25 March 2015
classikON: busting myths in the classical music industry
© SJ Allen
'I'd love to get into classical music, but it's all too hard, you know? I mean you have to dress up, there's nothing happening locally and it's expensive, right?'
How many times did I hear this! All I could say was, you're kidding me right? This couldn't be further from the truth. The classical music scene in Australia is very much alive, kicking and totally accessible. There wasn't much point me going on about it, I needed to do something. So classikON was born to promote independent musicians in intimate venues. Somewhere online to go to find out what was on locally, in small interesting venues, where you could wear what you like or just go for an hour or so, and hear something extraordinary. The response from the musicians and the audience base has been overwhelming.
Why did I take this on? Many people assume I'm a musician because they regularly see me at concerts, so I'll start with a confession, I can't read music. I had piano lessons when I was a child until the teacher told my mum she was wasting her money. I was happy with this outcome.
That's not to say I don't love music! I grew up immersed in it. My grandfather, Ken Tribe, was a great ambassador for classical music in Australia and made a huge impact on the music scene. We had a great relationship. He showed me how to focus on one thing at each concert we went to, which added incredibly to my enjoyment of music as an audience member.
At home my parents' love of both jazz and classical music regularly streamed out of the speakers and stories and dinner parties about the art and cultural life of Australia were commonplace.
classikON started after Ken Tribe died, because I wanted to do something to help continue what he was doing, but with my own flavour. I wanted to bust a few myths of my own.
I'd owned a boutique market research consultancy which helped small business owners to understand their customers and grow their business. I used these skills and technological know-how to set up classikON.
The first myth I wanted to bust was that there wasn't much happening. classikON has now published over 1500 concerts (on its events page) at over 400 locations and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The music ranges from early baroque period to newly composed, new arrangements of older works, and acoustic to electric.
Classical music is not always expensive! In fact, a third of the concerts we've listed were free or $25 or less and about 80% had tickets for $50 or less.
The other myth I wanted to bust was that classical music concerts
are too long. I found that a third of the concerts had a duration
of 90 minutes and many were less than
an hour. So I categorised them like that on the website - to
help people who had time pressure.
New music has always been a passion of mine - and not surprisingly we find that works by living composers are in 30% of our concerts.
We work with musicians as well - talking to them about the value of having drinks or afternoon tea after the concert so they can get to know the audience. We ran a competition for a phrase musicians would love to wear on a t-shirt. The winning phrase 'I'm not sure when to clap either' is now available on a range of items and regularly gets a laugh.
We have a team of Ambassadors who go to concerts and write reviews on the classikON blog. We ask that the reviews aren't a critique of the music but describe the night… How they felt, what the crowd like, and what the venue like, as well as the music. All these factors impact your memory of a concert, how we can describe them to others, and a decision about if you'd go to the same venue or group again.
We're growing and expanding this year, and looking forward to a bright future.
© Australian Music Centre (2015) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
Kate Tribe owned boutique market research consultancy, Tribe Research, for almost two decades before founding classikON. Her passion for classical music was fostered by her friendship with her grandfather, Ken Tribe. She combines her experience from Tribe Research with her passion for supporting entrepreneurs and musicians and creators, and making classical music accessible with classikON.
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