There’s a lot of pessimism and hand-wringing about the present situation of classical music. Yes, classical face immense challenges in their music career today, as society and culture surrounding us evolve rapidly. A few demographic studies reveal that the United States population is more diverse and older than what it was back in the 1950s. The revolution in communications in the 21st century implies that we now have more leisure time options, which can be availed from the comfort of one’s home. Hence, it takes something unique for people to get away from home and attend live events, be it a sporting event or a classical music show.
All this implies that today, classical music has more competition. No wonder there’s a significant decline in the number of adults attending classical music shows. Furthermore, several performing arts companies find it challenging to maintain their budgets as they’re selling lesser tickets than before.
However, that is just half the story. The flip side here is that though positions in traditional fields such as education, chamber ensembles, and orchestras are very competitive, jobs for classical musicians exist even today. So let’s get to know what a 21st century musician can do to have a better career.
Thanks to advancing technology, musicians can directly connect with the audience and build support for recordings, scores, and concerts. The internet offers several ways to engage with the audience: videos, written content, blogs, and meaningful interactions with the fans via social media and website.
The aim is not to get more hits on a site but bring people to attend live shows instead so that they share the experience. Record companies consider the online presence of a musician, the fan following, no. of views, and how actively he/she interacts with the audience as the success indicator.
New music scene:
People search for a spot on the web to find the kind of transformational experience music can offer. And music composers and performers are ready to share music, interact with the audience, and collaborate.
There’s a new music scenario where music composers and performers like Metropolis and The Knights provide exciting music to a younger crowd. They’ve expanded to other locations than the concert halls. And while the present younger audience might not be aware of the classical tradition like their parents, they’re music fanatics and can be called to other venues where a 21st century musician can talk to them effectively and engage them as well.
Musicians can create a successful music career by using crowdsourcing technology to fundraise from the fans directly via channels such as RocketHub, IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and more. These sites enable the musicians to raise funds for their music by asking fans for contributions and by offering incentives to them for every contribution. Kickstarter raised almost $20mn in 2011 for more than 3600 music-based projects from more than 45,000 backers. It shows that crowdsourced funds are something that needs to be considered.
New recording paradigm:
The music recording industry witnessed turmoil, and with lesser support for classical music artists and commercial classical music, there’s less money that can be earned by selling recorded music. But still, the 21st century musician can release their music recordings sans the need for a recording agreement or a middleman.
Furthermore, the advancing technology is creating new streams of revenue for music performers and composers. For instance, they can earn from the sales of the downloaded albums or tracks from Amazon, iTunes, etc. Though these streams are not that lucrative as the conventional recording agreements, we’re only starting to see their potential.
So, what’s the scope for the 21st century musician? Besides the traditional work opportunities, there’s an entire world that we need to start tapping into. In the ever-changing world, we might not have answers to every question, but what we do have is the chance to make something new.