With the Advent of Social Media, should a composer leveraging his online presence to get recognition be considered Maverick?
On March 12th, WQXR posted a poll asking their readers/listeners to respond with their suggestions for: "some of your favorite music by 'maverick' American composers... Your suggestions will be played on Q2 Music as part of the final day (March 30) of our festival celebrating the maverick spirit in American classical music."
In an era where online polls are common place should we worry about social media skewing the results?
Awesome, I thought, some Maverick composer is going to get their music played on the radio. This will be a chance for new and unknown composers to get some recognition.
Most polls on the internet now try and include ways to throw out duplicate ip addresses, or accounts that suspiciously look to come from the same person. Although there isn't any warnings on the WQXR posting about only one vote per person, the results don't seem to have any of those issues. We are in an age where social media means people can spread the word quickly around the world, and responses to an open poll can be skewed by one popular person simply by suggesting their friends and family vote.
I'm a composer and I have friends across the globe. When I heard about this contest, I put out the word and got a number of friends to respond. Thirteen of the posted nineteen poll responses on the WQXR site were comments naming me as an American Maverick composer. If you tally up the votes for individual pieces the responses are even more lopsided. Clearly, according to the stated intentions of the poll, one of my pieces should have been played on the March 30th Broadcast.
Unfortunately, that did not happen.
The poll was posted and then seemingly forgotten.
I wrote an email to WQXR on April 1st, asking what happened to the poll. Their automated response says I should wait 24-48 hours for a response. It's well over 48 hours later and nothing --silence. They don't have a blog post about it. There wasn't anything in their programming about it. They haven't responded to an email. Nothing.
Now, I suspect they put up the poll as a good idea to spark conversations about what a Maverick composer really means. If you read some of the comments, there are plenty of suggestions. So, in that regard they got a response. However, I'm an unknown composer. I don't fit into that box they have of people already on their playlist. Maybe that's because I'm an unknown Maverick?
While I appreciate the dilemma for WQXR --what do they do with a poll that suggests they play a composer they know nothing about? In my opinion, they at least try to learn something about that composer. In searching for a maverick, sometimes a cowboy has to leave the herd. WQXR should have been brave enough to play pieces voted for in the poll. If they found those pieces to be lacking, they could have chalked it up to the power of Social Media. Like it or not, the internet is playing a role in the future of music for composers and musicians alike; that is where today's mavericks are to be found!