Several weeks ago, I worked with ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Principal Bassoonist William Short on the publication of an article on the MET Orchestra Musicians’ Web site. The article, entitled “2014: A Great Year for Orchestras (or haven’t you heard?)”, can be found online at http://www.metorchestramusicians.org/blog/2014/12/26/2014-a-great-year-for-orchestras-or-havent-you-heard.
Within hours of publication, viewership and readership of this article exploded from the promotion by the classical music community worldwide on social media. To date, over 60,000 people have seen this article. Over time, because it is online, thousands more will read it for years to come. If we had paid for advertising to disseminate this message, the cost to ICSOM would have approached $10,000.
Until now, battles for public opinion have been overwhelmingly one-sided because musicians simply don’t have the deep pockets or media contacts of those who have sought to decimate our profession. Suddenly, with the advent of social media, we have been presented with the single greatest equalizing tool in the history of our industry—a tool with which, through the sheer force of conviction and truth, we can reach tens of thousands of interested parties without spending a dime.
Once we observed the exposure of these messages and reflected on what three people working together could produce, I proposed the following idea to Bruce Ridge and Billy Short: What if we mobilize 30—then 300—classical musicians to produce this kind of content regularly? Then it will not matter what the mainstream media reports or does NOT report about the industry. We would own and control the message, which would keep the naysayers on the defensive against our messaging and incapable of advancing their own.
We envision a team of volunteers that would regularly develop and publish content to spread the messages to educate people about issues that affect classical musicians and orchestras. By working cooperatively, we could disseminate these messages on all of our social media channels, on blogs, and to the mainstream media. Participants could produce copy, video, and audio to deliver our messages. All the work would be done on a volunteer basis by ICSOM orchestra musicians and their supporters. Our ICSOM content provider team could produce content for orchestra musicians’ social media channels. We could also create guest posts on blogs. In addition, the team could produce background information and white papers to educate mainstream media journalists on a myriad of issues that affect all orchestra musicians.
ICSOM orchestras are composed of a collection of uniquely talented and skilled people, and musicians have proven time and time again to be the best advocates of their profession. The positive message that ICSOM has been articulating is being heard, and now we have an opportunity to share our viewpoint of the future of our orchestras with the public, and the press. We need more voices articulating the value of music to our society. We all seek ways that we can make a difference, and here is an opportunity for every member of ICSOM to join together in a unified chorus to proclaim, and realize, what is possible for our orchestras to achieve.