New culture

Yesterday I was running errands in my car, and listening to Soundcheck, the really fine afternoon music talk show on WNYC (the public radio station in New York). They were marking a milestone in music video — the cancellation of the only remaining show on MTV that still showed music videos.

So what was the state of music videos now? Here’s what I learned. Music videos have largely migrated to YouTube. They aren’t pushed to music fans by any central provider. Fans seek them out on their own.

And often the best and best-known videos aren’t made by top-hit bands. They’re made by far less popular indie bands. Often fans make videos on their own. Often bands make videos designed to be remixed, so to speak — to have ttheir visuals altered — by fans.

Just another day, in other words, in the ongoing life of Web 2.0, the current version of the Internet, which encourages participation by people who use it. As opposed to Web 1.0, the old way we did things, where information was pushed down to users from organizations with things to sell, or things they wanted us to know.

So where does classical music stand in all of this? Sorry to say, we’re for the most part rooted back in Web 1.0. How do we ever think we’ll attract younger people? And why, exactly, should they be interested in us? In a world that increasingly highlights individual creativity, what chance to be creative do we offer anyone?

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  1. Bill says

    Remix is a great (and long standing) concept in popular music. Radiohead has a huge remix contest off their latest CD and it’s getting a huge response.

    Remix Bach, Beethoven? Yes! It would be inspirational to take the works of these artists and make something new.

    I may try it myself with some public domain recordings (no sense waiting for orchestras/labels to get a clue).

  2. Tristan Parker says

    A fan-made Youtube video was my introduction to Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel, now a favorite of mine. I think classical music is looking at a golden opportunity here, if anyone can see it.

    Now that I think of it, that’s how I discovered a lot of my favorite classical and modern-classical music.

    (by “classical” here I’m using the popular meaning, not the technical one)

  3. says

    YouTube has served as an outlet for most things musical for me. Whenever I am learning a new piece of music, looking for performances of music I plan on performing, or want to seek out new classical artists, YouTube has proven to be a great resource. I have discovered the likes of Ian Bostridge, Philipe Jarousky and Ruth Ann Swenson, just to name a few. If it wasn’t for this use of new technology my musical knowledge would most likely not be what it is now.

  4. says

    I’m the director of education and community partnerships at From the Top, where we make the public radio and TV programs that feature young classical musicians ages 8 to 18. We also distribute the programs via the web, with streaming and podcasts. But we’ve also been looking for ways to engage more kids (who are not necessarily musicians) in listening and responding to classical music, using new media. In November we’ll be announcing a statewide contest in Iowa, courtesy of a federal education grant, that invites kids to make multimedia responses to our TV series (see it at We’d love to hear comments or suggestions from ArtsJournal readers.

  5. says

    Well, if you want to commercialize classical music as much as pop music, go ahead. Ultimately, I don’t think it will make a difference to people who are serious about music.

    I, for one, cannot recommend YouTube as long is it is so difficult to view movies without the Adobe Flash player installed.