Best and worst music PRs

Best and worst music PRs


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2020

It’s been a while since we last assessed the press departments of opera houses, festivals, concert halls and music institutions. The first list was 2014, the second 2017, so we are definitely due one for 2020.

What’s changed in 3 years?

Total turnabout at the NY Phil with proactive new team.

Toronto’s woke.

Scandinavia slumbers.

The Dutch … still Dutch.

Bayreuth…. still worst.

Since all of these institutions are sustained by state funding and private donations, there is a legitimate public concern in encouraging them to improve their public communications. Where should we begin?

Here’s the 2020 list of the world’s worst music PR departments:

1 Bayreuth

The PR chief died, poor chap. He was just doing his job, saying nothing at all to anyone.

2 The Met

The PR chief quit. No change. The Met still only ever talks to the NY Times and selected other eunuchs.

3 Carnegie Hall

They’ve just noticed that the world biggest classical news site is not on their press list.

4 Concertgebouw (concert hall and orchestra)

They actually believe their own press releases.

5 Verbier Festival

No information is good information. Their view, and ours.

6 Sony Classical

No release is good release. The best review copy is the one that doesn’t get sent.

7 Luxembourg Philharmonic

Most expensive brochures, least informative content.

8 Paris Opéra, Philharmonie, Paris orchestras

Collectively en grève all year round

9 London’s South Bank Centre

Classical music? Do we still do that?

10 Every Italian opera house (except La Scala)

L’ufficio è senza pilota. Per favore lascia un messaggio

Just missed the cut: Covent Garden, Halle Orchestra, Semper Oper Dresden.

We won’t even mention English National Opera, which now restricts critics to one ticket, while allocating two to their editors.

Tomorrow: the world’s best PR departments


  • What’s wrong with Semperoper?

  • Nicola says:

    I suppose you never wrote to an Italian opera house, since the sentence “l’ufficio è senza pilota” has no meaning at all in Italian. But digging up dirt is easier.

  • Eric says:

    Unintended, I know, but the headline suggests it is going to be an article about the Performing Rights Society.

  • martin says:

    well, ever thought it’s you and what kind of “journalism” you produce? It’s just a hint, but….

  • Mike says:

    Sony Classical had some amazing releases last year: Volodos, Levit, Debargue etc etc
    Strange you name this label and no other – while for instance DG PR is only about keeping a brand alive by signing pop artists like Agnes Obel.