Fresh off a flight from Los Angeles, the irrepressible Deborah Borda told classical music today that it had a future.

It was not entirely the one the International Artists Managers Association wanted to hear, but then she’s got the Dude and they haven’t. So she speaks and they listen.
And what she says is that there is a new landscape out there for classical concerts and a hundred new ways to reach it. But you don’t need my summary.
Here is her speech.

 

21st
IAMA International Conference, London April 2011

 

April
13, MEDIA DAY: Artists and Media in a Changing Landscape: Keynote speech from

Deborah Borda, President and Chief Executive Office, LA
Phil:

 

 

 

MANY VOICES TO MANY EARS

 

Good morning. It is a pleasure to join you today. My
assignment this morning is to start us thinking about “artists and media in a
changing landscape”. I just flew in from California so it might be appropriate
to start with an overview from say 30,000 feet up to survey a constantly
shifting global phenomenon. Later on it might be stimulating to take a look at
some specific strategies we have used at the Los Angeles Philharmonic to gain
traction in this rapidly changing environment. After all, I come from a country
where my President, Barack Obama, tweets. And I can’t help noticing that Queen
Elizabeth now has a Facebook page.

 

No matter what segment of our industry you come from, I
hope that from the grand heights of policy to the very concrete there will be
something of use for you today — even if only to admit to a common emotion. May
we agree this is a rather scary time? Auden and Bernstein had their AGE OF
ANXIETY and now we have one of our very own. Remember “normal”? My supposition
is that that is a place to which we will never return. So we can either be
anxious or we can begin to think in adaptive, creative, and flexible ways.

 

We are in the midst of a far-reaching technological
revolution — one that is by turns either strangely underestimated or overblown.
The fallout from that change is redefining society — and the music profession,
which is having to redefine itself, is a microcosm of the larger world. The
problem is that we aren’t quite sure how best to adapt to this new world, and
to inhabit it vibrantly.

 

I realize that this is a music industry conference, so
please bear with me as I make a little detour into world politics. Only weeks
ago, we witnessed a stunning and swift populist revolution in Egypt. In a
highly repressive atmosphere, it was organized and implemented through social
media. In the “old days,” you fomented a revolution by sending in your troops
to take over a radio or TV station, rendering one voice to many ears. With the
advent of social media, this is no longer necessary. It is now many voices to
many ears. The internet connects hundreds of millions of people, and there is
no single controlling organization. As the author and social commentator
Malcolm Gladwell recently observed, “…hierarchies are sent askew and monopolies
are broken.”

 

Here’s a stunning fact: 1 in 13 people in the entire world
are now on Facebook, according to the source Online Schools. The individual can
broadcast to many, becoming the distributor and the broadcaster, via social
media and YouTube. This, along with changing distribution technologies, means
we are in a media landscape that offers the consumer almost limitless options
for information and content. It’s up to all of us to try to figure out how to
use new media successfully. Adaptability, as Darwin realized, is the key. We
must understand the importance of adapting to the changing landscape, and do it
with the greatest possible flexibility, because everything may change again by
the end of this year, or even the end of this speech.

 

Consumers no longer obtain information from a single
source, and they formulate their opinions via a tapestry of sources. Little
more than a decade ago, three major television networks ruled the airwaves in
the United States. Americans formed their worldview through them. Now even a
modest cable package offers 400 stations. A nation of viewers which defined
itself and the world by watching three channels is now flooded with
alternatives. Newspaper executives are frantically trying to capture audience
and dollars in an age when it is easier and often free to go online. The number
of paper books I have purchased in the past two years has diminished by 90%
because I have my trusty Kindle. And I am a hard-core reader who loves the feel
and look of an old-fashioned print book. Our descendants will laugh their
holographic heads off when they hear about us having driven back and forth to
video stores.

 

The rate of change in the world and our industry is
dizzying. Access to more information, more easily, is surely positive — but
there is a flip side: with it comes more “noise,” more competition for the
attention of our music lover, the consumer, our patron. Today’s consumer is
always connected, with many windows open on several devices. Our challenge is
to use new media to attract and hold these consumers, to “friend” them. The
trouble is many of the people who need to exploit new technology too often
stand in its way. Given the impact of Napster at the end of the 20th
century, why did we not all immediately understand the change in consumer
buying patterns and the importance of iTunes when it arrived in 2003? We missed
the boat, and we can’t do that again.

