Classical Music has a young audiences problem. It is generally regarded highly, young people view classical music as high art. In their everyday lives however, classical music often is perceived as too bulky. Even if almost everyone heard of Bach or Beethoven: who has not already grown up as a classical music fan, is not likely to become one today. Why is that?
Generally speaking, the classical music concert industry is well off. Concerts are often packed. Who visits one of those concerts however and scans the audience – the so-called ‘silver lake’ - will notice the almost total absence of young audience members. Now you do not have to convert every young person to become a classical music fan, of course. There is a debate whether many may discover a love for classical at a later stage and whether there really is a worrying lack of young audiences. But what is worrying for sure is, that even amongst the children of its core peer group, the educated middle and upper classes, the relevance of classical music is declining compared to the arts, film or theatre. To reverse this trend, classical music indeed will need to reach out to young men and women in a different way. And that comes with some difficulties.
A major issue is, that classical is having a hard time in a surrounding where you can reach young people the easiest nowadays, in the Internet. It might just be the most unsuitable art form for online communications you could think of: Classical music is not visual, requires undivided attention and its works tend to be extremely long. That is pretty much the exact opposite of what is believed to be attractive ‘online content’ today.
So will we all have to rewrite the musical works and present them in ‘snackable’ portions, to score online? Or can you find examples for successful presentation of demanding content online? Oh yes, you can!, says digital anthropologist Roman Knipping-Sorokin. Just not where you would necessarily wish to find them. In cooperation with the Reeperbahn Festival and the art music professionals’ forum Classical:NEXT we dare to make a thought experiment. We look into the methods of two groups who succeed in reaching out to and ‘recruiting’ youth online – djihadists and right-wing activists. Knipping-Sorokin has been researching their online strategies for many years. As appaling as their content and ideologies are, in our interview with the scientist we actually discover tacticts, which could also work for classical music in the world wide web.