Classical music goes new-school

Mark Antony Owen
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Classical music goes new-school

Post by Mark Antony Owen » Sat Jun 10, 2006 2:49 am

Classical music goes new-school on Web0-4734

By T.J. Medrek/ Music
Saturday, June 10, 2006

What are classical music stars like soprano Deborah Voigt and violin superstar Itzhak Perlman doing in my space? Uh,, that is. Common wisdom has it that the social networking Web site is primarily a hangout for teenagers and 20-somethings, where middle-aged cops can entrap pervs preying on teenagers.

But savvy classical music marketers are discovering that if you want to attract young people, you’ve got to go where they are. Thus MySpace is becoming a valuable marketing tool for some of today’s biggest classical stars - and is poised to be even more important as young musicians promote their own careers.

MySpace pages for established classical stars are primarily driven by the artists’ record labels. But spreading the classical word through MySpace belongs to the up-and-coming generation, according to Glenn Petry, a publicist with New York-based 21C Media Group that promotes the work of stars like Voigt and younger, emerging artists.

“The people who will benefit the most from it will be the upcoming generation of performers and composers who are directly communicating with their audience,” Petry said. “I’m shocked by how many young, aspiring opera singers have very earnest (MySpace) pages with very dramatic photos. They’re already developing their own images in ways that singers of the past never had to.”

It’s working for Carlos Rafael Rivera, a California-based rock and classical composer in his early 30s. Rivera put his page (RiveraMusic) on last July. Soon his ever-expanding network of site friends, their friends, their friends’ friends, etc., brought Rivera in contact with local composers and musicians he wouldn’t have met otherwise, landing him several gigs.

Rivera is excited about the possibilities that MySpace’s built-in music player offers to simply get musicians heard. “The greatest thing that’s happening now is I’m getting plays every day,” he said. “And it plays the music and shows the traffic in a way that a Web site that was personal wouldn’t without a lot of extras. That’s so 1999, such a different way of thinking.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility whenever I go and meet people to ask, ‘Why are you not on MySpace?’ It’s given me an amazing time. I have requests for my music from ensembles I never would’ve known. This is very much the best way I’ve found to reach a broader audience,” he added.

The power of MySpace has not gone unnoticed by smaller classical music organizations with limited marketing budgets, like the enterprising Opera Boston, which has a page under development.

The company’s marketing director, Will Chapman, described the page as “in the embryonic stage,” with a bells-and-whistles version being developed.

“We’re tinkering with it, trying to figure out how to make it really work for us and for the people who use it,” he said. “It’s clear to us that you can’t rely on the tried-and-true things that we’ve used in the past to penetrate the consciousness of people 25 and under.”
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jun 10, 2006 4:11 pm

Good to know MySpace isn't just the site of choice for online sexual predators.

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