Perhaps the classical music world has taken the entirely wrong approach to selling recordings; perhaps the reason they don’t turn a profit is because they’re significantly underpriced. Maybe we should be charging way more—like, three-figure prices per copy. And no, I’m not talking about charging extra for value-added stuff like boxed sets or exclusive tracks, I’m talking about, “Hey, this recording is awesome, so the price is $150.”
Hear me out before you dismiss this as crazy. Inevitably we’ll sell fewer copies if we set a higher price point, but that might not be harmful. In fact it might be a good thing. (more…)
This is the second of my pieces on straightforward, practical ways that institutional arts funders can be more effective. Here, I want to discuss the challenges of evaluating applications in terms of their artistic merit. Naturally, if you’re going to the trouble of funding the arts, you may as well try to fund the good stuff. As such, most funders rightly place artistic merit near the top of their priorities—even programs not specifically aimed at merit usually have an indirect connection via arts education, underserved niches, emerging artists, etc. Given this focus, materials that demonstrate excellence in art making, such as work samples and press clippings, feature prominently in application guidelines.
But noble intentions aside, artistic merit is difficult to judge. It has a tendency to get overshadowed by more objective but less relevant criteria, often without anyone realizing it. When you set out to pick the best applicants, it’s unfortunately not enough to create fair guidelines and lock a bunch of arts professionals in a room. (more…)
Elissa Milne had an interesting article on her blog the other day about audience building, essentially advancing the claim that you build an audience for new music in the same way you build an audience for anything, be it an opera company or a rock band. This is true, but it doesn’t help most musicians—especially new music musicians. It’s very rare to find a person who both creates appealing new music at a high level and has a knack for marketing and self-promotion. Beating the drum of “learn how to sell your music” is technically correct, but it’s also an unrealistic expectation for the vast majority of new music practitioners. So what’s a more practical solution? (more…)
The economics of art is a perennial source of debate. Proponents of funding for the arts usually follow one of two arguments. The first is that art contributes intangibly to society by contributing a reason to live, as opposed to a way to live. The second is that art actually contributes tangibly to the greater economy through the hard work that many artists do for relatively little pay. In contrast, those who oppose funding for the arts argue that funding is waste of money, because valuable art will be able to survive economically on its own anyway: good artists will be in high demand, creating scarcity for their work, and hence ensuring them a commensurate level of income.
But art has never been a good fit to any monetary economy, because money was not really designed to handle art. (more…)
Jason Caslor has a post on his blog today referencing a New York Times article that muses about whether “glitz” or other marketing gimmicks are useful or hurtful for classical music. The musing is in reference to the effect that conductor Gustavo Dudamel‘s flamboyant hair has had on classical music (in conjunction with his musical talents). Is it good for the vitality of orchestras and opera companies on the long run? (more…)