More than a haircut

Lang Lang's hair sticks straight up

After I taught my class about branding -- using an Apple-gadget charger and some chocolate -- one of my students gave a branding example: Lang Lang's haircut. You know it's him, as soon as you see his hair. And a few commenters here decried branding as shallow, surface stuff. But remember that the chocolates -- with their varied shapes, and varied-color wrapping -- look different because they're different inside. And that's what branding ought to be about: What you are inside. Which then shows on the outside, and makes people remember … [Read more...]

How do we know it’s you?

ghirardelli mint blog

A brief lesson in branding, as I taught it in my Juilliard class this week. I brought in a Plugbug, and some chocolate. I'd bought the Plugbug in an Apple store, though it's not made by Apple. It's a power adapter for Apple products, and -- unlike anything Apple sells -- can charge two things at once, my MacBook and my iPhone or iPad. Apple's power adapters -- the ones that come with their laptops and i-devices -- are white. And while the Plugbug looks much like an Apple charger, it's red, so we'll know it's different. Now for the … [Read more...]

Why entrepreneurship?

blog change ahead

As I said in my last post, I'm stressing entrepreneurship this semester, in my Juilliard course on the future of classical music. And, of course, entrepreneurship is a major buzzword at music schools right now. But why? What's the purpose of this? Well, here's one useful explanation, which surfaced, very helpfully, in a working group I'm part of, in which we're helping to shape an entrepreneurship curriculum at a particular music school. Entrepreneurship, said one of our members, will help students shape their careers in a variety of … [Read more...]

My Juilliard course, updated

blog entrepreneurial shoot

Spring semester has started, and that means I teach my Juilliard course on the future of classical music. The link takes you to the class schedule for the course, complete with links to most of the assignments. Which means you can read what the students read, and listen to what the students listen to, and watch the videos I've asked the students to watch, if you'd like to do these things. This, amazingly, is the 16th year that I've taught this course. Which among much else means, as I've said, that we've been talking about a classical music … [Read more...]

An explosion of comments…

blog comments-encouraged

…and an apology to everyone. Yesterday, more comments showed up on this blog than every showed up on a single day before. Thanks so much, everyone who commented! I'm thrilled to have sparked such interest. But I have to approve the comments before they go online. And yesterday turned out to be an insanely busy, exhausting day. So I didn't get to the comments till this morning. Which means that so many of you posted comments, and then may have wondered where they were! I do apologize. But remember that I'm a one-man band here, and … [Read more...]

Why don’t we know?

An ocean of data

If you look back on my post about David Gockley and the San Francisco Opera -- quoting David's very stark words about the company's financial problems -- you'll see a lively debate in the comments, between Lisa Hirsch and myself. The debate, essentially, is about whether the San Francisco Opera really is in as much trouble as David says. And that disagreement spreads toward other institutions. When the Philadelphia Orchestra announced it would declare bankruptcy, was it really in as much trouble as it said it was? Or, maybe more pointedly, … [Read more...]

Cries of pain

Classical music fan screaming

"The reason I subscribed to Capital Public Radio is for classical music,"  says a subscriber to the public radio station in Sacramento, CA. Which, like many (most?) public radio outlets, has cut back on classical programming. And now, adding insult to injury, is moving its jazz broadcasts to a classical station it runs, displacing classical music even more. "Many classical music lovers feel they have been left in the lurch during their prime listening time at home," says the news story I linked to. "I'm feeling disenfranchised," says the … [Read more...]

Another sign of trouble — and a solution?

blog colo 2

The David Gockley statement I blogged about was only one declaration of trouble in classical music that caught my attention recently. Another was a news story about the Colorado Symphony, an institution that feels it needs fundamental change. The emphasis is different here. David talked about the problems he faces. And the Colorado Symphony talks about solutions. But the solutions are needed, the story notes (if only in passing), because the Symphony is "cash-short" -- hurting for money. Which means it has, in essence, the same problem as … [Read more...]

More clouds gather

blog gockley

Here's a classical music leader pointing at dark clouds hovering over our field. I'm talking about an admission of serious trouble, in an extraordinary -- extraordinarily honest and forceful -- statement by David Gockley, General Manager of the San Francisco Opera, and (I'd think by more or less unanimous acclaim) one of the top arts managers in the US. David says that his company is in serious trouble, because of factors that affect all arts organizations like it. He wrote this in the Opera's program book, in November 2010. A friend … [Read more...]

Gathering clouds

blog bergen

In the past, I've started the year off here with posts called "Where we stand," in which I sum up the current state of classical music, or, maybe more accurately, consider the latest evidence that classical music -- in its mainstream form -- is declining. But right now I'm rewriting last year's version of that document, to use in my Juilliard course on the future of classical music, which starts next week. (The link takes you to last year's curriculum. I'll put the new one up when the course starts again.) So I'll hold off on the current … [Read more...]

Handel hits the road

blog handel three

Another happy burst of entrepreneurship -- Daria van den Bercken hitched her piano to a truck, and played Handel on the streets of Amsterdam. And with such happy results. People smiled, ran after her, took her photo, clearly enjoying it all. Daria plays wonderfully, which of course doesn't hurt. But it's her happy spirit that -- if you ask me -- really makes this go. Not that it would work if the music and her playing weren't so terrific, but that's not enough to make a hit in public. People have to like you.  And Daria -- whom I had the … [Read more...]

Promoting with gusto

From a reader

Yesterday I posted an email from conductor Rebecca Smithorn, about the chamber orchestra she calls Ad Hoc (because Ad Hoc is how it functions -- informally, taking things as they come, and telling the audience exactly what accidents led to each performance being what it is). An entrepreneurial enterprise, if ever I've seen one. Especially if you think -- as I do -- that an entrepreneur needs to create something distinctive. Today I'll offer a much longer email from Chris Dulgan, a South African pianist, who -- as he explains -- conjured an … [Read more...]

“What if we call it what it is?”

From a reader

I raved yesterday about the stories readers tell me about their adventures as entrepreneurs. So, to help start 2012 on a happy note, here's another one, from Rebecca Smithorn, a conductor in Rochester, NY. I love what she emailed, which I'm posting here with her permission. And at the beginning, where Rebecca thanks me -- no, I'm not preening, when I pass even that part of her email on to you. The point isn't that I gave her what turned out to be good advice. No, the point is that any of us, when we reach out to someone else, might hit the … [Read more...]

Relaunched again

My son Rafa -- first smile on camera

The new year has come, and after two months happily devoted to our new baby Rafael, it's time to get back to work. Though not without a Rafa photo. Here he is, smiling, the first of his smiles ever caught on camera. He's just a little past 10 weeks old as I'm writing this. Such a darling! Although I see -- looking back at 2011 -- that I haven't been idle here. Starting on October 4 (11 days before Rafa was born) -- I did 18 posts that I've grouped under the category entrepreneurship, and which got a lot of comment. To see them, click the … [Read more...]