Classical Music

Sean Hickey: Whither, Classical Music? 

Sean Hickey: Whither, Classical Music?

The classical music “industry” is an intriguing one.  It is a complex of professionals from many different disciplines working together.  Of course, it’s the musicians who perform it and the instrument makers who manufacture and maintain the instruments those musicians perform it on.  But don’t overlook the publishers of the printed music “compositions” that make up the concert programs musicians offer, as well as the recorded music publishers whose sounds influence the performance decisions musicians make as they read the printed music notes placed on music stands in front of them.  The classical music industry is at once extremely conservative –  indeed, musicians are trained at conservatories – and daringly innovative – it was Octavio Petrucci’s reverence for yesterday’s hits that led him publish music notes printed from movable type.  So how is the classical music industry currently situated?  We hear a lot of concerns coming from professionals working inside it; about the “graying” of classical music audiences generally and, specifically, how mp3 files and music streaming have decimated recorded music profitability, on the one hand, and the Pandemic taking an unprecedented toll on live music profitability, on the other.  But we also hear about the unforeseen opportunities these “gales of creative destruction” – as the economist Joseph Schumpeter calls them – offer all those with an interest in classical music.  Waves of consolidation have created new industry models, like the one Pentatone, a classical music recording label, now operates as a part of.  Pentatone recently forged a unique partnership with two of the largest classical music management companies in the world, all three partners of which are owned by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  Sean Hickey, Managing Director of Pentatone, is at the center of the action and he’s coming on our show to discuss all of what’s happening today and what that means for the classical music of tomorrow.  Whither, then, are you speeding, O classical music?” 

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