I often rant about the need for more musicians to Tweet and Post about their involvement with the orchestras they play. I may be changing my tune
Post after post I have railed at the musicians who don't talk about what they're doing in terms of orchestra performance. I have gone on and on about how more musicians need to be vocal about classical music, because if we don't who will? And yet, looking back on my own tweets and Facebook posts over the past year I'm not sure I can honestly maintain that diatribe.
For nearly a year I have been the Music Director for TwtrSymphony. The organization was started because of my need for an orchestra and the wealth of musician friends on social media. However, managing an orchestra and the 60+ musicians we have 'on staff' is a great deal of work - so much so, it has impacted my ability to communicate over social media. I have not held conversations with a number of the friends I grew very accustomed to chatting with regularly over Twitter. Many of those people I had become fairly close to seem distant. I watch their streams now and feel out of the loop, out of contact and distant. It's not that I care for them any less, but because I am too busy with other activities that I seem to have fallen off the social media band wagon.
Having said that, I do still tweet and post. I am one of the people tweeting and posting as TwtrSymphony (thank heaven not the only one). I do post on my own timelines, but no where near as prolific as pre-TwtrSymphony. Those posts I do make often have some reference to TwtrSymphony. So, I guess in that regard I am practicing what I preach - spreading the word via social media about the ensemble to which I am affiliated.
One of the precepts of TwtrSymphony is that the musicians are the major portion of the marketing/social media activity for our ensemble. It thrills me to say a large portion of them are very responsive when a call to promote a project come out. Perhaps the best, most recent example is the tweets about Garrett McQueen playing Bassoon with the Detroit Symphony's live broadcast of Beethoven's 9th last Sunday. Leading up to the broadcast I counted at least twelve TwtrSymphony musicians promoting the event. While we were not the only ones talking about it, I couldn't find any Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians who tweeted about the concert. I did catch tweets by Valerie Sobczak (@valerieclaires), Intern at Detroit Symphony, and Eric Woodhams (@ewoodhams) Digital Media Manager for Detroit Symphony, but couldn't identify any musicians from within the ensemble (other than our own Garrett McQueen who plays for both Detroit Symphony and TwtrSymphony). TwtrSymphony created enough chatter about the event, but prior to and during, it caught the attention of Eric Woodhams (and rightfully so - we can make a lot of noise).
My own reflection on my tweets makes me realize I need to go easier on the musicians working for full time orchestras. Their lives are busy, particularly when faced with an event like Beethoven's 9th. Social media isn't (and shouldn't be) the first thing on their mind. I also need to realize that even within my own organization there are some issues with the notion of musicians tweeting about events. We have over 60 musicians involved with TwtrSymphony and yet only a dozen were actively promoting one of their compatriots. Before I can rant again organizations that don't leverage their musicians for social media, TwtrSymphony needs to improve its own processes.
That said, twenty percent of our musicians tweeting about an event that has virtually nothing to do with TwtrSymphony is better than any other orchestra out there tweeting about its own events. So, while I am willing to step down from my soap box (for now), I do challenge orchestras to better engage their musicians via social media. They are the most passionate people you have in your organization. Get them to share that passion over the internet. The more passionate people tweet about classical music, the more that passion will infect other people, thus building our fan base.