Often I have mentioned ways in which Contemporary Classical Music needs to change in order to gain a larger share of the modern audience. And yet, there are some aspects of the modern marketing approach that I'm not sure are all that beneficial. It's working, but at what cost?
Sex - that's right, sex sells. It always has (and always will). For years the pop industry and put scantly clad females on display, regardless of the relevance to the music - because a bit of female flesh gets the attention of the male audience. Attention leads to sales and therefore profits. Now, it seems, classical music is taking a page (or three) from this book.
The Electric String Quartet is a group of 4 women, all very shapely, and if not quite size Zero, certainly very slender and easy on the eyes. Their music is classical, with electronics. They are reported to be some of the best string players in London, and certainly they are good; their shows are very entertaining - and they definitely have style. But, there is as much attention paid to their figures in the videos as there is to their music. Hilary Hahn, Nicola Benedetti, and Tasmin Little are three amazing violinists. While all three are absolutely amazing to listen to, they also tend to be marketed with an eye toward their appearance - all of these ladies are lovely.
I guess this leads me to wonder, are women just that much better at music than men? Certainly all of the women mentioned above are very good musicians, but if they weren't also very good looking would they get the same attention? While I am pleased at the fame they have each achieved... what sort of message is it sending to the youth you might be interested in studying music???
Yet, the Electric String Quartet and Nicola Benedetti are getting huge amounts of press in the UK and packing the houses when they perform. While I've not been to a concert featuring Hilary Hahn, I am sure she is doing the same thing. Tasmin Little is less well known, but in her own circle garnering a following of music lovers of her own. So, maybe this isn't such a bad thing.
Kim Sun-wook is a pianist from Korea and often publicize with a boyish sex-appeal. Daniel Okulitch in "The Fly" spends a fair amount of time on stage naked which got as much press as his voice. Men aren't necessarily excluded from the flesh marketing in classical music.
I'm undecided as to whether I should be concerned about this trend in marketing of Contemporary Classical Music. On one hand it get people in the door and that's a good thing. On the other, it objectifies the body when it ought to be about the music. I haven't spoken with any of these performers to see how they feel, as to whether they feel their appearance has too much focus. - Maybe one of them will read this post and feel encouraged to comment....