The book, of course, is Rebirth: The Future of Classical Music. There’s now a sidebar on this site, off to the right, devoted to it. There you’ll always be able to find all the book material I’ve made available. You can also go to it directly, by clicking here.
The subject of the new riff — and the correponding chapter in the book — is the crisis in classical music, and how it can be measured statistically. Covers some topics familiar to longtime readers here — the aging audience, declining ticket sales, Baumol’s Dilemma (an economic principle that shows one reason why funding classical music can be difficult), and of course the recent NEA figures, showing a steep drop in the percentage of adult Americans who go to classical performances.
Remember that you’re free to circulate my riffs as widely as you like, or reprint them in your own sites and blogs, or in print — wherever. I want these things read! Just keep within the very simple restrictions stated at the copyright notice at the end of the riffs.
Already I’d make changes in what I’ve written. This is something wonderful — for me — about this way of writing a book, posting versions of it in public, and seeking feedback. Feedback, I might add, from myself, as well as from others. When I put this stuff out, I think about it differently. I start seeing it through other peoples’ imagined eyes, even if they haven’t commented on what I’ve written.
So this time, the biggest change I’ll make in future versions is to treat the dire data not just as a warning or a calamity, but as an opportunity. Which is why I call the book Rebirth, not “Death.” If classical music — in its mainstream variety — is in trouble, that’s a reason for it to change. And in the process of changing, many things can be fixed, and classical music will emerge better, stronger, more vital, more artistic, and much more nourishing to everyone involved with it.
I also understated (I’m sorry to say) the extent to which classical music institutions are currently in financial trouble, especially because funding sources really are drying up. To be fixed in future versions.
I also need to rewrite the outline of the book, because I’ve already made one big change — chapters two and three in the outline (about statistics and funding) are now a single chapter, as set forth in the riff.
And the outline should more strongly emphasize what I now see are the two main themes of the book:
- Classical music needs to reconnect with our current culture.
- Classical musicians need to be freer, more creative, more personal, and in all ways more empowered in the ways they make music (in part because this is what’s happening throughout our culture these days, in everything from art to entrepreneurship).
About the process I’m using to write this book: I was tremendously encouraged by something I read in Pamela Slim’s entrepreneurship blog, “Escape from Cubicle Nation.” “I am really obsessed,” she writes in her latest post, “with the topic of test often and fail fast” — in public, that is. Get your ideas/projects/products out there fast, and see how they work (or don’t). Very inspiring for me, and, clearly, to others.