The Internet: Patron of the Arts
Western classical music has historically depended on patronage for artistic creation. The Church, kings and queens, presidents, the wealthy, and even educational institutions have previously played an important role as patron to the arts.
With the current crashing economy, in the United States at least, where supporting the arts is supplanted by everything from subsidizing agribusiness, lining the pockets of wealthy corporate executives, and supporting greedy and shortsighted elected officials, musicians have had to depend on public institutions like the university or even secondary education to receive any sort of funding and support. However, with schools and universities dooming arts education to oblivion by cutting budgets by enormous percentages, where can the professional musician turn? Who will fund the arts in the 21st century?
The answer is not a who, but a what: the Internet.
The Internet provides professional musicians with literally thousands of unique opportunities for performance, teaching, writing, and publishing that no longer exist through traditional music industry practices. All a professional musician needs is a fast internet connection, a convincing multimedia website, and time to network.
Do you want to reach thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of eager classical music fans with your new solo album? Don’t waste your money on an agent and a record company unless you are “pop” enough to be “popular” to the masses. Instead, you can record and publish your album, sell it through dozens of reputable music distribution sites, market through social networking sites, and even set up live gigs with online contacts. What is even more phenomenal is that you can accomplish all of this for about $100.
In the last year alone, networking through the internet has given me the opportunity to design a music course for an online university, write hundreds of articles for various websites, compose a music theory album, and teach a virtual music history course. Next up is a film score for an independent film, another hundred articles, and possibly three more albums. Oh, and I also design clothing and am working on a bilingual music education website.
p.s. I am a full time mom who only has time to work in her “spare” time.
Why do I think this is important? Because too many classical musicians have convinced themselves that if they cannot perform in a professional orchestra, get a record deal, become a tenure-track professor, or become a highly-paid music director that they need to throw in the towel. What’s worse is that many of these classical musicians convince their students that the arts are dying, when the opposite is true. The arts are thriving, yes, thriving despite economic disaster.
So I encourage you to create a snazzy free website, to start a music blog, to post a video of your last concert on U2B, to self-publish a book or two, connect with musicians halfway across the globe, twitter away, and take advantage of our new patroness’s generosity.
Sabrina Peña Young is an Intermedia Composer teaching at Murray State University and an experienced blogger. Her specialties are composition, technology, world music, percussion, and film & video.