Twitter power

Here's an e-mail I got this morning, from a publicist friend, Patch Canada. Look what Twitter did for her! (Thanks, Patch, for giving me permission to put this on the blog.)Hi Greg -I was absolutely blown away by Twitter last night and felt compelled to share it with you since you and I have talked about the usefulness of Twitter. Did you happen to see my Tweet yesterday about Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel doing a free live in-store performance at Waterloo Records in Austin? We had this in-store performance scheduled sans Willie. About … [Read more...]

Noise at concerts — the sports connection

In all our fine discussion here about silent listening, there's something obvious that I've forgotten to say. We've talked about noise at concerts, whether it's from people Twittering, or people talking, or applauding during the music. Some of us are worried that this would disturb the musicians. As in fact it might, but maybe only (as I said in a reply to a comment) because the musicians aren't used to noise coming from the audience.Just look at sports. A major league pitcher has to fire pitches at pinpoint targets, maybe at a particular cubic … [Read more...]

Silent listening

This picks up from some comments posted here, and also from a Twitter debate I had with a musician from the London Symphony. (Thanks, @londonsymphony!)And it all comes from my suggestion that classical music organizations consider Twittering during concerts -- sending out real-time thoughts about the music, from musicians, for instance, or (a very interesting option, for me) from members of the audience. Some people don't like this -- and understandably, of course -- because they feel that it would interfere with listening. That's a point to … [Read more...]

Arts arguments

In my last post, about going viral, I mentioned a skeptical Wall Street Journal piece I'd written about stimulus money for the arts. It appeared last Wednesday, and of course grew out of my skeptical posts about the arts stimulus (here and here).In it, I said much of what you might have read in the blog. The economic argument for giving stimulus money to the arts is shallow, and easy for non-arts organizations to trump. It's hard to argue for money for the arts when money for crucial social programs -- public health, for instance -- is lacking. … [Read more...]

The day I went viral

That would be Thursday. February 19. And I don't want to make too much of this. It's not like I got two million hits on a YouTube video, or sold 40,000 downloads of a song I wrote last week. But something really did happen. For at least that one day, people on Twitter were telling each other about two things I've written. One was my skeptical piece for the Wall Street Journal about arts funding in the stimulus bill. The other was my post here about one way that classical music institutions might use Twitter. These were largely people I don't … [Read more...]

Twitter point

Anyone who reads David Pogue's technology column in the New York Times (Thursday, in the business section) knows that he's hot for Twitter, the social networking/microblogging/what should we call it? thing that lets us send out short announcements all day long about what we're doing. I think that marks a Twitter tipping point, because Twitter is popping up all over, in places I wouldn't have expected. It's a serious business application now. Millions of people, all day long, are sending out thoughts and observations, getting questions answered, … [Read more...]

What’s happening here

Some things I realized...First (this came clear for me today when I responded to a comment): I don't worry about the ultimate relevance of classical music in the world today. Or in the future. Might seem strange for me to say that, since I'm forever finding ways in which I think classical music doesn't connect. But there's a difference. I can find things that clearly don't connect, in the way the music is presented and performed, maybe less often in the music itself. I'll say that we should fix these things, and I'll suggest ways in which they … [Read more...]

Getting people involved

I've often said -- and often told my students -- that I think classical music works too much from the top down, at a time when our culture is going in the opposite direction. All the talk in popular culture these days is about people participating, creating art on their own, making mashups of existing art. While classical music still mostly serves up the same old masterworks, in a format (the standard concert format) that encourages (if not compels) the audience to sit silently, and absorb what's good for them.How can we change this? Here's an … [Read more...]

Arts bailout/stimulus (last time)

The discussion, in so many comments, of my arts bailout post has been terrific. Many thanks to everyone. In one comment, my friend Chris McGl stressed, as others did, the difference between a bailout and a stimulus, which I'm happy to acknowledge. Chris also offered a link to data from Americans for the Arts on the economic impact of arts activity. Everyone concerned with this question should look at this data. It's important, and often cited in these debates: The $166.2 billion in total economic activity [each year] has a significant national … [Read more...]

Arts bailout?

I fear that what I'm going to say might ignite a firestorm. But I think it needs to be said.We hear a lot -- or at least we do if we're in the arts -- about an arts bailout. Many people (in the arts, at least) want money for the arts included in the stimulus bill. I get e-mail about that, and eager Twitter tweets. Please support an arts bailout, these communications say. E-mail your senator, your congressperson.And in fact there's a $50 million supplement to the NEA budget in the bill that passed the House. It's not in the version of the bill … [Read more...]

The two paths (Where we stand, part 5)

(This is the end of my "Where we stand" series for 2009.)I've notice that, broadly speaking, people take two positions on the future of classical music. Or,.rather, they take these positions if they think that classical music faces any problems. Some people think everything's fine, but I'm going to assume that these people are a small minority, and won't be reading this blog. (If I'm wrong, and you're one of those people, tell me!)So let's assume that all of us -- or most of us -- think that classical music has problems. Some of us will blame … [Read more...]

Obama subtext

I loved the Springsteen half-time show. He's 59. An inspiration -- if he has that much energy, I can have it, even if I've got a few years on him. And many people might have said that rock like that was dead, as any kind of current music. That it's now nostalgia. But maybe not. Or maybe nostalgia is part of its strength, a way of bringing back our innocence.A great way to launch the new album, of course. The new song stood up to the classics (though since everything was cut, we don't know how it would hold up at full length). Also -- how happy … [Read more...]

The meaning of the surge (Where we stand, part 4)

No, not the surge in Iraq. This is a surge, or at least a heartening increase, in ticket sales, which I've been hearing about for the past couple of years. Of course -- since, as I've said, we just don't have reliable data for classical music ticket sales and finances (I should put that in bold type) -- I don't know how big this surge is, or how broad, by which I mean how widespread it is in the classical music world. We know the Metropolitan Opera has been selling more tickets, but that might be a special case, caused by Peter Gelb's … [Read more...]