Many areas of music are shifting in the digital age. What’s interesting is that a lot of the changes have been used for years in the classical world. Some of the brightest ideas that purveyors of pop music are trying are pretty similar to what is done with regularity in the often forgotten world of composers and symphonies. Here are five of the signs that if the trend keeps going, you might be wearing tuxedos and gowns to your next rock concert:
1) Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign has 10,000+ fans shelling out $50 on average for her new material. As of this writing, 418 people have shelled out $300 or more. For the most part, those 418 people are driving the majority of the successful funding. Nearly every classical venue relies on wealthy patrons shelling out similar dollars to keep the concerts going. Amanda’s success will only inspire more artists to venture into benefactors…ahem, excuse me…fan funding.
2) OK Go and EMI no longer see eye to eye. The band leaves the label and gets their first video funded by State Farm Insurance. While corporate sponsors and bands are nothing new (nor is product placement in videos), this was the first time such a relationship was used to fund a band’s venture into the indie world. The fact that an indie act could get such sponsorship is akin to independent concert halls around the country who get the same. Classical organizations can be big groups in their own right, but they’re not all owned by one company. These indie venues rely on corporations to fund specific events as well.
3) Maxwell announced a few weeks ago that he would be performing his classic albums in full at some upcoming concerts. This may not seem notable, but I can’t recall an Urban artist jumping on this trend. Now that the “play the album” trend has spread outside of rock, it’s worth noting that this is not new in classical. If you go to a symphonic concert, you know which works will be playing before you arrive. It wasn’t long ago that you didn’t know what a band would play when you saw them, though you presumed they’d play “the hits”. Now you know a major part of the program before you buy your ticket. Just like they do at the symphony.
4) Many articles in recent months have talked about vinyl’s resurgence. One of the reasons most cited is the sonic quality that vinyl offers but MP3s do not. Caring about the sound of the music is a hallmark of the classical listener. While there have been periods of pop music’s sound quality being a concern, it hasn’t seem as pronounced as it is now. Typically, the young pop fan never really cared. Now they care about it. Throw in the quality of Beats headphones and the audiophile discussions rank up there with those who appreciate a good Mahler.
5) Jack White has been at the forefront of the vinyl movement. But taking it a step further, he offers singles for sale on his website in two series: the Blue Series of artists traveling thru Nashville and the Green Series of non-music related items. Deciding which series to support feels very similar to the packages of concerts one would purchase for the classical season. Do we go symphonic? Chamber? Bundling like-minded items from one organization under one umbrella spurs awareness and sales. Something that has been successful for classical organizations for years.