As artists, we tend to strive for a certain type of perfection. Just like the greatest of athletes, we aim for the best we can possibly be. It takes a toll on us mentally and physically, but so what? That rush when we achieve a performance of sublime excellence is fantastic and worth the hours spent in rehearsals and practice rooms. We do it because we care and love this art form we have chosen.
And yet, is that enough? Is it enough to reach the peak of personal excellence? Is it enough to have mastered the toughest of technical passages or trickiest of tunings?
There is a flip side to all of this. Somewhere along the line music-making (at least in the classical world) lost its sense of sharing. For all the excellence in and mastery of our craft that we achieve, it means nothing if we do not share it with others. Too often, musicians and artists focus on the path, the journey, as opposed to any kind of destination. The rehearsal process becomes more enjoyable than the performance.
Why is this? Well, there’s a great deal of joy that comes from music-making with other peers in the comfort of a rehearsal. Things become heated, ideas are exchanged, and you see results by the end of your time together. The performance? Well, that tends to just be a bonus, and advertising it becomes an afterthought.
I would argue that we miss the opportunity to share this joy with one crucial group: the audience.
We need to start to take ownership of our livelihood in order to sustain it in the future. This can start with that oft-used but sometimes misunderstood phrase, “making our craft more accessible.”
Making something more accessible does not mean wearing jeans on stage. It means sharing with audiences what we do on a level that does not demean the craft or the people. It means striving for excellence onstage and having enough respect for the audience to take them along for the journey. Sometimes this requires educational outreach for students and adults alike.
As a classical performer who began to dabble in the marketing side of things a few years ago, I’ve had the fortune of working with some incredibly talented young groups. With no budget and working from basically nothing, they have relied on their ingenuity and good nature to form personal connections with audiences.
Being in marketing for classical music to me is having the privilege of sharing the talent and beauty of music with as many people as possible. Not everyone will necessarily like what you have to offer, but in our current state we often do not even give people the chance to decide. We cut off the flower just as it is about to bloom.
Art is about finding beauty in our everyday lives, about helping us find deeper truths in all that we do. I am in marketing because this pursuit should be shared with everyone.