The role of branding in Classical music – by Carly Lee, MSc Brand Leadership

‘Play it so that flies drop dead in mid-air, and the audience start leaving the hall from sheer boredom.’ – Shostakovich 1975

We need branding to keep classical music alive.

How we consume, feel and think about arts is changing.

Arts – filled with spirit, soul and freedom – is not looked upon comfortably when mixed with the concept of branding – commercialization and business. However as art organisations remain in a state of tradition, the declining numbers of memberships, ticket numbers and funding for the classical arts has only narrowed the opportunities for younger generations and rests on money coming out of the pockets of an aging audience. Whilst this is happening, more and more music from different genres are sweeping the mass market that are at the same time becoming better and better in creating the best journey physically and digitally.

Does this mean we say goodbye to classical music forever? Will the traditional classical arts need to update what it delivers? How can we keep its authentic magic?

  1. Why branding matters.

Branding should give a voice to the journey and stories of composers and the storytellers into a language everyone understands, both digitally and physically, at every touch point of the journey.

It’s about purpose and telling the world what you’re really about in the most effective and authentic way.

Classical music should embrace brands as a ‘moulder’ that transcends across the organisation as a whole, rather than just the marketing layer of promotions and advertisements, which soon becomes exhausted energy in the grand scheme of things. Having a positive ripple effect across all players of the organisation is what we want, working hand-in-hand with strategy within the music industry to keep it alive and vibrant – and what’s important here is letting go of the thought of commercialisation, and into one of opportunity.

  1. Redefining experience

Branding should build new connections by bringing the classical to environments where people celebrate and observe.

Familiar environments such as trendy UK music festivals, historical celebrations at local communities or even sandy beaches can be a performance platform for experience. By presenting itself at locations that are accessible and relatable, classical music can start to exist in the minds of consumers.

Or – renewing connections by utilising the existing magic there already is – where classical music is originally performed. The associations with historical buildings, architecture and sacredness of religious locations gives the experience a whole new dimension and can be something where young people see as a new, got-to-do thing once, if not, many times in their lifetime.

© papa
© papa
  1. A new electric identity

Branding should create and build strong personal brands.

Vanessa Mae known for first mixing classical with electronic music on her violin redefined classical music. More recent icons such as Lindsey Sterling – an electric violinist with over 114,000,000 on one of her Youtube videos, or 2CELLO brothers creating rock through acoustic cellos with millions of fans – has now made classical music…cool.

But why not form an orchestra dedicated to classical music using only electronic instruments? Or engage more in creating music with the public rather than always following the script of Mozart?

Of course, there will always be a place for traditional classical music – it’s a foundation of heritage, evolution and skill – but reinventing classical music and really making people aware of it – can really make it buzzing and exciting.


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