Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Krystian Zimerman: madman or marketing genius?


Krystian Zimerman has been making headlines recently. Reportedly, he angrily exited a performance recently, saying that YouTube was destroying music, after he caught a member of the audience filming him on a mobile phone. This act has caused a media frenzy and has catapulted him into the limelight, again. He has had similar outbursts before, but for political reasons previously.

His main point of contention is the supposed destruction of music because of YouTube. When he returned to the stage a few minutes later, he told audience members that he had lost work through posts on YouTube. This may be the case, but equally, I wonder how much exposure or how many fans he may have gained. I wonder too, whether he has considered ways of filming, posting and monetising his own YouTube videos? Wouldn't it have been great if he had invited the offender down on stage to get a better quality shot and then thanked them for the free promotion? What a headline that would have made.

As a lover of classical music, I am of course familiar with the work of Krystian Zimerman. I must admit though that he doesn't feature as one of my favourites, nor have I listened to any of his recordings recently. I especially haven't watched anything of his on YouTube. Well, at least not until now.

Being in my mid thirties, I feel like I have a foot in two camps. I recall as a teenager buying second hand records at the flea market and a monthly visit to the CD store to find as many bargain CDs as my limited funds could allow. I also fully embrace new technology, including YouTube and social media. I haven't bought a CD in a few years now. I instead favour the subscription model provided by Spotify.

Clearly, the music industry has and is changing. There are some recording companies and artists who "get it" and there are others that don't. I believe, in all industries, that those who embrace change and innovate with the times, survive and even thrive. Those that don't, become increasingly less relevant.

So you decide: Is this a case of a madman decrying the march of progress? Or the mark of a marketing genius at work? I say the latter. A quick glance at his Facebook popularity may help convince you. He now has over 10 000 page likes. I wouldn't mind that many...you've liked my Facebook page, right? If not, it's there on the right hand column...just a click away...go on...please.

So well done to Krystian Zimerman for creating some hype and getting noticed. I wonder if there is a new CD release out soon? Is this pre-release hype? Hmmm.
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