New year, new rant everyone! I’ve gotten so many of these dance for exposure requests over the holidays specifically that I needed to get this conversation out of my system to start the new year off FRESH.

I’m going to start this off with an edited excerpt from a request that I received recently that was attempting to procure my services for free:
“… Due to budgetary and cost to hire a dancer for the honor of my heritage in making this a memorable evening, I might be able to hire dancer to stay up to 2 hours. Please know the dancer is more than welcome to stay to promote class/business to my guests for as long as this get together last and of course, to enjoy the festivities. You see, I’m all about promoting/supporting business communities. Case in point, the Moroccan designer is doing this event for free and in return they are promoting their business.”

This is a direct message with identifying information edited out. So I’m not fabricating it. Now, it is not my place to judge whether someone else is providing their services for exposure like the designer. They could very well be. Or they could be a friend or family member happy to help them out in the hopes that those attending the event may desire their services. My issue is that if you are all about promoting and supporting businesses then you shouldn’t be asking the business to do something for you for free. And the person being able to stay and eat isn’t a perk. In my culture at least, it is a common courtesy and expected. I’m almost always given a to-go container from Greek events. Typically I have other events that evening and am unable to stay but the invite is a nice touch.

greek dancer baltimore, baltimore greek dancer, bellydance by amartia

If you want to truly promote and support someone’s business, hire them. And then rave about it to your friends and family, on social media about how great they were! By wanting them to do it for no cost to you, you are actually asking them to pay YOU to promote them. They are still putting the same amount of time and work into your event but for no pay. So in essence, they are working for you to then promote them. And this promotion isn’t the same as hiring a promoter where there are metrics that you can rely on to see if their promotion has resulted in more or new business for you, there is none of that. The performer is paying for a task that may never occur.

And don’t even get me started on sending a student or not wearing an expensive costume. In that case you are asking for me to present my less than professional self for you to promote. Neither option sounds great.

So there you have it. My new year, new rant is over. This type of thing may be new to some of you or perhaps it is a new perspective on promotion that you haven’t been exposed to before. Just please think of these things before you ask that artist that you just love to offer you their services for exposure.