Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Mediums: The Self-Promoting Musician Good or Bad?

In New Music Box, Isaac Schankler talks about the self-promoting musician.  He mentions Alina Simone's blog in The New York Times and her hours spent self-promoting rather than writing new music.  He brings up Composer 1.0 and Composer 2.0.  Composer 1.0 is the composer that locks himself in a room, spending hours and hours writing music.  Composer 2.0 is a social and collaborative person.  Schankler brings up the pros and cons of both, such as Composer 1.0 getting to really know his craft but expecting the world to come to him and realize his talent.  Composer 2.0 implies they know their talent because of their self-promotion, yet they do better for themselves.

I get a feeling that we do have this sort of judgment towards successful composers nowadays that are also popular with "non-classical" audiences, such as Eric Whitacre, Philip Glass, and Jennifer Higdon.  Granted, they are not writing atonal music, but does that mean they are not equally talented composers?  Their music are very accessible, but it does not make the music any less complex or challenging.  Many people tend to discredit their music for its "simplicity" or that they are "selling out," which I disagree.  They simply like to connect to their audiences at a different level.

Schankler wonders if there could be another medium, the promoter being somewhere between the musician/composer and the audience.  The fact is, there are existing people right now that are the mediums (Alex Ross being a prime example).  Perhaps we could encourage more people to become mediums, simply for the joy of spreading music or as a profession.  This certainly beats having a big company try to tell you what to do in order to sell albums and get your music out there.

Musicians and composers must increasingly become better at self-promoting, as well as develop social and networking skills whether they like it or not.  Entrepreneurship comes with those qualities in mind.  Perhaps Composer 1.0 and 2.0 are too extreme.  Striving for Composer 1.5 or Musician 1.5 would not be such a bad idea.

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