Difficult words, narrow audiences and a bit of a reality check

I attended a meeting today. A rare opportunity where I felt at ease knocking around an idea. The other party was generous with his time, and valuable with his insights. It triggered equally valuable insights in me. It’s about those insights I’m writing now.

We talked about podcasts, about the classical music world, how the classical music world was run, and my disproportionate interest in reflecting on how it was run. I concluded that my interest in arts management was hardly surprising given my past, but was ‘probably a little odd’ for most mainstream audiences. On reflection, I wonder whether I might revise that phrase and refer to that interest as my USP.

We also talked about the classical music world’s dramatically small scale in relation to the music industry as a whole. We commented on the size of various magazines subscribers and readership.

One irresolute insight popped up in my head part-way through the conversation. It was like staring up at a cliff face.

Speaking as a content producer, anything I seek to produce – whether it be a blog post, a podcast, a magazine article or whatever else – is only going to appeal to a subset of an already small audience. The size of that subset is directly proportionate to the time, effort and resultant success of my distribution strategy. The potential audience for classical music really isn’t that big. Content that is an adjunct to the primary content, the music, is going to be even smaller.  

Then came the thought around potential longer-term opportunities a classical music content producer like me might have. Here, the thinking was more of a recall of previously arrived-at insights.

Classical music is an expensive artform. Orchestral concerts (largely) operate at a loss. Venues need money to keep them going – that’s why there are fundraising campaigns and the Arts Council. If money is stretched and audiences thin on the ground, what exactly is the point in seeking out work from this industry? What money there is should be going on the assets and resources critical to live performance: a venue and the performers. Anything else is, surely, a luxury.

And here’s the thing. The classical music world doesn’t really need people like me. What I do is at best, a nice-to-have. It is appreciated, of course. It is a pleasure. It taps into my core values. All of them.

But to coin a phrase, if this is as good as it can get, then is the amount of time devoted to writing about it tantamount to flogging a dead raggedy old horse?

It’s important to clarify something. This post is written to highlight some of the thoughts which have arisen from a meeting, but it’s not a criticism of it (just so we’re clear). These kind of ‘fierce conversations‘ are important in the brave new world I’ve opted to throw myself into

Nor is this post a cry for help or an overture (boom!) for shutting down this blog. There are financial supporters to consider after all. Instead, its more a way of triggering thought processes and potentially stimulating conversation around one fundamental question for me.

Where is the sweet spot where devoting energies to a blog that reflects a small world and appeals to an even smaller audience, when the opportunities for revenue from the wider content ecosystem are seriously limited and possibly even non-existent?

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