 

 

This leads me back to our art, our passion — the world of
music. There has truly been a “paradigm shift” in the landscape, both
technologically and in changing audience expectations. Let’s quick-scan a list
of a real-time progression of change.

 

The ’90s saw a boom in product demand as the world
transferred their musical archive to CDs. We have now made another Olympian
leap — to digital distribution. Immediate access and availability of product is
now both a reality and an expectation. Audiences can download a full album
within seconds of release, or sign on to YouTube to see video captured by fans
at a concert, or a TV show they may have missed. The fact that more than 2
billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube is a testament to current audience
appetite for content, and especially audio-visual content, which at one time
was much more expensive for the average individual to produce.

 

With access to so much content, a lot of it free, audiences
on average are less apt to pay as much as they once did for recordings. Sales
for a successful album have been readjusted in the last decade. When I was
Managing Director of the New York Philharmonic in the early ’90s, we counted on
close to one million dollars a year in recording royalties flowing to our
coffers. While I can’t reveal another orchestra’s secrets, the amount today is
a fraction of that and this holds true across the board for American
orchestras.

 

The same rise in social media which led to political
dethroning, has meant that our audience can provide us with immediate feedback.
Not long ago, we expected to get a few letters a couple of days after a
controversial program. Now, within minutes it’s on our Facebook page. This is a
mighty tool and our single most direct connection to our audience. The real
time interchange with audiences is so valuable that high-level marketing
professionals speculate that social media, properly used, may supplant current
audience research methods.

 

Audience expectation is a two-headed monster which demands
care and feeding — but a monster properly harnessed can be a very good friend.
Audiences now demand instant gratification. They want access to artists, top
notch artistic product; they have higher expectations and want it cheaper, free,
and with fewer barriers to gaining access. “Why can’t I get exactly the seat I
see on this chart for the concert?” or “Why can’t I have a freshly burned CD of
this concert as I walk out the door?” However, what sounds like doom and gloom
in terms of growing expectations is, in fact, positive, because never before
have we been able to get closer to our audience. So, let’s see how we can do
it.

 

I speak to you today through a rather specific lens — my
role as the executive leader of an American orchestra which in the past decade
has become the single largest symphonic institution in the US and second only
to the Metropolitan Opera in budget size. We have tried to re-imagine and
redesign ourselves as a broad-spectrum producer of music, media, and
educational initiatives. We guide our decision-making by our commitment to two
deeply held values — innovation and excellence. That may sound a bit
simplistic, but we have found that rigorous dedication to these principles has
resulted in vibrant and varied artistic production as well as fiscal stability.
That said, we have found the changing landscape of media very challenging to
navigate.

 

Might new media and the internet allow us to establish a
globalized brand, an opportunity to spread our mission and differentiate
ourselves in a crowded landscape? An opportunity to become a trusted partner,
curator, in providing the very best in musical content and experiences for our
consumers? We think so. Here are some concrete ways (which in real time may no
longer sound particularly innovative to you) in which the LA Phil has embraced
the changing media landscape.

 

When we began distributing concerts on iTunes in 2005, it
was a radical departure from commitment to physical product. As one of the
first orchestras to welcome digital distribution, we had to make fundamental
changes in approach and concept. First, a new financial arrangement with
orchestra members was necessary, one that treated new media differently from
traditional media. Basically, this meant not paying the musicians upfront but
using a profit-sharing model. Next, a much quicker turnaround of recordings for
release was critical. For us, the numbers might not have been as strong but we
decided that the promotional impact would be of high value because it was
crucial to our brand that we be “in the space”. It was and is particularly
important that the releases be representative of the organization’s and music
director’s artistic vision, including our commitment to new music, to better
define our brand.

 

One very successful way we have deepened the relationship
with our audience is with mobile apps — three in particular. With BRAVO GUSTAVO
— an engaging game with the phone as a baton — you can conduct excerpts from a
Mahler Symphony with Gustavo. Our LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl apps let you get
anything from tickets, program, and artists information, to a map of our
orchestra layout and individual musician photos, as well as a wealth of other
information. These apps are free, and enhance the patron experience. All three
have had more than 100,000 downloads.

