More good news

explosion blog

This from Britain, where there seems to be an explosion of younger people going to hear classical music, and many of them especially like contemporary -- even avant-garde -- classical music I've been aware of this for some time -- note my blog posts after my visit to London last year, about the Roundhouse, a pop venue, where classical concerts draw a big pop-oriented audience, and about the large crowds for a festival of music by Steve Reich and younger composers identified as his successors. Produced, I might add, by the London … [Read more...]

Alec Baldwin shows us the way


I'm going to be posting a lot about the future -- or, rather, about how to make classical music ready for the future. And, especially, how to make classical music institutions ready. A lot of what we need to think about involves the culture around us -- the culture into which classical music needs to expand, if we're going to find more audience. I know this idea isn't always welcome, but think about it. If we want to attract people who don't now listen to classical music, who are they? Clearly they're people who live in our … [Read more...]

Thinking bigger — Grammy post followup

blog growth

  I'm all for growing our niche audiences incrementally, using the Grammy awards for whatever they can get us. But we shouldn't be satisfied with incremental growth. We're ready to explode. Let's go for it! I'm surprised -- but happy -- about how much comment my Grammy post got, the post in which I said the classical Grammys didn't matter much. And I got a lot of pushback. Yes, the Grammys matter. They're recognition for recordings that might not otherwise get it (or at least not so prominently). The Grammys help with promotion -- if … [Read more...]

Why the classical Grammys don’t matter

Who is this man?

Well, maybe they give their winners bragging rights, or a small -- tiny? -- commercial boost. But in any larger musical, cultural, or commercial sense they don't matter at all. Not because awards shows might be silly, or because winning an award might be no guarantee of artistic strength, or because (as some people might think) classical music itself might not matter. No, the classical Grammys don't matter because hardly anyone -- including classical music fans -- hears most of the recordings that are nominated, so there's no context … [Read more...]

Good news from Toronto

blog tso

I talk a lot about problems with classical music, and maybe don't say enough that what I really care about is classical music's rebirth. Which -- knock on any wood-like substance available -- seems to be happening. For instance: The Toronto Symphony says it has an amazingly young audience. More than one-third of it is younger than 35! I read this some months ago in a story that appeared late in June, in the Culture Monster page on the Los Angeles Times website. And then was surprised to see that the story -- in journalist-speak -- … [Read more...]

Philharmonic clarification

From a reader

Turns out that the empty branding of Alan Gilbert -- as a New Yorker, when nothing much about him or the New York Philharmonic says "New York" -- wasn't the Philharmonic's doing. It comes from their chief corporate sponsor, Credit Suisse. I'm reminded of what can happen when, let's say, a pop or classical star has her own publicist, but also works with record labels or performing institutions that have publicists of their own. The publicists don't always agree on what should be done. (And don't get me started on the conductor whose parents … [Read more...]

Empty branding

blog new york blimp

The New York Philharmonic supports WNYC, New York's public radio station. And so they get little quasi-commercials sprinkled into the station's shows. In which they tout Alan Gilbert as the first Philharmonic music director born and bred in New York. And so now I must tell my friends at the Philharmonic that this is pointless. If Alan Gilbert comes from New York, what difference does that make? Just about none, I'd think. Because it's not as if Alan -- in his work as music director, in his programming, for instance, or for that matter in … [Read more...]

Watch out for packaging

blog design

A marvelous comment, on one of my previous branding posts, from Gerald Klickstein. So many thanks for this: In my teaching of music entrepreneurship, I make a distinction between 'branding' and 'packaging.' I.e., in a nutshell, a brand is like a mission or promise - think of the Kronos Quartet - it derives from artists' true values (those 'inner' qualities you refer to). When packaging supports the mission, it resonates; when it doesn't, it confuses or, worse, comes across as shallow. Beautifully put. And likewise this, from Curtis … [Read more...]