Monday, July 02, 2012
Newton's third law also applies to arts marketing
Newton's third law of motion tells us that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. It is a law of physics, but, as reader comments on my recent post about Candace Allen's new book Soul Music remind us, Newton's axiom also applies to arts marketing. The promotion of Soul Music is just one example of the frantic hype that now accompanies almost every event in the arts world, and which generates an inevitable opposite reaction. Views may differ as to whether the hype is well intentioned or self-serving, but there is no doubt that the omnipresent rodomontade is alienating an important audience segment. Let me explain...
In his pre-social media book Hermits Peter France reflects on how humans crave popular acceptance via social networks, yet also value the wisdom of hermits who live outside those networks. He goes on to describe how "Hermits have built up a great reputation not only, as might be expected, for heroic asceticism or spirituality, but for insights into the way of the world".
Hermits exist in the material as well as spiritual realm, and arts marketing is neglecting an important market - the new hermits. These hermits have a clear insight into the way of the world, which means they are sceptical about any kind of social network, and realise that the PR industry, like bankers, cannot be trusted. But despite their unsocial habits the new hermits represent a valuable market, because they are taste makers as well as prolific spenders. They also happen to be well represented in the not insubstantial On An Overgrown Path readership, as those comments on my Soul Music post show.
Arts marketing faces a major challenge, because the hermits are difficult to influence, react adversely to hype, and have figured out that classical music triggering social change plays better at the box office than classical music consorting with a totalitarian regime. These new hermits do appreciate that music education is a powerful life force. But they also realise that the integrity of music education and much else is being threatened by inappropriate marketing. How long before classical music realises that hype is as passé as bankers' bonuses?
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