 

The key benefit of this tool is that it opens up a two-way
conversation with consumers and increases our presence in the lives of our
audience so that we can stay relevant and “top of mind”. It is one of many
channels through which we communicate to our audience. The LA Phil’s Facebook
pages have a combined following of approximately 45,000 followers. We are also able
to speak to our digital family via Twitter, about virtually anything,
distribute exclusive content, and run promotions.

 

As we planned the introduction of our new Music Director
Gustavo Dudamel we wanted to send a strong message to a broad audience. This
message had to do with community, education, and music for all, and it was
critical that we leverage new media to deliver it. Dudamel’s first concert as
our Music Director was called “Bienvenido Gustavo,” a free 8-hour extravaganza
at the Hollywood Bowl that featured jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, star
rock artists like Flea, and YOLA, our El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra, led
by Gustavo. The evening culminated in a performance of the Beethoven 9 with the
LA Phil and a mega community chorus. We streamed all 8 hours. Every artist on
the stage accepted no media compensation — a major change from the past. We
employed media to send a strong message — not for monetary gain. In turn, this
allowed us, and everyone involved in the day, a unique opportunity to connect
in LA and around the world with 40,000 viewers tuning in.

 

When the Metropolitan Opera launched their live HD
transmissions, many considered it a publicity stunt, a one-year wonder.
Surprise! It’s a hit. Soon after, the Berlin Philharmonic began HD transmissions
which are available online in the orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall. At the LA
Phil, we saw a unique opportunity to further establish our brand by utilizing
the singular assets of Gustavo Dudamel, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and our
orchestra. Here was a platform to bring music to more people in a live (key
word) and engaging way. These broadcasts let audiences see Gustavo and the
orchestra in new ways — literally being in Gustavo’s
dressing room just before the concert, in live interviews backstage, in
rehearsal clips and insightful pre-taped interviews — all of which allows each
viewer to be a fly on the wall as everyone prepares for the concert (and
recovers after). We are now playing in more than 500 theaters in the US and
Canada and our audience share has grown after just two concerts. This is an
investment in brand building and also keeps the band right on their
mettle.

 

Now a few summary thoughts as we kick off these meetings.
We are staring head on at a singular opportunity. Yes, it is about audience
access, changing expectations, and the allocation of resources to keep up. What
will be required to stay on top of the multi-channel 21st-century conversation
we may now hold with our audiences?

 

More importantly, it is about agility and action to stay
relevant. We require a long-term view, which is not so different from the past,
but access, tools, and revenue streams have surely changed. Finally, let’s return
to that 30,000-foot view where we began this morning to acknowledge something
else. Creating impact in this new media landscape is about alignment of
institutional values. It is dangerous to adapt values to a new technology or
system of delivery; this is how organizations or individual artists could lose
sight of their mission, identity, and central purpose. It is about the concept
that we are building brands, not only producing recordings as an end unto
themselves. In the end, innovation and excellence must be our guides.

 

In closing, I would simply like to observe that since I
began this talk, 34 million videos have been watched on You Tube. It is a time
of many voices to many ears. Thank you very much.

 

Gustavo Dudamel is a daddy.

His wife Eloise gave birth to a boy Friday night.
It made the Los Angeles TV news.
Now that’s celebrity….

The birth was announced to the media by Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
It’s a boy, named Martin, 6 pounds 13 ounces.
Dude cut the Ernest Fleischmann memorial concert Tuesday night to await the birth. He’ll be back in action in a month.
Congratulations to both parents. Welcome to the real world.
Farewell gilded youth.

A second of the foreign ‘experts’ called in to re-audition members of the Brazil Symphony Orchestra for their jobs has withdrawn from the process. The judge, who has not been named, was persuaded to step down by James Wilt, associate principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, who has been rallying support for the embattled musicians.

Here is Mr Wilt’s announcement on the trumpetherald message board:
One of the “consultants” has decided not to participate. This was done at considerable cost to this person, as they had to give up a week’s worth of salary to make the trip, and obviously will not be compensated for the time they would have spent in Brazil. It says a great deal to me about this person’s integrity. 

Still working on the other one I contacted. 

