Monday, March 15, 2010

Relevant Classics

Part of what I'm trying to do with the CE Classical Challenge is get people thinking about classical music, and how it's programmed on public radio stations.

Does it matter? Very much. According to a recent study, the public radio audience is aging up, and out. And it's happening the quickest in the classical format.

The oldest public radio format is classical music; the median age of its audience has aged seven years over the last 10 years — to age 65. That means half of the classical audience are not boomers but seniors.  There has been no growth in the size of the classical audience over the 10-year period studied, except as public radio has been able to purchase failing commercial classical stations.
So clearly classical programming isn't connecting with (relatively) younger audiences.

But does it mean classical music's dead?

No, because younger audiences have discovered classical music on their own. Music that speaks to them. Music that has points of connection with the other forms of music they listen to.

It's what I've been saying all along, but it's not just me. Flavorwire recently posted Indie Rock's 5 Favorite Classical Composers. It's well worth reading -- and listening to. The article provides examples of not only the composers, but also of the indie artists they influence (or resemble).

The list consists of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Claudio Monteverdi, Steve Rich, Arvo Part, and John Adams. Notice that four of the composers come from the late 20th Century -- and three of them are still alive, and still creating music.

Want to attract the next generation of classical listeners? Why not start with playing the composers people are already listening to?

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