I’ve just read this article by composer G.M. Gerraughty, titled SOCIAL MEDIA AS A COMPOSER...IN THE STYLE OF BUZZFEED.
It’s a concise and partly comical piece that expresses a dilemma he perceives of classical music not effectively reaching and interacting with audiences through social media. I assume he means to include, under “classical music,” contemporary art music, since he is a composer. If his attempts to reach an audience through social media actually use the term “classical,” I think this may be part of the difficulty.
“Classical” just sounds like “old”. I, for one, first think “music that is preserved and that people have deemed worthwhile to put great effort into preserving” when I hear the term “classical music.” And, indeed, I do find much of it to be totally worth the efforts and expenses of preserving. But I’m not sure that there is a lot of crossover between the audience that is most enthusiastic about this “classical music” institution and the audience that is eager to see what kind of new cutting edge creative works are breaking out of the established boxes of pop music, jazz, folk, baroque, classical, romantic, or “modern” art music from the turn of the 20th century up to last week. Out of the people I’ve met in my life, those who would fit into both of these these demographics are mostly classically trained musicians (mostly college trained) and a disproportionately large percentage of them are composers.
I think that composers, and performers who are enthusiastic about new art music, would do well to distinguish it from all that can be implied in “classical.” Of course, if it is music that is sticking to the tonal, rhythmic, and formal conventions of the period we call classical (whether that be Baroque through Romantic, Medieval through early 20th century, or just 1750 through 1820 or so), as movie scores sometimes do, then that’s one thing. If, however, a composer is creating something that comes out of the context of right now, and speaks to right now, then it seems that the word “classical” could be a bit misleading and perhaps deterring to potential audiences.
Then there is the issue he brings up about creating a sense of real community and sharing through online social networks, as opposed to just marketing through them. Perhaps this could be helped by offering as well as asking/selling. For example: giving away a recording or two for free and not under a heading that begs people to please listen to it, but rather as a presentation of something valuable being given freely as a gift. Another idea would be to pose questions (through blogs, facebook posts, tweets, whatever works) about real issues in art music today, in which people could weigh in and interact. Then there is some interaction and when it is time to advertise a performance or an album release, or to put one’s self out there to potential performers, it’s not just showing up to advertise. Rather, it’s one part of being a community member.