This “article” is a series of 3 papers written by students in an Entrepreneurship in Music course. The topic of the paper is “Music in 2020.” In other words, where do you think music will be in 2020? What will be new? How will the musical landscape have changed and evolved, and how should we prepare for that now? The three authors all express unique ideas and perspectives on the future of music. I suppose none of us know with certainty what the future will hold, but with innovative thinking and careful planning, perhaps we can influence that future just a little bit!
In the year 2020, technology will become an increasingly more integral part of classical music. Our audiences have already been treated to technological additions to the traditional concert/performance: television screens at orchestral concerts, supertitles for operas, electronic music. In many ways, classical music will follow popular music in the amount of technology used to enhance performances.
In 2020, even more than in 2010, people will be starved for time, and arts organizations will need to cater to this. In 2020, concerts will be marketed as a way to relax and get away from hectic lifestyles, in a more social setting than just switching on the TV at home. People used to go to the opera or symphony because it was a social event—this will be a good marketing strategy to get people to come to concerts in 2020, because humans need to see each other face to face sometimes too! We are social animals.
The definition of art is something of value that stands the test of time. In our culture, and in the culture of 2020, we are much too used to instant gratification, and put value into thing which catch our attention because of shock value or novelty. These things don’t last, but create momentary entertainment that manages to engage our ADD minds. Classical music comes from a time when value and time was put into the craft, instead of modern insta-stardom like American idol, for instance. In 2020, classical music will still be around and kicking because of its complexity. Complex music lasts longer than a hit song (with about 3 chords that stays on the Top 10 chart for maybe a week or two), because it engages people on an intellectual as well as emotional level. Classical musicians in 2020 will market this as a reason to keep the genre around!
One aspect of classical music will always remain the same, in 2020 or any time in history: the human and emotional element. Why don’t we get a robot to play the clarinet instead of that orchestral musician who requires a salary every year? The robot could play the longest phrase ever written without running out of breath, perfect every single time….
And yet, classical music is not about this. It is the fact that a person plays the impossibly long phrase that makes it interesting and exciting. Humans are fascinated with human achievements, and we love it when someone pushes the envelope of something that doesn’t seem possible. Just look at the Olympics—athletes are continually breaking records that would have seemed impossible only a few years earlier! Machines or recordings could easily replace athletes or musicians…but it loses its spark once the human element is taken away!
Human emotion is another thing that will always remain, and no matter how much technology we are surrounded with, we will all still want to have that personal, human connection with each other. In 2020, audiences will become less and less content with the separation between audience and stage. People will want to have personal connections with the musicians—people will be curious about the whole experience, not just sitting and listening to the performance. Performers will have to talk to the audiences, engaging them on a personal level.
In 2020 there will be increased awareness of our human bodies, and more and more will be discovered about the human brain. Because of this, we will become more aware of what helps the brain develop, and how music plays into this. There have been some studies of how music study positively affects development in children, but all of this is still vague—once more conclusive proof is found, there will be more incentive to keep music education in schools.
Along with the increased awareness of our bodies and brain function, we will also become aware of the mental effects of our sedentary, technology-laden lifestyle. A good illustration of this is in the recent Pixar movie Wall-E, where our human descendants are pictured as fat blobs sitting on chairs that do everything from transportation to feeding to sleeping to entertainment—no physical effort required! Everything is done for us.
Of course, in 2020 this extreme scenario will not exist. However, our kids will be sitting in front of screens 24/7 (even more than in 2010!), with every kind of information only a click away. Will our children lose their imaginations and their creativity with this overload of information and entertainment? In 2020, educators and parents will become increasingly concerned about this, and this is where classical music will find a niche—playing an instrument and including improvisation in musical studies will help keep children’s brains fresh!
With globalization, individual cultural identities are starting to mesh into one. People will take greater care to figure out who they are and their backgrounds, to maintain cultural identity…music of each nation will become important to explore for this reason. In 2020, ethnomusicology will be much more recognized than it is now! Perhaps 10 years is not quite enough time for this to be quite as apparent as in 100 years, but the trend will continue to grow. Musicians will be taking advantage of this interest to attract audiences.
Along with ethnomusicology, crossovers between classical and popular music will become more and more popular in 2020. Classical musicians will mesh classical technique and material with the popular to reach wider and younger audiences, and this will give musicians more opportunities to perform in non-traditional settings and combinations.
In 2020, musicians will be more flexible in their idea of a “performance career”. Successful musicians will be engaged in a variety of different activities in addition to performing….outreach, education, different venues, different styles, fusing together multiple disciplines such as visual arts and dance to appeal to our increased affinity for multi-tasking. The musicians who are open-minded and willing to try new things will be the ones surviving.
In this 2020 world, I hope to do just that—be diverse enough to stay afloat! I will sing in opera houses, but also sing in elementary schools for education. I will do everything I can to emphasize ACTING in opera rather than just singing—with movies and television, no one wants to see someone “park and bark” in 2010, much less 2020! I will market myself as a real person playing real music through the wonderful tools of blogs, social networks and electronic news, which will only become more efficient and prevalent as time goes on. I will use technological mediums to reach audiences—even though recording will be even less lucrative than in 2010, it will be easier to reach more people through all the means of communication. In a way, being a musician in 2020 will be easier than in 2010, because everyone will have such easy access to each other’s information, and letting people know about yourself will be a piece of cake! I will make my own career by taking any opportunity that comes up—not waiting for someone to come “discover” me, or pigeon-holing myself into a particular path and not allowing myself to explore other possibilities. Musicians in 2020 will have the same goal as we have now, in 2010—remaining relevant, so that we can do what we love and preserve our creativity!