Is Social Media Important to Classical Music? The discussion continues

Jo Johnson, Digital Marketing Manager for the London Symphony Orchestra, replied to my previous post:

Classical Music continues to lag behind in social media

My reply was too lengthy to put into a comment field.

Jo -
Thank you for you Excellent Reply!

The London Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony and San Francisco Symphony are some of the shinning examples of organizations that are succeeding with out-reach into Social Media. You really are out there engaging.

Yes, orchestra musicians may not be as engaged in social media as their 'pop' counter parts. But we live in a world where people question the value of the arts. Here in the US, orchestras are finding an attitude of "why should we support classical music, when pop music doesn't?" I am not trying to argue the value of classical music (I am very much a member of that choir). However, if those of us involved do not beat our own drum, how can we honestly expect other's to do it for us? A struggling pop band will devote countless hours pushing their music onto anyone who will listen, in the hopes that someday someone of note will notice and give them the break they need.

Traditional music has always been slow to adapt. We mark the shift from Baroque to Classical era music, yet we also know there is a nebulous period when the 'old' music was still in vogue, while the new music was gaining in popularity. We mark Beethoven's "Eroica" as the start of the Romantic era, but it was a much slower process than just the presentation of one piece of music.

We are in the internet age now - an age where styles, attitudes and trends can shift day to day. Anything truly worthwhile will stand the test of time - classical music has proven its value. But currency of a hundred years ago doesn't spend the same today. While we will always have art music, the form that music is in 50 years from now may well depend on how devoted we, who want to see orchestra music thrive, are to its survival. People, like yourself, need to be willing to adapt, to change, to stay ahead, to keep classical music in the forefront. The orchestras I mentioned were not random chance, rather because they are the ones making the changes that need to be made in the media market of today. I applaud you!

Far from giving up, I am calling musicians to stand up and take notice. Calling more musicians to become active, to make their voices heard. You say "Pop is always going to beat classical at the numbers game," but I disagree. Film and game music are one of the fastest growing markets in digital downloads. These are not the pop scores, but orchestral music driving this market. The young(er) generation is interested in a richer music experience, and far more diverse in their tastes than one radio station would lead you to believe. Downloadable music, YouTube and the internet in general gives people the ability to be more discerning, rather than less. They no longer need to just settle for what's playing at the concert hall.

In survey's of recognizable tunes, a far greater percentage of people will recognize a melody by Beethoven or Mozart than any pop artist of the last 100 years. It may not be their first choice of music, but they are more familiar with it than any other type of music. I believe classical music can be more popular than it is - even give pop music a run for its money (literally speaking). But this isn't going to happen if we just sit and play in our concert hall.

Do you remember May 12th, 2012 and the BMW Open Air Concert in Trafalgar Square? There were so many people they had to post barricades to do crowd control. LSO showed (once again) the power of classical music is far more popular than current market statistics lead us to believe.

The LSO has 102k people following on Twitter, 58k following on Facebook. Is that just because London is more cultural than American cities with similar populations? No, it's because YOU engage your audience on social media.

Am I faulting the musicians for a lack of engagement? Yes and no. While I understand why many of them are not engaged, I believe more of them could be. More musicians have Facebook and Twitter accounts than actively participate on their orchestras pages. Some musicians will never make the transition, but others are already using Facebook and Twitter, but surprisingly silent when it comes to their orchestra (at least it's surprising to me).

Hardly a week goes by where some news article reports the fiscal troubles of this orchestra or that. If orchestras really are struggling financially, then it is in the musicians best interests to get involved, to start beating their drums on street corners and on the internet.

The article you replied to, Classical Music continues to lag behind in social media, has been extremely popular. Musicians from all over re-tweeted, shared and reposted the story. This is a GOOD thing. Musicians all over are saying they want to be involved. Continue to say that. Tell your fellow musicians to be involved.

I am a rabid classical music fan. I didn't post the original 'rant' to complain about the LSO's lack of effort, to say how disappointed I am at their lack of concern. You are a shinning example of what's right. More orchestras need to follow your lead. More musicians need to step and get involved. More people need to express how they feel about classical music - to share their thoughts and impression with their friends on the internet. It's not enough to just go to the concert hall. Tell your Facebook friends you're going. Check in with Foursquare and tweet about your experience when you're done.


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