In this week's New Yorker, there is an article about James Dyson, the inventor of the vacuum that bears his name, written by John Seabrook. In one section he talks about the initial US launch of the vacuum. When it came to the US in 2002, most retailers were selling cheap vacuums that sold for about $100, and here was the Dyson priced at $399. It seemed absurd. Who would spend that much on a vacuum?!?!? Yet, within the first months of it being on the market it sold 10 times the initial projections, and went from being carried in one chain store, to six. What was it that made it so successful? Dyson knew that by sticking to his guts and trusting the design and capability of the vacuum, people would come to realize just how much better his product was. Seabrook states that;
"Dyson had grasped what the companies trying to make hundred-dollar vacuum cleaners had forgotten: that a lot of people... are willing to pay a premium for a machine that will deliver an emotional experience."
Doesn't that just say it all. We, as musicians, don't need to change our product, we need to re-brand ourselves! We have a product that has been tested over hundreds of years and packs a strong "emotional experience", but we've put it in an old ratty box. We need to run away from the old ideology that makes classical music about being "intelligent" or not; "educated" or not; "cultured" or not. We need to remind people that art music is about life, about love, about loss, about grief and joy. We need to help people connect with the music we love, and have honest emotional experiences.