Marketing Conductors

Working again on the Perceval’s Shadow second draft this week and thinking about American society.  We are a marketing society.  We market anything and everything.  Marketing + Sales = Profit.  We even market ourselves on dating websites!  As a writer, I’ve been reading more and more in writing trade publications about the need for writers to establish a “brand” in order to get the attention of agents and publishers.  We are marketing our writing to the people who market it to the people who publish the writing and market it to the general public.  Whew!

A friction exists in the arts regarding marketing/sales and the creation of art.  In order to sell a work of art, say, a novel, it’s not enough that it’s a good, original story.  It must fit into a marketing niche.  So, in order to get published, writers might write to a marketing niche to make it easier to get noticed.  Marketers establish these niches, not writers.  The way I see it, marketing tends to restrict and constrict creativity and experimentation through these marketing niches.  Sure, it’s possible to work within the confines of the niche and be creative and original, but what if a writer wants to follow his imagination and not marketing guidelines?

I have yet to see symphony orchestras organized into marketing niches, although the classical music world does tend to organize them according to operating budgets and rank them according to their artistic quality and accomplishments.  I have seen the niche marketing mentality starting to affect conductors.  Ten years ago, you would not have seen many professional websites for conductors, composers and other musicians.  Now, they have websites, blogs, a social media presence and fan pages.  I’ve also found a website called Instant Encore that brings fans and musicians together, lists concerts, offers music and videos and allows musicians to have a website under their auspices.  Fans can follow their favorite musicians or musical ensembles, receiving notifications of what’s on the web about them.  I haven’t even begun to explore this site and its possibilities.  Here is an example for the pianist Stephen Hough.  For comparison, here is Stephen Hough’s official website which is not part of Instant Encore.  I have also seen some musicians at LinkedIn.

At one point, I considered starting a Facebook fan page for Evan Quinn.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll do it or not.  But I am thinking of how his artist manager, Nigel Fox, will approach marketing Evan and how much Evan will need to participate in that.  I look at busy conductors and I’d guess that they don’t have much time to spend online, and yet Leonard Slatkin has a blog with the Detroit Symphony, and Sarah Hicks contributes to a blog for the Minnesota Orchestra.  I suspect that Evan would prefer to have Nigel deal with all the marketing stuff and leave him alone to handle the artistic side.  Unfortunately, marketing leaks into that artistic side.  For example, media interviews to promote a conductor’s concerts with an orchestra.  This is a marketing task that’s been around for years.  And now, an orchestra might also make a video to upload on its website to promote a concert — a conductor talking about a specific work on the program for example.  Evan will be doing tasks like these, of course.  But what about an online presence that he manages himself like a blog, website or Facebook page?

In the first novel, Perceval’s Secret, Evan must deal with an abundance of technology that he’s not familiar with despite limited access to the internet professionally and a familiarity with computers.  I am tempted to give Evan a tablet computer in the second novel, something he can carry with him — although not a smart phone.  He’s adamant about keeping a lot of gadgets out of his life and he wants a cell phone that he uses as a phone and nothing more.  I’m thinking of having Nigel, in frustration, give him the tablet so he can monitor the website Nigel has created for him and maintains with his staff including a blog, and perhaps something in social media.  He’ll also need e-mail accounts that he’d need to monitor, too.

I’m sure there are old school conductors who have little to do with all the internet possibilities for connection and marketing.  But in 2048-49, I see the internet as integral to life, especially business and professional lives.  However, Evan is and will remain a staunch believer in the advantages of low tech….


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