Nobody Listens to That Stuff Anymore

Nobody listens to that stuff anymore

We hear that classical music is dying. We hear it all the time. I've heard it ever since I entered music at the age of 11. I've also heard that you can't get a job, it's hard to make a living in music.

For something that's dying, classical music is still pretty strong. So who says it's dying? Well, people who judge things by numbers: 90 is more than five so 90 must be better. Of course 90 cheeseburgers compared to five Maseratis…

I'll get into this dying nonsense in another blog. Right now I want to address something more disturbing.

I've worked with colleagues in the educational system who have tried to dissuade students from enrolling in classes based on classical music by asserting that nobody listens to that stuff any more. Now, this is either self-serving in order to populate a different class, uninformed simply because they themselves are unaware of the classical music community in their town or city, or intellectually dishonest – a lie serve their own preferences. Whatever, it's reprehensible.

Not only do people still listen, over 40 million people attend at least one classical concert a year. Now granted, that's only 16% of the concert going public, but that 16% is steady through all age groups from 18 to 73. Imagine having that as a target audience to market to.

And every year 155,000 students graduate with degrees in music: not music education, not the music industry – professional and/or academic degrees in music. I suspect that number is actually a little low. The source I got that number from listed only one university in my state that gave degrees in music: there are at least seven. Now, I don't suggest that the number is off by a factor of seven, but it's off.

Okay so everyone doesn't find a full-time income from those degrees. But neither does everyone with a marketing degree, or a math degree, or an engineering degree. And sure music is hard profession, with many hardluck stories and many failures. The same could be said of entrepreneurs, but we keep encouraging them while we keep discouraging musicians.

So what did this educator at my school want the kids to study instead of classical? Pop and commercial styles. Good luck getting into a college auditioning with rap or Celine Dion. To be fair, there were courses offered that are reflected in college degrees: courses in jazz.

By the way, the only genre of music that has less listeners than classical is jazz at 7%.