Interview with Daniel Pollack
now, in addition to practicing their art, artists also need to deal with the business aspect of their career. Not all want to tackle this, but the opportunity is there. And then there is the question at the end of the tunnel whether all that work will provide the bridge to a manager. I would say that if you do not have direct connections or an important prize under your belt, it is the best path available.
Is it possible for a young artist who does not have a strong financial foundation to begin a career in classical music performance?
A strong financial foundation certainly eases the road. It helps for paying managers the advance they often require, (as mentioned above); it helps with promotion as in ads, and to drive recordings. Even without paying a manager, a strong financial background would certainly help in “buying” the publicity needed in the hope of attracting an artist representative. The arts have always needed sponsors, whether it was a royal family as in Haydn’s day, or the salon days of the Liszt and Chopin times, or governments, as in the Soviet Union. Today the funding for the arts is likely to be found in the corporate world. It is up to the artist to aggressively pursue this route.
If money can be found, it is critical to have a clear path as to where the money should be earmarked. And this is where the artist is again in charge of his/her own destiny. They have to know what to ask for. There are options: funds can buy out recitals in major markets, book tours, support concert organizations in exchange for appearances, motivate managers to move careers, support/produce recordings, support directory listings/ads in musical trade magazines and websites. The sad part is that it can take large sums of money and corporations will want to see a return on their investment. So the challenge is to first have the right advice and strategy as to how to map out your career, should the funds be available and then seek the funds to sustain it.
Nobody really has the formula. Timing is of utmost importance, such as the time between competitions, when a new flock of first prizewinners appear on the horizon. Sometimes there is only a small window of opportunity that needs to be grabbed.
Money alone is not the answer. The media has a tremendous power to drive influence, curiosity and trigger attention and, as such, any potential newsworthy event is worth doing. For example, when Van Cliburn and I came to the then Soviet Union, a Cold War was raging and to have two Americans in Moscow, was news onto itself.
Capturing media attention deserves every consideration. The media has a tremendous power to influence the audience, and it should be tapped. Some artists have managed to get media attention where it may have been undeserved, yet audiences form perceptions and often follow an artist simply because they heard or read about the artist -- and opinions get swayed.
That old adage, “any publicity is good publicity,” should at least be considered and/or tried. Performing in countries where others have not tread (as I did when I performed on a tour of the People’s Republic of China, 30 years ago) countries that share no government relations, can trigger attention and the publicity can lead to performances. For example, if you are the first artist to ever play a solo concert in North Korea from your country, or Myanmar, or Albania you’ll get noticed because you are the first. Unfortunately, politics and music are very tied