“Working toward greater diversity in new music is necessary and right. The problem is that we’re putting the cart before the horse. Greater inclusivity isn’t an audience-building strategy—it’s an audience-building outcome. Making inclusivity the focus of strategy actually hurts our efforts. All we do is muddle classical music exceptionalism with easily disproven assumptions about musical taste, in the process blinkering ourselves to certain truths about how people use music in pretty much any other context.”
The type of shameless promotion that YouTubers engage in on a daily basis is radically different from what Vaccarino had experienced with traditional artists. “When it comes to selling something, with bands and traditional musicians, it’s not their priority. They’re like, ‘How do I make good music?’ And just assume the money will follow. They will be apologetic about selling merch. YouTubers are like, ‘How can I sell as much as possible to these fans who want to be sold to?’”
“The study found that more than a third of art museum-goers did not think art museums were a cultural experience, and over half of theatergoers felt the same. Audiences were more likely to consider a street fair or exotic food and drink a cultural experience than opera or ballet. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they attend cultural events for fun, while “interest in content” and “experiencing new things” ranked second and third.”
Youtube, fueled by their parent company’s artificial intelligence division, Google Brain, has successfully accelerated their recommendation capabilities through a series of micro-improvements. For example, roughly four years ago, YouTube made its first significant improvement to its recommendation algorithm when it decided to value the number of times users spent watching a video more than the number of video clicks per person. With this one move, creator’s saw their view counts decline, who had originally profited from misleading headlines and thumbnails. All of a sudden, higher quality videos which were directly correlated with long watch times came to the forefront. As a result, watch time on YouTube grew 50% year over year over the next three years.
In this case, the media has been thrust in the position of the literary critic, drawing lines between the artwork and the broader culture. This isn’t a bad development, exactly—it’s great that a short story is making headlines. But it is also worth noting that the boundaries of literary criticism, at least as they are traditionally conceived, are being exceeded across the internet. The response to “Cat Person” is the latest evidence that we have entered new territory for online criticism, and no one quite knows what to make of it.
Hudes: “If you write solely to suit the audience, you’ll be chasing your tail. That being said, I study them very closely – where they laugh, where they lean in, where they ‘go fishing’ in their minds.”
LaBute: “I want to get close to them and make them feel the events in a real way – to break the fourth wall, to look them squarely in the eye, and challenge them to leave, but force them to stay.”
“The thing that’s frustrating about doing the Olympics is that you get to the end and then you understand what you should have done. When you’re running a theatre or an opera house or a festival, you can learn from your mistakes. You get to the end of London 2012 and think, ‘Damn, I’m never going to get a chance to apply this wisdom that I have now acquired.”
“Is it possible that the lack of nonwhite and female lead characters in Hollywood films is driven, in part, by economic concerns from movie studios? Our analysis of more than 800 films sampled between 2005 and 2012 suggests the answer is ‘yes’.”
That was the title of a panel discussion at Art Basel Miami Beach that “included artist Jordan Casteel, Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston director Bill Arning, and writer and photographer Teju Cole. While there weren’t many concrete solutions drawn, the conversation offered a clear diagnosis of the key issues facing art and culture and, at the very least, a starting point for how we can understand and address them going forward.
“It is difficult to prove that digital technologies are actually making people into worse writers. It is likely that the world is just seeing more unfiltered thoughts written down than at any other time in history. People are not writing worse so much as writing and publishing far more. But the internet is changing language.”
Museums in the 21st century face particular and special challenges: in an age of digital communication, when an image – almost any image – can be summoned up effortlessly on an electronic device, why go to the trouble of visiting an actual institution just to see the supposed “original”? Does the word “original” have meaning any longer in this context? In other words, the mere displaying of objects, even uniquely valuable objects, no longer, of itself, justifies a museum’s existence; something more is required to render a visit to a museum worthwhile.
“A study published in March demonstrated that natural sounds have the ability to relieve psychological and physiological stress. Using fMRI and heart-rate monitoring, researchers Gould van Praag, et al, of the University of Sussex found that listening to natural sounds improved parasympathetic activity, whereas listening to artificial sounds prompted sympathetic arousal.”
“Qwest will operate like a highly specialized version of Netflix: Members pay a small fee each month for access to the full video library. It also resembles more boutique streaming platforms like Mubi, the art-film streaming service, or Boiler Room, an organization that archives its own underground-music concerts on its website.”
Between June and August 2017 a record 11.5 million overseas visitors came to the UK, up 6% on the same period last year. Among holiday-makers the increase was greater still, with 13% more choosing to spend their vacations in the UK. Despite this, a year-on-year comparison shows that visitor numbers from June to August were down at: British Museum (-3%), National Gallery (-19%), National Portrait Gallery (-41%), and Tate Modern (-37%)
“The survey, commissioned by [radio station] Classic FM, … explored reasons why people did not attend opera shows as well as general public opinion on the art form. …One in ten of the participants who had attended an opera performance in the past claimed that they ‘felt nervous, self-conscious and like they didn’t fit in’.”
