Brave New World

A guest post by Bernard Kerres, founder/CEO of HelloStage

 

The world has changed significantly over the last twenty years. The development of the internet and its almost virus-like spread into all corners of the world as well as our lives has an impact on society not yet fully understood. Who will need a musician in tomorrow’s world when you can chose between the holograms of Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould or Friedrich Gulda playing for you in your home “live” – or at any concert stage for that matter? Why waste time on music education when a robot can play flawlessly and adapt to the style of your preferred pianist?

 

We are not quite there yet. But we can be sure that the scenarios described above are technically entirely possible in the not-too-distant future. The only thing that will take longer is for a robot to develop its own interpretation. I doubt that it will ever be possible for robots develop emotions – at least not in the near or medium term future.

 

Nevertheless, the scenarios mean that the reproduction of music, including classical music, will enter completely new realms never even thought of. This is actually good news. This means that more music will be consumed and music will become an even bigger part of every day life. 

 

But what happens to live music? My view is that the more people who are listening to music anywhere the more will also listen to live music. There a lots of examples in human behaviour where individuals get more into a subject the more they are in contact with the subject matter.

 

Often classical music makes it very difficult for new audiences to attend. There is a whole unwritten code about behaviour in a concert – from how to dress to when to clap. This is a huge entry barrier for new music lovers. Many people have developed a taste for classical music, have listened to it on the radio or in recordings, but they still shy away from going to the opera or to a concert.

 

So technology gives us these amazing opportunities but we, the classical music community, build up barriers against really utilizing these opportunities.

 

Nevertheless, technology also allows us in the classical music community to communicate and collaborate with each other in completely new ways. The author and readers of this blog have developed a great interest in news and thoughts around the piano. We at HELLO STAGE are providing tools for those in the classical community to engage with each other.

 

From experience I know that people in the music world are generally very self-focused. They have to be. They have to really believe  in their music, in their concerts and in their performances. But if we all change just a tiny little bit, using some of the technology available to us, to write, speak, blog, tweet etc. about classical music in general, we could create an amazing network effect.

 

I personally have the great advantage of seeing one of the most amazing network effects at work. I have relocated to Silicon Valley in California at least for four months, if not longer. Within days of arriving, I saw an amazing network driven by the belief in technology and a passion for entrepreneurship. Everyone here speaks about the latest app they have seen, a cool start-up they came across, or an inspiring team. Only after several questions, they might actually also speak about their own start-up or investments. 

 

At HELLO STAGE we initiated the hashtag #classicalbuzz. The idea behind it is simple. As a first step each one of us shares one comment about a performance we have just heard or a recording which has inspired us with the hashtag #classicalbuzz. Second, we all share at least one post with #classicalbuzz. Can you imagine the fast spread of #classicalbuzz and therefore classical music in the world? It is an easy step that we all can easily join in with. It can be the beginning of a classical music revolution. 

 

Let us create a #classicalbuzz together, perhaps also a #pianobuzz driven by our love for classical music. I am looking forward to sharing your posts and tweets with these hashtags. I am greatly looking forward to reading more and more ideas about how people around the world lower the barriers of entry into our concert halls and opera houses and make them welcoming for so many new music lovers out there. Thanks for being part of that.

Bernhard Kerres is the founder and CEO of HELLO STAGE – an innovative independent online platform for the classical music community, connecting musicians, ensembles, managers, and promoters in the classical music world.

Bernhard started his career as an opera singer, before graduating with an MBA from London Business School. After five years in strategy consulting for Booz & Co. in the high technology, internet and telecom sectors, he subsequently became CEO, CFO, and COO of various technology companies in Europe. From 2007 to 2013, he was the CEO and Artistic Director of the Wiener Konzerthaus, one of the most active concert houses in the world, with over 800 events and over half a million visitors per season.

Read more about Bernard here

4 thoughts on “Brave New World”

  1. Hello Stage is a powerful tool indeed. But I believe there are more barriers between the artists and the audience, and these are the barriers to break. Thinking as a “classical music community” is what’s making it seem more elitist or closed on itself from the outside. Seeking audience engagement is the real challenge for which technology can be a key and a fantastic opportunity.

  2. To be quite honest, I love classical music, especially Bach, but it intimidates me. I guess it’s because not matter how hard I try to play it on the piano, I just can’t do it. I started playing guitar when I was very young and I can play classical guitar. Piano I started when I was an adult and being mostly self taught I find it easier to play by ear. It’s Ironic, I can sight read most guitar music, but piano is a different story. I’m assuming when you start playing piano at an early age you absorb it like a sponge and get all those technical exercises like Hannon etc. to become second nature.

  3. This is very interesting, touching as it does on two areas close to me. On the matter of robot artists, is it the performer or the sound waves travelling through the air at a certain pitch, volume, combination, rapidity etc. that touches the soul? I don’t know but its a scary area of thought. As to opennes in concert halls its the age thing that gets me. The young people who attend seem to be mostly students. So how to attract the young for entertainment/edification? Well perhaps that’s all about the truly appalling state of musical education in schools. Governments seem intent on churning out robots and not humans, so the first point is perhaps linked.

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