Good luck!
_________________
Jim Wilt 
LA Philharmonic 
Colburn School


Samba school particpant from Beija Flor

Yesterday, the violinist Isabelle Faust informed me that she was not taking part, despite having her name posted as one of the judges in the official Government diario. Stand by for further developments.

Facebook’s blackout protest appears to be winning this fight. Meanwhile, carnival continues.

Costumes from the Samba School Imperio Serrano

Participant of the parade from Beija Flor

photos: http://www.rio-carnival.net/

Behind the scenes of Simon Rattle’s Berlin performance the Royal Festival Hall last night, I heard word of challenging developments. A colleague, just back from Caracas, was on a high from attending Gustavo Dudamel’s first performance of the work with the Simon Bolivar youth orchestra.

This was a first run-out ahead of the joint Mahler Project he is planning next year with his hometown band and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It may not come out sounding as polished as the Berlin Philharmonic, but it has got my juices flowing for the future of Mahler interpretation once the centennial year is over.
Gustavo Dudamelhttp://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/02/rattles_mahler_third_-_or_mahl.html

Then, in the mail, came the last concert in the life of Dmitri Mitropoulos, the gay Greek giant who was hounded out of the New York Philharmonic and who died at La Scala in November 1960 while rehearsing this selfsame symphony. Before travelling to Milan, he performed it with the radio orchestra in Cologne. that concert has been retrieved from the archives and released on the Analekta label.

The opening is as different from Rattle’s as night from day – ominous, juddering, weighted with multiple connotations. Aside from the conductor’s structural certainty, a sense of foreboding is ineluctable – tragic and true. This is another Mahler record you should not miss.

Yes, you read it right. A real-life classical conductor is going on prime US network television at the start of the New Year. He might even get to talk about music (perhaps not at symphonic length). When, since Leonard Bernstein in 1943, has any young conductor received such national exposure?

It’s a huge step-up for Gustavo Dudamel to the next celebrity rung. I reckon he can handle it.
Here’s the press release, hot off the email:

 

LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC MUSIC DIRECTOR

GUSTAVO DUDAMEL TO APPEAR ON NBC’S

“THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2011, AT 11:35 PM

 

 

WHAT:              LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel guests on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Tuesday, January 4, 2011, at 11:35 p.m. In his first appearance on the national late-night program, Dudamel discusses, among other topics, LA Phil LIVE, which sends full-concert performances of him leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall to more than 450 movie theaters across the U.S. and Canada.

 

Dudamel is currently in the middle of his second season leading the LA Phil. The LA Phil’s 2010/11 season presents a vast spectrum of imaginative concerts – welcoming back old friends, while continuing the tradition of introducing rising artists and composers – a European tour and expansion of YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), Dudamel’s signature music education program.

 

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is from Big Dog Productions in association with Universal Media Studios.  Debbie Vickers is the executive producer.

 

For artwork from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” please visit the NBC press website at www.nbcumv.com or contact julie.true@nbcuni.com.  For embed codes from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” please visit http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/.

 

Please visit www.LAPhil.com for complete programming information.

Gustavo Dudamel has told the Los Angeles Times that he and his wife, Eloísa Maturén, are expecting a baby next spring. ‘I will be Papa!’ he cried. The paper then obtained confirmation from Deborah Borda, president of the LA Philharmonic – just in case he’d got it wrong.

Here’s the link and here’s the happy couple (Dude and Mrs, not Dude and Debs).

Photo credit: Susana Gonzales / Los Angeles Times

 

Dudamel

 

 

Gustavo Dudamel has told the Los Angeles Times that he and his wife, Eloísa Maturén, are expecting a baby next spring. ‘I will be Papa!’ he cried. The paper then obtained confirmation from Deborah Borda, president of the LA Philharmonic – just in case he’d got it wrong.

Here’s the link and here’s the happy couple (Dude and Mrs, not Dude and Debs).

Photo credit: Susana Gonzales / Los Angeles Times

 

Dudamel

 

 

One of the worst-kept secrets in the conducting world is out this morning with a press release confirming that Gustavo Dudamel has dumped his mentors.

Here’s the full story. Late last year, Dudamel’s agent Mark Newbanks became unsettled with his lack of personal advancement at Holt Askonas, an old-fashioned British agency, and arranged to join his former colleague Stephen Wright, who had bought out Van Walsum Management.

