Ouch. My Pride.

Over at Proper Discord, one of my posts from 2004 made it to the #5 position in the list of “30 things that won’t save classical music.” Proper Discord’s author asserts “Classical music doesn’t need saving and the only thing that will increase its reach is for the people involved to do their jobs better.” For the most part, I agree with the latter half of that sentiment and would go so far as mentioning that was exactly the point from my article that made the #5 spot…

Granted, based on the title alone, How to Save Classical Music – Step One, most readers wouldn’t assume that was the point but in order to get the people involved to do their jobs better, we need to know what it is they should be doing and how it should be done. Consequently, examining current efforts and results and exploring new directions is a process that can’t be avoided.

Regardless, I found several suggestions on the list are actually quite good and would fall into the category of doing our jobs better; such as increased transparency, improving the physical concert space, and taking full advantage of technological platforms.

On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree that one-off ideas centered around attracting attention via flash in the pan tactics are, at best, monumental wastes of time and, at worst, downright counterproductive. Live animals onstage during Carnival of the Animals might be fun to watch but it will do more to get folks interested in exotic animals than Saint-Saens.

Is there any silver bullet solution that will open the floodgates to unlimited revenue and packed concerts? No. But doing a better job at what we’ve done all along on the business side of things and expecting a different result isn’t very promising either (anyone else feeling a little insane?). Instead, perhaps a better perspective is captured in Adaptistration’s About page.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “Ouch. My Pride.

  1. Hi Drew,

    I put that list together to highlight the enduring popularity of claiming that ideas will save classical music.

    You’re quite right that some of these articles contain genuinely useful suggestions. Yours are among the better ones.

    In an attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff without compromising the unrelentingly sarcastic tone of my website, I’ve created the Music Pundit Deathmatch:

    http://properdiscord.com/2010/03/09/music-pundit-deathmatch-there-can-be-only-one/

    You’ll be pleased to see that you made it to the Quarter-Finals.

    No hard feelings 😉

    PD

  2. No hard feeling? Of course not, and no worries. After thinking about my post from 2005, one of the reasons I used the “save classical music” title was for SEO juice (and it worked). I have no clue if anyone else on the list fell into that category but it might be interesting to find out.

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