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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

contemporary conundrum

It’s been my observation that the number of people who regularly attend contemporary art museums far out number the number of people who frequent contemporary music concert events.

Why are contemporary art museums so successful at what they do while concerts of new music are often sparsely attended?

Perhaps new music presenters should embrace more of the standardly-used museum management tactics, such as: trendy cafes, gift shops with loaded-to-the-brim with merchandise, incentivized membership plans, social events, educational tours, forums and lectures, multimedia, corporate sponsorship, and high-profile special exhibits that famously travel around the world from one iconic museum to another.

While a few of these amenities and methodologies are tentatively finding their way into our still-antiquated concert culture, the global business of promoting commercial contemporary art clearly has a hands-down marketing advantage over the culture of new music creation, distribution, and presentation.

Perhaps this apparent discrepancy in public awareness between the two arts is rooted in the nature of the product.  Artwork has monetary value in that it can be purchased, owned, and potentially sold at profit.  Music is inherently abstract and merely a collection of transient sound waves in the air.  By its nature, it dissipates into nothing in a matter of seconds after performance.  

In recent times it has become virtually impossible to monetize something as intangible as that. Music’s intrinsic cultural value is relative, uncontainable, fluid, easily manipulated, and fundamentally non-materialistic.