James Tobin wrote:
>>>far fewer people than formerly in the American population claim an
>>>interest in classical music.
>>On what do you base this assertion? My understanding is that the number
>>has remained relatively constant at around (ballpark) 5% of the
>I don't have statistics myself and Horowitz' (name) index will not find
>this for me but he does mention a survey or two that indicated decades
>ago that substantially more than 5% claimed an interest in this kind of
>music. I do recall his saying that something like 60% of New Yorkers,
>especially, knew who Toscanini was in the 1930s, and you would be
>hard-pressed to get that kind of survey result now about any classical
>musician. Maybe Beethoven?
There are some interesting published studies.
According to the Knight report http://www.knightfdn.org/default.asp
(check bottom of page and click on "Magic of Music Symphony Orchestra
The Knight report suggests that a maximum of 27% of the adult population
is a potential audience for classical music. On the other hand, Performing
arts, the economic dilemma; a study of problems common to theater, opera,
music, and dance. / Baumol, William J. / New York / 1966
as I recall, suggested that within a given metropolitan area less than
15% of the population was a potential audience for the performing arts.
Not exactly the same thing.
For me, part of the problem with all of these studies is that they do
not really define what they mean by classical music...are they talking
Bach, Brahms, Beethoven (in small doses); Bach, Brahms, Beethoven
(unedited) or Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Boulez, Bussotti, Bartok?
It is sad that the Knight Foundation report, with all of its good
intentions, basically tells those in the performing arts, if you want
to maximize revenue, dumb down content...well, at least that was the way
I read it.
Then there is the question of the other means of distribution, recordings.
Moreover, attendance at classical concerts appears to be rising slightly.
According to a 1997 survey commissioned by the National Endowment for
the Arts, more than 15 percent of respondents attended a classical music
event the previous year, a 3 percentage point increase from five years
earlier. And while classicals share of CDs is not large, it appears to
have held steady over the past 20 years.
and Virgin Group's Virgin Digital, a Los Angeles-based downloading and
music-streaming site launched last September, is working on incorporating
and cataloging classical pieces for its site and now has 70,000 classical
tracks, out of a million tracks overall. Also in the past year, Yahoo's
Musicmatch has built its classical selection from 3,000 to more than
12,000 tracks (out of a total of 850,000).
Record companies say they are tuning in now because they see
downloading of classical music, among other categories, as a growth area.
Currently, classical music represents about 3 percent of the $12 billion
recorded-music market, a figure that has been fairly flat over the past
few years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
and then again
Jazz and Classical music increased their standing in the market slightly
with 3.4 percent of all music items purchased being in the Jazz genre,
while 3.2 percent of music items were Classical music.
and still more...
In a marketplace spun asunder by the digital revolution, classical
recording labels have been forced to face the music: Traditional schemes
for peddling their albums don't work anymore. Sales of classical music
CDs are at a four-year low, and dropping. This comes at a time when --
according to the wisdom of demographics -- those numbers should be
In 1999, Americans bought 17.3 million classical CDs, according to the
tracking service Nielsen SoundScan. That's a paltry figure compared
with the total number of CDs purchased (754.8 million), but classical
music has never netted the big marketplace grosses of rock, pop or
country. Just two years later, sales of classical CDs had dropped to
15.8 million, while the overall figure for CD sales climbed to 762.8
Many years ago, I asked a guy I knew, who was a well respected Professor
of Economics, if you would recommend only one book on economics, what
would it be. His answer, "How to lie with statistics."