Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Classical music's new saviour is gourmet pizza


Slipped Disc blames poor classical attendances at Croydon's Faifield Halls on the lousy quality of the pizzas sold there. These poor classical attendances are, of course, nothing to do with the gross oversupply of classical music triggered by streaming services such as Idagio. Which, incidentally, Slipped Disc partners with.

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4 comments:

Jeff said...

Respectfully, the idea that there is a "gross oversupply of classical music" and this is harming live concert ticket sales has no basis in fact. (Yes, I read the link to the 2014 post.) Where is this "indisputable evidence" that doesn't conflate correlation and causation?

Pliable said...

Jeff, the linked 2014 post you refer to actually says "Indisputable data shows that audiences for classical music are shrinking" and that is supported by a link to hard data on the loss of classical radio audience.

You are correct that there is, to my knowledge, no objective research showing that the unlimited availability of classical music via streaming and other new technologies is harming concert attendances. But neither is there any objective research showing that this unlimited availability of classical music is not harming concert attendances. The absence of any research on this is puzzling given the classical music industry's preoccupation with new audiences.

A comment on that Slipped Disc post says "I think this issue is bigger than just the Fairfield Hall programming and marketing strategy. I’ve been to concerts by the LPO at the Royal Festival Hall which have been barely half full". To keep this thread constructive I would be interested to hear your views on why live classical music away from the celebrity circuit appears to be struggling to attract an audience.

Jeff said...

The available data -- which is admittedly for mainstream music, not classical, but it's the only data we have as far as I can find -- actually supports the opposite of your conclusion: streaming music is a good marketing channel for artists and ticket sales.

According to Pollstar, average concert ticket prices grew steadily from 2008, when the average ticket price hovered around $60 USD, to 2018, when it averaged $86 USD. Moreover, musicians are selling more
tickets per concert as well, with 7,327 tickets sold on average in 2008, and 8,637 tickets sold on
average in 2018. See more here. All this in spite of the well documented decline of physical media sales and rise of streaming music services like Spotify.

To answer your question, I do blame poor old-school marketing combined with adherence to stodgy traditions that keep new audiences away from classical music. For more on this topic, see what Aubrey Bergauer is doing in the US to build a tremendous track record of growing audiences and creating more solid, future-ready foundations for classical music organizations.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

in reference to the history of popular music Elijah Wald pointed out that with the advent of radio the market for live gigs took a serious hit in the first decade of radio. It took a while for the gig economy of that era to bounce back and some of that involved sound differentiation. Perhaps streaming is a radio 4.7 or something that has tipped the scales away from live music in a way that was happening in the last century. Live performance could theoretically bounce back or institutional changes may mean that "classical music" moves along but not necessarily in a symphonic context.

I haven't gone to a symphony concert in years and it's not because I have no fondness for symphonic music (I adore the symphonies of Haydn, and I learned about the Nielsen cycle reading this blog and am looking forward to hearing it). For folks who are unable to drive and have to take public transit live music involves as much time on buses as can be spent in a concert if weekend traffic is bad, whereas digital music can be downloaded at home. Add to that that if someone has a niche interest such as chamber music for guitar and contrapuntal music, where does a person go even in a city as large as Seattle to hear music by the contemporary guitarist composer Atanas Ourkouzounov or hear Ferdinand Rebay's chamber works for guitar? As it happens, Naxos has released a great album of Atanas Ourkouzounov's five guitar sonatas late last year and Brilliant Classics put out some good recordings of the Rebay sonatas for clarinet and guitar. There's plenty of interesting music that can be heard digitally that is almost impossible to hear live.

As a guitarist I may be biased but what if the age of the symphony has passed? I've wondered whether the symphony may be like the polyphonic mass, a venerable and rich art form that reached its peak in social and aesthetic prestige centuries ago but which is now far more niche than its passionate partisans may be willing to concede.