It might seem like our current information glut is without parallel, but throughout history observers have worried about the impact of too much information on our ability to rationally process and make sense of it. When we moved from an oral storytelling culture to print with the invention of the printing press. Or with the invention of the telegraph, which allowed our thoughts to be transmitted … [Read more...]
The UnderTow: What the new Edinburgh Fringe Tells us about a Post-COVID World
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world's largest arts festivals, with over 3 million visitors each August. Last week it announced a series of major reforms to the ways it does business and treats employees and artists. It pledged to work towards lessening its environmental impact, and instituted new rules to "manage the scale" of the festival over the coming years. It's both a recognition … [Read more...]
The UnderTow: The High-flying Oil Industry fears “Demand Destruction.” Should the Arts?
Oil prices are at a record high. And profits are rolling in. But there's an intriguing phenomenon in the oil industry called "demand destruction." It means when prices get too high for too long, consumers invest in alternatives and don't return. The arts have faced their own version of demand destruction when COVID shut down live performances. Is there anything to be learned from how the oil … [Read more...]
The UnderTow: Subscriptions are the New Business Model of Choice. So Why are Subscriptions Failing in the Arts?
Many of the world’s largest companies have opted out of traditional retail transactions in favor of subscription models. Whether it’s software, newspapers, movies, TV, or even food, fashion or cars, subscription schemes are becoming a go-to model. And headlines the past few weeks have been full of stories about what’s happening to subscriber-driven companies – Netflix most of all. So perhaps a … [Read more...]
This Week’s UnderTow: Why are Police Playing Disney Songs? And Why did this Orchestra Fire its Conductor for… Conducting?
This week's podcast of The UnderTow, ArtsJournal's new weekly podcast, features three stories from the past week. Sometimes stories are not exactly about the things they seem to be about at first look. Our first story is one such. You might have seen the headline in ArtsJournal about police in California playing Disney songs while investigating calls and thought "that's odd" and passed it by. And … [Read more...]
Introducing our New Podcast: The UnderTow
We look at a lot of stories at ArtsJournal. And we pick the 20 or so every day we think say something about where the culture is going or how it works. If you're a regular reader of ArtsJournal, you know that our interests range across the arts and the world of creativity, exploring ideas in science, technology and the world around us. One of the reasons ArtsJournal is valuable is that we … [Read more...]
Post-COVID Arts Observations: #3. The Future is Hybrid (or Not)
The past eighteen months while live performance venues were shut down has said a lot about how arts organizations see themselves. During COVID Lockdown Some went into hibernation, not having the resources or in some cases the imagination to go online, or else determining that the live in-person experience was essential to what they do. Others scrambled to get archived performances online or … [Read more...]
#2. Five Observations about COVID and the Arts: The Great Resignation and Beyond
This is the second of five observations about the arts after 18 months of COVID (note I'm not saying "post-"COVID). The first part was on money and the arts. Today I want to focus on a disruption in the labor market and how it will affect the arts. Big Picture Since April, millions and millions of workers have quit their jobs. Record numbers in April, July and August. This after a year when … [Read more...]
Observations on the Arts 18 Months into COVID: Finances
After an 18-month shutdown the arts are opening for live business again. COVID will be a continuing factor, but it's possible to start taking stock of what's changed over a tumultuous period and make some conjectures about going forward. So here's what I'm seeing, based on the thousands of arts stories we sift through in a given week. These observations are also based on dozens of … [Read more...]
ArtsJournal Turned 22 Today: A Chronicle of a Remarkable Cultural Era
Twenty-two years ago today – a Monday just as today is – I added the first stories and launched ArtsJournal. And waited. I emailed everyone I knew and soon there was a trickle of visitors. The idea for the site was simple – not a “news” site in the sense that you would necessarily come here for breaking news about the arts, but a provoker of conversation and a culture of ideas, powered and … [Read more...]
Make Google Pay for Linking to Content? Hmnnn.
Journalism, like the arts, has seen its business models upended. According to the Pew Research Center, advertising revenue in newspapers “fell from $37.8 billion in 2008 to $14.3 billion in 2018, a 62% decline. Newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers dropped by nearly half (47%) between 2008 and 2018, from about 71,000 workers to 38,000.” One could find equally dire equivalents in the arts, … [Read more...]
How Has Technology Changed Orchestras? — My Talk for the League of American Orchestras Conference
I was asked to deliver a "provocation" for this week's League of American Orchestras annual conference with the prompt "How has Technology Changed Orchestras Forever?" Here's a transcript of the talk, and, at the bottom of this page, the video: Hi. I’m not sure how smart it is to attack the premise of the session you’ve been asked to be part of, but I was asked for a provocation, so here … [Read more...]
Business Models and a $9 Billion Idea
NOTE: This is the first of five posts with my thinking on addressing long-term problems in the arts. My overview framing of the five can be found here. My case for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the pandemic shutdown offers to reinvent is here. I don't have any easy answers or magic fixes. This is an attempt to organize my observations (from my vantage point) and try to provoke fresh … [Read more...]
Five Things to Fix in the Arts
In the financial crash of ten years ago, the S&P 500 lost almost 60 percent of its value. Millions of people lost their houses and jobs. Entire industries – banking, cars, airlines, housing -- were on the verge of collapse. And yet, if you had wealth, you probably did fine. More than fine actually. For some the crash was a huge opportunity. The auto and banking industries got bailouts, and … [Read more...]
How Technology is Shaping Opera
Opera America had asked me to speak at their annual conference this year, but of course the conference was canceled and moved online. So I made this video for the online conference, talking about the influence of technology on opera and how audience expectations evolve as they use technology. We've marveled at the speed of change in our lives over the past twenty years because of technology, but … [Read more...]