Here’s another view of the Alan Gilbert/Death videos that I raved about so strongly in an earlier post. To clarify the context — and to put myself squarely in the bullseye of the criticism raised here — I’ll recall that liked these videos (which advertised the New York Philharmonic’s performances of Ligeti’s Le grand macabre) so much that I said this about them:
If everyone in
classical music put out material like this, the field might be reborn tomorrow.
And now comes this comment to my post, from Phyllida Law, which says the following. (Since comments are public, I feel free to repeat them in my posts.)
I completely agree that classical music marketing needs a kick up the pants but the trouble I see with the Alan Gilbert videos is twofold:
1. The humour, such as it is, on display in the clips has nothing whatsoever to do with the Berlioz and anyone drawn in to attending a performance on the basis of this is liable to be alienated or disappointed, and put off any future forays.
2. Gilbert comes off looking like exactly the kind of nice but nerdy character, albeit a good sport, that most non-classical music lovers assume most classical musicians are. The Rite of Spring joke is a complete insider joke and the acting in the rest is true high school geek acting.
I don’t mean to be a downer about these genuinely original attempts to lure new audiences to an already daring programming venture but there is a terrible risk in all marketing of raising too high, of just wrong, expectations. Audiences of any ad don’t like to feel they’ve been duped. Maybe you’ll get one or two converts, taken by surprise by Ligeti.
But I’m not surprised a classical music lover – you, Mr Sandow — who
also wants to see his world safe in a youtube universe, excited about this advertising. You are exactly who the ads will appeal to most, and you were probably going to go anyway.
Touché to that last point, which, now that it’s been made to me, seems clearly true, even obvious. My excitement could well have been premature, especially in light of the performance itself, which I’ll talk about in a future post. And also since an important part of putting something on YouTube, for me, is the viral marketing plan that goes along with the video — that is, the plan to create some excitement among a particular target audience online. Did the Philharmonic have a plan like this? That could be the subject of a future discussion.