The pin-stripes at Holt Askonas went into damage-limitation, imposing vows of silence on all and sundry and wheeling out Dudamel’s closest advisers – led by Sir Simon Rattle – to persuade the young whizzkid to stay with the stable that launched him. The Dude, music director at the Los Angeles Phil and in demand the world over, is worth some $300,000 to his management over the next 3-4 contract years, say insiders. That’s big money in classical music, and big worries for Askonas Holt.

Rattle did his best at bending the Dude’s ear, and so did other Holt trusties, badgering the young conductor to stay put. But the Dude is a man of personal loyalties and Mark Newbanks is both close to his own age and a good buddy. This morning, Askonas Holt admitted defeat and announced ‘a significant change at the company’ with the loss of its fastes rising star.

Dudamel moves to Van Walsum from today and the Rattle shop is left licking its wounds. Askonas Holt publishes a list of ‘lengenday figures’ and ‘fantastic … young conductors’ whom it maintains under contract. But the Dude’s move is seismic, signifiying a shift in power in classical management.

Wright, who started out himself at Askonas Holt, has scores to settle with former allies and an expansion plans in mind. His new business partner is Costa Pilavachi, former head of Decca and EMI Classics. The wind of change is picking up.

 

One of the worst-kept secrets in the conducting world is out this morning with a press release confirming that Gustavo Dudamel has dumped his mentors.

Here’s the full story. Late last year, Dudamel’s agent Mark Newbanks became unsettled with his lack of personal advancement at Askonas Holt, an old-fashioned British agency, and arranged to join his former colleague Stephen Wright, who had bought out Van Walsum Management.

The pin-stripes at Holt went into damage-limitation, imposing vows of silence on all and sundry and wheeling out Dudamel’s closest advisers – led by Sir Simon Rattle – to persuade the young whizzkid to stay with the stable that launched him. The Dude, music director at the Los Angeles Phil and in demand the world over, is worth some $300,000 to his management over the next 3-4 contract years, say insiders. That’s big money in classical music, and big worries for Askonas Holt.

Rattle did his best at bending the Dude’s ear, and so did other Holt trusties, badgering the young conductor to stay put. But the Dude is a man of personal loyalties and Mark Newbanks is both close to his own age and a good buddy. This morning, Askonas Holt admitted defeat and announced ‘a significant change at the company’ with the loss of its fastes rising star.

Dudamel moves to Van Walsum from today and the Rattle shop is left licking its wounds. Askonas Holt publishes in its press release a list of ‘legendary figures’ and ‘fantastic … young conductors’ whom it maintains under contract. But the Dude’s move is seismic, signifiying a generational shift in power in classical management.

Wright, who started out himself at Askonas Holt, has scores to settle with former allies and an expansion plans in mind. His new business partner is Costa Pilavachi, former head of Decca and EMI Classics. The wind of change is picking up. 

 

Amid the hoopla and hullabaloo of Gustavo Dudamel’s arrival in Los Angeles, few seem to have noticed that he has quietly renewed as music director in Gothenburg, Swden, for the next three years.

The Swedes can never be faulted for discretion. Over the last four years they have enabled the Venezuelan wonderstick to learn his repertoire out of the world’s limelight, working with a band that expects a conductor to push out the envelope every time he steps on the rostrum.

Gothenburg, I have written elsewhere, is top dog among Scandinavian orchestras, a league apart from the Stockholm Phil, where Alan Gilbert toiled for eight dull years. It was led for quarter of a century by Neeme Jarvi and the Dude took over after a nervous interregnum with the Swiss conductor, Mario Venzago.

If Dudamel has hit top spot on i-Tunes with Mahler One this month, that triumph is founded on the grey winter hours he put in among the impassive Swedes. ‘I love the musicians of this orchestra and the work we do together,’ said Dudamel, on signing the contract, ‘you cannot imagine my enthusiasm for continuing to build on what we have achieved.’

Credit for his Gothenburg grounding belongs to Ed Smith, Simon Rattle’s former sidekick in Birmingham. Smith is leaving Gothenburg in the New Year but he will continue to advise the orchestra and its whizz-man in his ever-immaculate way.