Tag Archives | Classical Music Magazine

How These Reports Confirm Some Unfortunate Truths

Percentage_DigitalWith four operas to learn for work later this year and upcoming concerts, I wasn’t planning to write another post this month, but two disjunct articles I read this week captured my attention if only because they confirmed what is known, but often pushed under the metaphorical carpet due to their indigestiblity in the classical music industry.

The first is an excellent piece from Arts Professional (22 February) entitled ‘Senior arts staff sidelining digital work, research finds’. In summary, the piece finds that digital skills are spread thin in cultural organisations with only one in six of those in the most senior strategic roles identifying web or digital activity as forming a part of their work.

Citing the ArtsPay 2018 survey, senior strategic role employees in cultural organisations have correspondingly less connection with digital and web initiatives than early and mid-career level employees – and the latter’s efforts, collectively, representing on average only 33.5% of total work responsibilities.

The survey further found that only 6% of cultural organisation employees are primarily concerned with developing work across all digital platforms. The findings align with those of a 2017 Nesta survey, in which only 19% of respondents were confident that most of their senior management were knowledgeable about digital technologies, and only 16% were clear that coming up with new digital ideas was a priority for the senior team [Italics mine].

So what do senior strategic roles spend their time doing.  Here’s the graph:


Keeping in mind the above, here are the statistics that really matter [Italics mine]:

The majority of digital activity is taking place in marketing departments. 74% of respondents for whom marketing is the main focus of their role said their work included web/digital activity – a proportion that holds true across early career, mid-level and senior marketing roles. This is also consistent with Nesta’s 2017 research, which found that the most advanced digital skills in arts organisations are in marketing.

What is critical about this?  Observedly, less than a quarter (24%) of those whose primary roles were in artistic direction, programming or curation said web/digital formed a part of their work.

Why is this so important to highlight?  Given the way that millenials and post-millenials engage with myriad options across the cultural sector (if they do at all) the focus of what they see is about selling – as opposed to curating content to engage them toward converting them to accepting the ‘selling’ proposition. Continue Reading →

Streaming Ahead?

StreamingI really do love reading the British trade mag. Classical Music over coffee of a morning once a month or so if only to digest, in that inimitable style only the British can muster, what’s happening in Classical Music and Opera in the UK.

Interesting to note that the Mark Allen Group has bought out this title along with Rhinegold Publishing in recent days.  This is potentially not a good thing in terms of editorial independence, but that’s a subject for a different day.

I’m also somewhat fascinated by the ‘infotorials’ disguised under the banner of ‘guest editing’ in the August edition about music streaming and its growing impact on the classical music sector.  Provided by industry insiders (I have no wish to mention them by name) I can’t quite throw off the feeling I am being conned.

That said, if you want to track down this edition of the magazine, do take careful note of what Becky Lees (Head of LSO Live) and Alexander Van Ingen (CE of The Academy of Ancient Music) have to say; being both insightful, grounded, if not direct and unapologetic.  The rest, however, suffers from a lack of balanced reporting.  There are some vested interests in play. Continue Reading →

Revisiting The Maestro Myth – PART II

ConductorIf I wanted to synthesize an argument and critique about the training opportunities and programs for young orchestral conductors in Australia, it could not be better encapsulated than in this gorgeous quote from conductor, Hannu Lintu, in Toby Deller’s interview with the Finnish maestro published in the January 2014 edition of Classical Music.  Hannu remarks, “In Finland, our system is ideal for young conductors. When you start to study conducting you can get jobs with the biggest orchestras in Finland because they want to be part of our schooling and part of the Finnish conducting tradition.” (Classical Music, January 2014, 36).

If Hannu had trained in Australia, the remark might have easily read, “In Australia, no system exists for training conductors. When you start to study conducting you can’t get a job either for love nor money with the biggest orchestras in Australia because they don’t want to be part of our schooling and part of the Australian conducting tradition – besides the fact, there isn’t one.”  OK, other than this misappropriation – intended with the tongue fully pressed into the cheek – the truth is, that there is a training opportunity, of sorts, in Australia through the Symphony Services Australia ‘Conductor Development Program’.  The problem with this program is that it is simply inadequate.  Sorry, scream and hurl invective all you like, it is an unfortunate and unpalatable truth.  We all know it, we just don’t dare say so, as we all know what happens thereafter behind closed doors in the very ‘cliquey’ Arts world in Australia.

James Rhodes in an article in The Guardian in September 2013 forcefully proclaimed, “The problem with classical music is that the whole industry is so deeply ashamed of itself, so unremittingly apologetic for being involved with an art form seen as irrelevant, privileged and poncey, that it has gone to unfortunate extremes to over-compensate.”  Australia’s efforts to train conductors up to this point similarly smacks of this ashamedness and apologeticism.  ‘We do it, but only because we need to seem to be’ is an uncomfortable actuality and undoubtedly prickles those who would rather evade the issue altogether.   But, let’s be fair: the SSI program has had, or at least overtly proclaims to have had, notable successes.  However, I would argue that most of these ‘notable’ successes came from the successors having lived, studied and worked overseas for lengthy periods – and not from the disjointed, part-time, and curriculum deficient training that substitutes for training budding maestri in Australia.

So what is the answer? Continue Reading →