening.

    That being the creation of animations by the “little-girl/guy”, maybe further dividing up the somewhat fixed-disposable income pie, ye renewing interest in new dance-types for many who have or had reached an end.

    SLers already create content in the way of game gizmos, avatar accessories, etc.

    Well, you and I can now, if we have the dance-talent, time, desire, and some spare RL Linden-equivalents (under 1k), create our own MOCAP animations.

    “…motion capture technology that literally puts motion capture at animator's desktop. You can record a video right at your workplace using 1 or 2 MS Kinects, webcams or inexpensive digital cameras and have it converted to 3D animation on your PC. The technology is accurate, easy to use and affordable.”

    So you may know some kid down the block with some mad skillz, busting buck moves the kind of which have not been even hinted at yet in SL. Well this may be your chance and hers to claim your 15 minutes of fame as well as a few spare lindens.

  2. As a dancing roleplayer, I would LOVE to see more lyrical animations become available. My character tells stories when she dances, and I've won numerous in-character dance competitions because of these stories rather than the "shakes her hips to the music"-style dances. For now, we pick the animation that is closest to what we want to show and narrate it the rest of the way. Often with big walls of text that take twice as long to read as watch. Hm, I'm a RL dancer and have a Kinect. Maybe I could get in on this...

    And I can see why people are wanting more story-based dances in the dance shows they watch. While this is absolutely NOT TRUE, a dance without any storyline LOOKS like it takes less work than one that has narration. When in a dance club, you have lots of animations that run in a random order and sometimes the dancer catches a glimpse of a cool move that has great timing by coincidence. When dances are so fast, you don't really have the time to appreciate all the work that goes into them. Unfortunately, I have no solution for this besides doing nothing but slow dances, and too much of the same thing gets boring.