“The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra experienced its fifth straight year of record ticket sales during the 2016-17 season while meeting budget projections for the fourth time in five years.”
Some of their “trailer reaction” videos actually boast more views than the trailers they reference, meaning that, mathematically speaking, a significant portion of their audience watch the reaction but not the trailers to which the reaction is, um, reacting.
“There is a paradox in the missing cohort of current homegrown films and filmmakers at the box office. It’s not a lack of talent. Canadians make movies for Hollywood every day. We have the best movie craftspeople on the planet. It, X Men: Apocalypse and Blade Runner 2049 are recent Hollywood releases made mostly by Canadian crews. It’s also not a lack of market. Canadians spent around a billion dollars on movie tickets last year. So why has it become so rare for an English-language Canadian film to connect with audiences?”
“Theatres outside London sold 169,000 fewer tickets in 2016 than the previous year – a 1% drop – but improved overall box office sales by 3%, bringing in a total of £14.7m. New data from membership body UK Theatre shows income from plays, pantos, comedy and dance is down on last year, but this was offset, largely thanks to an increase in sales for musicals, which increased by around £20m last year.”
The digital commons fosters great communal benefits that go beyond being a publisher in the traditional sense. The fact that YouTube is open and free allows all kinds of creativity to flourish in ways that are not enabled by the entertainment industry. The tragedy is that it also empowers pornographers and propagandists for terror.
TV, the art form, is in its platinum age. But the future present of video packaging and distribution is on-demand and digital. TV the platform simply cannot survive under its current business model. It must evolve.
“Data from industry body UK Theatre has revealed that total box office income for member venues in 2016 was £470 million, up from £397 million in 2013. This was due to a 10% rise in average ticket price paid over the period, equivalent to a £2.15 increase per ticket, as well as improved ticket sales, fuller theatres and more productions.”
Lyn Gardner: “Just as the window displays of Topshop may deliberately scream that their wares are not for me – a middle-aged woman – many venues unwittingly send out the signal that theatre is not for everyone. … If the public has paid for these buildings then they truly must be places available to the public – and artists – all day long, to do what they want, not what they are directed to do. They shouldn’t feel the need to be invited in, but they should be made to feel welcome whatever their purpose for being there.
The North State Symphony was performing Firebird in Redding, California, and at one point where there’s a big, sudden crescendo, one Stephanie Evans screamed. Alas for her, the moment was caught on video. Here’s how the conductor and orchestra handled it, and how Evans explains it.
“All across the media world, organizations continue to grapple with ‘digital disruption.’ … Which is why the Jerome L. Greene Foundation’s $10 million gift this month to New York Public Radio (NYPR), home to WNYC and WQXR, is so interesting.” Mike Scutari looks at how this donation, along with several others from the Greene Foundation over the past decade, has funded NYPR’s “self-disruption” – that is, its transformation into a “multi-platform journalism service.”
“At the moment, secondary ticketing sites are required to tell customers whether there are restrictions on using a resold ticket, such as the need for photo identification. They must also make clear exactly where the customer will be seated in the venue and who the customer is buying the ticket from, whether an individual or a business. Due to the large amount of evidence gathered, the [Competition and Markets Authority] has now broadened the scope of its investigation.”
Before the Philharmonie de Paris opened in early 2015, many observers fretted that the mostly older, well-heeled classical music fans in the city would not travel out to a big, modernist venue on the northern edge of the city. Nearly three years later, concerts are selling better than they used to at the (older and smaller) Salle Pleyel, and the crowds are younger and more diverse.
“It has seemed that for the entire 2010s thus far, Facebook has been a place for composers and co. (whether to chat, laugh, share work, share opportunities, discuss musical issues, discuss politics, fight like hell) to come together. The same is true for actors, string players, academics, doctors, and bankers, to some extent, I’m assuming. But for composers, or for the several hundred spread over six continents whom I’m FBfriends with, at any rate, it has functioned as one of the relevant gathering places for those of us who couldn’t make it to the show last night. Our lot, as a rule, doesn’t congregate.”
“A vibrant network doesn’t die all at once. It takes time and neglect; it grows weaker by the day, but imperceptibly, so that one day we are living in a digital world controlled by giants and we come to regard the whole thing as normal. It’s not normal. It wasn’t always this way. The internet doesn’t have to be a corporate playground. That’s just the path we’ve chosen.”
With many tourists in the city, schools on break and star power lifting the tide, audiences turned out en masse. “Hamilton” grossed a whopping $3.4 million in a regular eight-performance week, breaking its own record set this January. With the show sold out nonstop, the average ticket price hit $321.13, reflecting a premium pricing model that producers have started to employ across the industry.