The Oscars and Classical Music

The trend of the last 10 years with the Oscars will continue on Sunday night. It is the Indies who will be the big winners, not the big studios with big budgets. What does that mean for the classical music industry? Just look at the labels.

The Oscars are dominated by productions of independent studios. These are the studios with extremely small budgets often fighting for survival or just for getting a film out. Their budgets might be below US$ 1 Mio. The big studios still spend US$ 150 to US$ 200 per movie plus another US$ 100 for marketing. But they are not winning. Tom Shone analysis this phenomenon brilliantly in a recent article in the Financial Times.

But what does that mean for classical music? Do we see similar phenomena or does it not make sense to look at comparison at all?

When looking at the labels and the various international awards we see a similar phenomenon. Yes, many prices are still won by Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, and Warner. But looking at the ECHO Classic 2014 list you find labels such as myrios classics, perc.pro or ES-DUR and many others.

The big studios similar to the big labels, big festivals etc. bank on the super stars. It is not surprising that Anne Netrebko was named Singer of the Year. But isn’t it much more surprising that Frank Peter Zimmermann won Violine Player of the Year for his recording of Paul Hindemith’s violin sonatas and concerto?

The success of the Indies means that audiences shift. Yes, they still love their big stars. But, as Tom Shone points out, we are loosing the middle field. Audiences become interested in new approaches, different repertoire, new festivals, new forms of performances.

That is a great chance for classical music. It is up to us to take it.
Author: Bernhard Kerres
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