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Welcome to the bazaar!

November 17th, 2011 by Ralf Kircher

“The small business is the idealized social form of our time. Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. Autonomy, adventure, imagination: entrepreneurship comprehends all this and more for us. The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan […]”

(William Deresiewicz, American writer)

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We got used to consider musical pedagogic institutes being irresponsible, as they have failed to offer to their students any proper education in marketing for so long time. We hold meetings all over the world – music managers, philosophers, sociologists, PR-experts participating – in order to develop new methods in presenting classical music. We adapt operas for staging them for new ranks of audiences: infants, outlaws and pets. We literally have tons of musical instruments being dragged up a mountain in order to perform the “Alpensinfonie” in authentic surroundings. We set up reality shows in TV, having C-class celebrities “conduct” (rather move awkwardly in front of) symphony orchestras and let the people at home vote for or against the fake maestri/-ae (all that supervised by a jury of self-proclaimed experts). We compose opera-raps and techno-symphonies. We have, we do, we try, we… we are busily developing business plans – and the task is: how do we people of the classical music industry [sic!] manage to create and maintain public interest in that what we have got to offer – classical music?

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The classical concert event of our days is a rather old invention: it was developed between 1880 and 1910 – the geometrical setup (a central stage within a specially designed building), the time-wise procedure (twice approx. 45 minutes of music, an intermission of 15 to 20 minutes between), the structure of the concert program (ouverture – soloist – symphony), the solemn, almost ecclesial atmosphere during the performance, all of that has remained exactly the same for more than hundred years already. The outside world, however, has changed a lot. Or better say: our perception of the world is a quite different one than during the pre-war period. The sixties, for example, accomplishing sexual and social-political liberation, provided a rather else view of life than the dot-com craze, that swept us away at the end of the nineties.

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Sobered and disillusioned we return back to business: Entrepreneurs of the world, unite! Steve Jobs is dead. Long live Steve Jobs.

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Social networks have finally supplied us with all the instruments we need for creating and advertising the ultimate merchandise of our times: our own identity. For some funny reasons, there is no option for staying out of the business, that would resemble social suicide. Is there any “me” as long I have not set up profiles on fb, skype, twitter or linkedin? I am forced to constantly feed the golem, which is supposed to represent “me”, with new content (Update your status! What’s on your mind?). Consequently, cultivating contacts (“friends”) means hardly more than trading these highly artificial identities. The global village has turned into a global bazaar…

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A business plan is a tool for decision making: what kind of customers (audience) am I referring to? What are the ultimate goals of my business ideas? How do I pursue them in the most effective way? One needs a business plan when establishing new enterprises, arranging the succession within old ones, when changing the structure, correcting the direction, starting cooperations, when introducing new products or deciding on investments.

Does that sound familiar to us myriads of CEO’s of myriad’s of “I-inc.’s”? Striving for the sublime  – the ultimate aim of all the art that we call “great” – is out, we are too busy with performing business, too self-regarding in dealing with ourselves. We refer to us as “pragmatical” – narcissistic would be a much more appropriate term to use. In contrast to our shopping centres, the bazaar has an exceptional feature: all the adjoining market stalls offer the same products. Consequently, there is a steady screaming and shouting, all the shopkeepers are competing wildly for their possible customers’ awareness. Shamed be he who associates that to the bustling ado on fb’s news feed page…

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The audience has changed, as the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stated already more than four decades ago, it has changed from a resonating audience to a consuming one. The audience is our customer and wants to be treated as such: the customer is the king, and – le roi, c’est moi!

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