Sunday, January 26, 2014

On the Money....

"...Just 2.8 percent of albums sold in 2013 were categorized as classical. By comparison, rock took 35 percent; R&B 18 percent; soundtracks 4 percent. Only jazz, at 2.3 percent, is more incidental to the business of American music..."

And comparatively speaking what are the marketing budgets, not to mention the synergy, of the popular music industry spends VS the classical music or jazz world? The point is that in the now and the near future “art” music will be outspent by “commercial” music I suspect by at least 10 fold. Period. What does that mean for classical and jazz music? I think we must answer for ourselves. I know what I’m going to do –play some jazz and compose some more serial music.

On reflection I think that  the popular media industry spends more than 10,000 times what classical music spends to market its products.  If this stuff is so popular why market it at all?

My point is this; the attempts to piggyback on popular culture's coattails will continue to fail. The problem is not those gnarly intellectual composers who have lately been thrown under the bus for giving new music a bad name, (and by the way gave new music its name in the first place).  It's folks like David Bowie with his corporate muscle that will always stand as more authentic.  The New York Rock and Roll ensemble and Ars Nova with the strength of Atlantic Records behind them did not sell. I liked them but I suppose that was the problem.

We turn a blind eye to the difference between the musical world, which has discrete parts, and the music business which is monolithic and only concerned with money.  True, when these two ideas intersect interesting things can happen, or not.   The market calls the shots and composers don't control the market anymore.  On the other hand, Classical music is an iceberg and to claim that only the top counts is ludicrous.

 By the way "finding the right balance" is a question  for presenters not composers.

Attempts to make pop musicians film composers has been much more successful than making them opera composers but that's a different topic.

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