How do talented musicians reach new audiences? This is a question we ask every day at Yarlung. As the music “industry” continues to “evolve,” we must reevaluate how we increase visibility for new music and our musicians on a regular basis. (I use “industry” and “evolve” euphemistically, as you may have guessed.) The music industry of recorded music, especially in its more sophisticated forms of classical music and jazz, has largely ceased to be a “business” like it was in the heyday between say 1940 and 1990. “Evolve” is a euphemism for “disintegrate.” People no longer spend money on recordings the way we did in prior decades. We acknowledge this, and find other ways to help our musicians reach new audiences.
Five years ago, “Social Media” seemed to be the key. Large print ads no longer sold albums in significant numbers, but interactive media did hold the promise of engagement with likely fans around the world. It worked for a while, and still works to some extent, particularly for a musician’s or a music project’s visibility, even if not for outright sales.
So what do creative musicians to today to spread the word about a great recording project? They think outside the box, coming up with innovative ways to share their work. Let me give you two examples of friends who chose radically different approaches, but whose approaches have both been successful. One of these friends, Antonio Lysy, is a world famous cellist; his first Yarlung album won a GRAMMY Award. Another of these friends is Staci Griesbach, not a Yarlung recording artist, a singer whose YouTube celebration of Ella Fitzgerald impresses the heck out of me.
Antonio designed a multi-media tour based on the music from his GRAMMY-Award winning album Antonio Lysy at The Broad: Music from Argentina.
Antonio called his tour Te Amo Argentina (take a peek at the dancers.) I am thinking a lot about Antonio right now, as executive producers Carlos and Haydee Mollura and our recording team just finished three days of recording our third album with Antonio, tentatively titled South America. (After a tremendous concert recording with Yuko Mabuchi Trio (making their Yarlung debut) at the Brain and Creativity Institute’s Cammilleri Hall we recorded Antonio playing Piazzolla, Casals, Villa Lobos and Carlos Gardel; solo cello, cello and bandoneon, cello and flute, and cello and harp. It is luscious!) Antonio’s Te Amo Argentina tour enabled him and his tango ensemble to reach audiences in North and South America as well as in multiple tour locations in Europe.
Staci Griesbach, an executive at Sony, tried a different and equally personal approach. To celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial, Staci worked with a talented jazz trio (including members of Yarlung’s Sophisticated Lady jazz quartet) to record 100 of Ella’s songs in 100 days and publish them daily on YouTube in celebration of Ella’s 100th birthday on April 25th, 1917. What a feat! (And guess what? If you search for Ella Fitzgerald on YouTube in a few years, you are likely to reach Staci’s homage to the great lady. What better visibility than that?)
In fact, you can participate. “Staci sings Ella” will be performing at Vitello’s in Los Angeles on April 29th to raise money for the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation (a fabulous organization that supports children’s music education, reading, and healthcare). What could be better than that?
With the cultural and calendar overload so many of us experience today, musicians need creative methods to reach out to audiences. Staci and Antonio offer just two examples. What other techniques might work? Please chime in….
Bob Attiyeh, producer