Covers vs. Originals: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

IronMaiden-IronMaidens

In the previous post in this series I mentioned that I would be exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks. I brought up the phenomenon known as Survivorship Bias and how our models for success can be skewed by survivors while missing possibly more relevant data that can be learned from “failures,” which are far more numerous. In this post I’ll be discussing one of the perennial debates that local band musicians love to have, Covers vs. Originals, and how that fits into the wider debate of “Success” and modeling Rock/Pop band marketing, entrepreneurial, or gigging strategies.

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Survivorship Bias: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

Break-GOT

*EDITED for content, clarity, and minimization of polarizing langauge*

This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks.

Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.

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Vampire shows, Fragmentation & Oversupply, and the “Classical Music Crisis”

penny-dreadful-vampire

While watching the second episode of Penny Dreadful, I was struck by a thought* — I just don’t have time to watch all these geek themed television shows! Penny Dreadful is just the latest of shows which features vampires.  The recently cancelled Dracula series, The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off, The Originals, and Being Human are series which center on stories of vampires. Like Penny Dreadful, the Lost Girl, Supernatural, and even Da Vinci’s Demons are set in worlds where vampires exist**.

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Myth of the “General Audience,” Classical Music, and Token Activism

Large group of ethnicity

One of the most enduring myths, and one that complements and amplifies the Monolithic Pop Culture trope discussed in a previous post is the Myth of the General Audience. Like the Monolithic Pop Culture, the General Audience requires an assumption of homogeneity to a population that simply doesn’t exist.  By maintaining the homogeneity of the General Audience the Monolithic Pop Culture can be treated as a singular and undifferentiated mass while ignoring the actual differences between different audiences and the populations from where these audiences come.

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The Hazards of Drawing Conclusions about Median Ages from Orchestra Audience Surveys

Table of Median Ages of Audiences by Art Form in DiMaggio and Useem's "Cultural Democracy in a Period of Cultural Expansion: The Social Composition of Arts
Audiences in the United States" (1978).

A couple of years ago I came across Paul DiMaggio and Michael Useem’s “Cultural Democracy in a Period of Cultural Expansion: The Social Composition of Arts Audiences in the United States” (1978) which is a condensed version of their NEA Report (published with Paula Brown), “Audience studies of the performing arts and museums: a critical review” (1978). The pieces are studies of published and unpublished reports as well as surveys which had no formal write-up summarizing results of surveys.

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