Getting out of the classical music biz

mavericks blog

Here I want to offer a radical idea: That all of us in classical music should get out of the classical music business. As I stressed at the end of my last post, this doesn't mean we should stop doing classical music. It means we should think about it differently. Here's an example. Someone I know, a veteran arts professional with a sterling resume (among other things, he ran one of the leading performing arts institutions in the US), emailed me about something he found dismaying at the New York Philharmonic. Alan Gilbert was about to conduct … [Read more...]

Concerts as events

event blog

Conversation with a friend who works for a big orchestra. We're talking about attracting a new audience. He says they're identifying classically-inclined nonattenders. I say they ought to push beyond that, to attract non-classically inclined nonattenders. That's arguable, of course. Nobody would try to get people who don't now listen to country music to try it. But then country music doesn't need more listeners, as classical music does. Or more people buying tickets to concerts. And the world is full of smart people who are inclined toward … [Read more...]

A challenge!

austin blog

Austin, TX, bills itself as the "live music capital of the world." That's one thing I learned visiting there last week, to speak to students at the University of Texas School of Music. And — you saw this coming — classical music, including all the concerts given at the school, plays almost no part in Austin's live music scene. Everyone I talked to at the school said this. So there's a challenge for us. If we have a music school surrounded by what might really be the most active live music life anywhere, let's make the school part of … [Read more...]

Learning from Taylor Swift

Swift blog

Or from her marketers. I've said before that commercial marketing has gone in new directions, and that we can learn from that. The Hunger Games film, for instance -- even though it was just about guaranteed to be a hit -- launched an extraordinary campaign to get fans (who already loved the book the film's based on) to promote the movie to each other. Follow the link above for more on that. And now comes Taylor Swift, with a new album, and a marketing campaign based in part on retail tie-ins -- Walmart, Target, Papa John's, Walgreen's. The … [Read more...]

Visiting Austin

ut blog

I'll be in Austin on Thursday (that's November 8), to speak to classes at the University of Texas. Don't think I'll have any public availability, which is a shame. I'd love to meet any readers who might be in the area. My host in Austin will be Robert Freeman, former director of the Eastman School, and founder of the entrepreneurship program there, which (as far as I know) is the oldest found in any music school in the US. It'll be a pleasure to meet Bob for the first time in person. Future trips this year might include Colorado and … [Read more...]

Triple whammy

storm 2 blog

I'm sure this is something we all know about — the management/musician disputes that have hit one orchestra after another,  leading to seasons not starting on time, with no clear sense, in some cases, of when they ever might start. Tony Woodcock (president of New England Conservatory, and former CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra) in a blog post mentions Atlanta, Minnesota, Chicago, Indianapolis, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (where all concerts to the end of 2012 have been cancelled), and Jacksonville. To which we can add Spokane, where a … [Read more...]

More history

music history blog

Here — from a 1975 book by George Seltzer, The Professional Symphony Orchestra in the United States — is another bit of history. (To go along with the 1951 scene of audiences applauding after each movement of a piece, that I shared in my last post.) Seltzer's book is a collection of many articles, some short, some quite long, including a New Yorker piece from 1960 (if I remember correctly; I don't have the book with me) by Joseph Wechsler that gives the best account of what it's like to play an orchestra piece -— from the musicians' point of … [Read more...]