One of my pet peeves is the insane and fruitless pursuit of new audiences with marketing techniques that are so insincere and gimmicky, that we end up losing audiences! From Guitar Hero contests to DJ’s at an Opera house to $50,000 being spent on a cupcake program, it seems we try to do anything we can to pretend we don’t play concerts but just have big classical raves. However a student brought to my class something that is on the surface a gimmick, but actually is a sincere link between pop culture and the classical era….
(Warning: Tracks that I recorded a long time ago appear on a compilation album (unbeknownst to me) and the cover that appears below this post is a little PG13…the original album was for children!)
Zombies are big again (check out the Walking Dead on AMC, brilliant!) and Naxos recently came out with a digital Classical album out to try to capitalize on the resurgence of our brain eating friends with:
An article in the LA Times goes into detail on the thinking behind it and on the album there are works linked to death and resurrection from composers such as Lutoslawski, Faure, Tallis and many more, 20 tracks in all. I myself like to program thematically not to sensationalize but to find sincere links between works to give a program some kind of narrative, and most importantly relevance to people and their world. I see this more about accessibility or as the Naxos COO says below, an entry point: (from the article)
“I could come out with something pretentious about using this to bring classical music to more people, but that’s not really the goal here,” he said. “[We’re making] products that are fun and that people are interested in. Most people like classical music to some degree. The struggle is often finding an entry point, a product that will give people something they can relate to.”
This is the kind of thinking and approach we need, not to set expectations for sales to an impossible threshold but to find a way to reach people and to be sincere. People like Zombies and people like Music, so they found an obvious link. My hat (or head!) is off to him for this. The best part about it, is that they used their catalog, didn’t print a million CD’s but made it digital only and probably only had to pay for the “cover”, so a very inexpensive idea but rich in creativity. Creativity is the intangible that has been missing. The balance always seems to be to come with an idea and then spend a fortune before testing it out, and then we wonder why we get into trouble. A deep analysis on how much each ticket is costing in marketing dollars at some orchestras is astounding. This kind of spending makes commercial companies go belly up, and has to be a factor why some orchestras are going the same way.
So I declare that Classical Music is now Undead, and may it stay that way forever!!!!
The album below you can get used for 82 cents! Several tracks I recorded with the Adelaide Symphony in 1995 for an album for children called Dream Angels are on this if you can believe that! Other tracks from that same album appear on one called Classical Erotica 2! The Australian Broadcasting Corporation sold the rights to a label over here and so it goes…..