When making recordings on classical music labels I always found it amazing how the process was done. It’s very similar to photos and movies. Recordings are excessively edited. By excessive I mean over 400 takes, using 6 mics, on a piece under 10 minutes. Yeah…
At that point a recording is unreal. Every musician can hear their mistakes and knows their weaknesses. To hear a recording where you can flawlessly execute a storm of octaves or insane jumps feels like cheating. Why practice?
The past Vice President of EMI (once a leader of classical recordings) told me they had no idea that Naxos (the current leader in classical recordings) would take over. Naxos was laughed at by Sony and EMI coming in as a label, but the disruptive label knew that streaming would take over and that music would one of the first media streams to be liquified. They believed that people only desired access to the music instead of owning it. This eventually caused the fall of all the major classical music recording labels.
So now that classical music recordings are digital, nearly free, and note perfect, what matters?
If you have an Apple Music or Spotify subscription today you have access to more Mozart Symphonies than the patrons who paid him.
If this is the case, then what is valuable?
Is it live performance?
The embodiment seems like it should matter, but that costs the audience time, attention and money. Is it worth paying for it? Are classical music concerts selling out?
Okay, so is the value in interpretation?
Interpretation is dead. It used to be this way, but being a concert musician today is a very different game from what it once was. Touring for 5 years, my challenges were: learning music as efficiently as possible, maintaining relationships with venues and directors, and then performing 4 times a week for 25 weeks straight. Burnout is very common.
The pianists who can learn music fast enough, maintain a 100 concerts a year and don’t get turned off by the high expectations and the audience’s distaste for experimentation are 1 in a billion – literally.
I believe the real value is the interaction of people who are passionate about the music and helping them and their family to create the music.
The future of this industry is in education. Music education has the ideal balance of personalization and popularity. Education is growing ever more personalized. All other subjects can learn from music education for their mastery of student personalization. More on this soon.