3 thoughts on “Judging by the Cover…

  1. Phillip says:

    Jennifer, the absence of physical product in new modes of recorded classical music dissemination (downloads to I-Pod, etc.) will have an interesting effect on this trend towards superficiality in marketing. It hasn’t just been CD’s, of course; live concerts are also often marketed on the basis of the soloist’s sex appeal. The problem is not that certain soloists have big careers because of their looks; as I have written elsewhere, the question is, rather, who is the industry “missing out” on because they do not meet these superficial criteria of “marketability” when it comes to physical appearance. This is an especially onerous pressure on young female performers.

  2. Phillip,
    Thank you for your comment and for providing the link to thinking you’ve already done on the subject. Your last sentence brings to mind changes I’ve noticed in images of conductor Marin Alsop over the past five years as she’s risen to stardom. The make-up artists have descended on her as if responding to a 911 call. Gone, too, is a sweet-faced, slightly pudgy Anne Sophie Mutter. Her latest releases display a super-model figure. I wonder if rumors will travel as they did when Maria Callas transformed her shape: She ingested a tapeworm, they whispered.
    I agree with what you suggest in your post: Let art be a refuge from the marketing machine.

  3. Frank Dominguez says:

    Philip makes a great point about the marketing of appearance over ability in classical music, especially with women artists. It’s even more perfidious in pop culture, of course.
    The dramatic crux of the wildly popular movie Dreamgirls is that the better singer gets passed over for the sexier one. And even the actress playing that better singer, Jennifer Hudson, is already being talked about as someone who will eventually be cruelly overlooked by the industry, even before she’s won the Oscar everyone’s predicting she’ll get.
    But back to classical music, I think one reason that emphasis seems pernicious is that this music is by its nature supposed to be beyond that. The judgment of what is “cool” or who has “sex appeal” changes with time, but this is music that has endured precisely because it is judged to be “timeless.”
    And that makes it quite a challenge to market, to be sure! Somewhere between quaint 18th century paintings and scantily clad performers, there must be some valid concept for cover art that actually gets what classical music lovers really appreciate about this music.

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