Just got back from a week’s vacation up in Northern California: fun in Yosemite, Napa, and Sonoma. I spent some quality time outdoors hiking and relaxing, not to mention tasting some very yummy wines (more on that in the near future). Much of the week was spent unplugged and away from the internet (partially by design, partly unplanned), but now I’m back to Southern California with some solid bandwidth and a full-sized keyboard, ready to blog again. I returned to find a couple of my fellow bloggers making some pokes and jabs at a pair of local classical music marketing campaigns:
- Brian at OutWestArts.com scoffs at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s latest posters and their image of Gustavo Dudamel emblazoned with the slogan “Passion Forward”
- Tim Mangan at ClassicalLife.net has some fun with Los Angeles Opera’s latest redesign of their website, especially their efforts to come up with snappy one-line slogans for their productions (e.g., “Eugene Onegin: from the composer of Swan Lake!“). Tim goes on to offer some of his own hilarious suggestions for some other operas. A must read. Two of my favorite gems: “The Turn of the Screw — Sounds like porn, and it kind of is!” and “Rigoletto — We have a hunch you’ll like this one!”
(Special props to Diane Rhodes Bergman, VP of Marketing and Communications for LA Opera, for joining in the fun in the comments and responding to some questions from other posters.)
For their part, the LA Phil has received a certain amount of flack by those accusing them of over-hyping Gustavo Dudamel. I blame the hero-hungry media for the eventual excessive hype, and I think the LA Phil marketing department has merely been doing their job. In fact, the orchestra has a long history of capitalizing on the star power of their music directors — exotic and dashing Zubin Mehta, Armani-clad and fedora wearing Carlo Maria Giulini, Hollywood-connected André Previn, and the legendary bicep-baring poster of Esa-Pekka Salonen that the Los Angeles Times lamented once it disappeared. Other cities are equally likely to celebritize their own conductors: during Michael Tilson Thomas’s first season in San Francisco, you couldn’t turn a street corner without seeing a poster with “MTT:SFS” hanging from a lamp post; Ricardo Muti’s visage has been prevalent in Chicago this past season.
Marketing — much like music — is one of those professions done in full view of everyone else, and advertising in particular is something about which everyone is bound to have an opinion. I sympathize with the marketers. It’s not easy to break through the clutter, raise awareness, and increase consideration for any product that’s trying to attract a new audience; classical music is particularly difficult given that the “product” (i.e. the music being presented) is at least 50 years old under the best of circumstances, with most popular works being 100+ years old. What can be said about Tchaikovsky or Gounod that is truly fresh and original? That doesn’t make it particularly commendable to call Roméo et Juliette “The World’s Most Famous Love Story” for the umpteen-millionth time, but it isn’t so horrible either.
So you think you can do it better yourself? Here’s your chance: LA Opera is looking for a new name for their blog, and they want help from people like you and me. I received this email from Shannita of LA Opera in the first issue of their new e-newsletter:
New Season, New Blog and a Contest!
Welcome to the first issue of LA Opera’s new e-Newsletter. In it, we’ll take you behind the scenes of LA Opera and keep your informed on the latest company news. We’ve also got a newly redesigned website and brand new blog where you’ll get a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes. The only thing our blog needs is a name. That’s where you come in… We need your help naming it because the title “LA Opera Blog and News” is admittedly, rather bland. (Which is something we, and the 2011|12 Season, are not!)
Submit your title ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Name That Blog” in the subject line for a chance to win 2 tickets to Eugene Onegin performance of your choice.* Submissions will be accepted until August 31st and a winner announced on September 6th. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*transportation not provided
I’ve submitted a few of my own ideas (“Raking the Stage” is my personal favorite) and we’ll see if they like any of them. Perhaps you can do better. Good luck to us all.