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Thursday, March 25, 2004

How to kill classical music...a pointer

Fellow weblogger Greg Sandow is running a great series (okay, two entries in a row) on 'how to kill classical music'. Phase one was about the appalling CD cover art in so many classical releases, phase two talked about dry and uniformative press releases.

Both entries speak to the point of selling what people buy, rather than what the producers and scholars think they're selling. You see the same problem in so many performing arts center season brochures, where the two main shots of the venue are from the stage looking out into a sparkling but empty hall, or from the top balcony looking down on a curtained and empty stage. Even the alternative -- full-color, smiling head shots of the artists to come -- doesn't speak to what audiences are buying: a dynamic, compelling, vital, social performance experience (or a night out, a date, or a family celebration anchored by a live performance).

Behind the problem is the fact that arts marketers don't have much else to work with. They don't have the budget for professional performance photos (and even if they did, the artist might not be in their hall until the week of the show). And the best shots they have of their venues come from the architectural design or renovation team, who wanted a clean and empty photo to show their great work. If there are photos with people in them, they quickly look out of date thanks to changing hair styles, fashion, and demographic mix.

So, perhaps the more powerful venues need to start demanding more dynamic performance photos from artist managers and agents, as well as architectural photos of a facility that include people enjoying a show. Or perhaps one of the national service organizations representing a large number of smaller organizations could encourage a new 'stock photo' series of happy audience members enjoying a night on the town.

posted on Thursday, March 25, 2004 | permalink