Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
The sphere of classical music is an undulating genre that spans centuries. In fact, the pandemic caused a second resurgence of classical music in 2020, with young fans gravitating towards various forms of classical crossover and individual, single-instrument artists.
For the uninitiated, and according to Classical Crossover Magazine, “Classical Crossover combines traditional classical elements such as operatic vocals, the incorporation of string instruments or full orchestration and applies it to popular music OR the reverse with rhythmic elements, belting or modern techniques used on standard classical repertoire.”
For those of us who are classical or classical-adjacent performers — and whether we enjoyed the “Covid classical conversion” or not — the transition from fans’ headphones back to their local venues can be perplexing. Some professionals have even pivoted completely away from performing on stage, in pursuit of other careers. But this does not have to be the case.
If you are thinking about going on tour this summer or simply widening your general performance aesthetic, you might be considering creative venues, formats or guest lists for your concerts. If you’re not, this summer is the perfect time to experiment. In doing so, you can return to your roots as a creative, using your cumulative knowledge of each performance as a tool to curate your next production.
Whether you are a classical musician, headbanger or somewhere in between, the life of every music career still lies in the styling and success of live entertainment. Who better to learn from than one who has made millions while remaining true to themselves, producing and singing the music he likes, not to mention teaching young fans that classical music can be invigorating?
Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s most famous opera-pop tenors with a unique sound that has awarded him praise all over the globe, is known for putting his musical career above all else. The singer has notably organized private concerts and events at his Villa Bocelli in Forte dei Marmi.
Without further ado, here are four insights I’ve gained from this classical singer’s recent performance endeavors.
Experiment With Private Events
Bocelli’s exclusive, private events at his own villa in Forte dei Marmi are ones that promise to create an intimate setting for all who attend. For instance, the performance list for a private event at the end of July at the villa is bursting with high-class fame, such as Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov — and that is by no mistake.
Private concerts offer the unique opportunity to charge exorbitant amounts because you are selling more than just a listening experience; you are peddling an intimate evening with yourself.
Curate the Talent, Not Just Yourself
On the note of the performance list, don’t be afraid to add those to your program that you feel may “steal the spotlight” from you or are “your competition.” From my perspective, there hasn’t been competition in music since Backstreet Boys vs. N*SYNC or Biggie Vs. Tupac. Even then, most people listened to both, which is precisely the point.
By bringing fellow artists in your listening sphere onto your stage, you participate in a kind of cross-marketing that is unique to musicians alone. Your fans will hear firsthand what other artists in your space are creating, and vice versa, your cohort’s fans will hear and discover you. What’s more, there is a certain level of appreciation that high-level listeners generate: By proxy, being associated with artists whom might have different strong suits from you garners more respect for you and your music because you are now associated in your listeners’ minds with high-caliber performance. This is doubled if you and your openers are of high-quality musical artistry.
Try Unexpected Venues
The exclusive concert at Bocelli’s villa at the end of this month is set to take place specifically in the garden. This high-ticket event will take place outdoors and have tables to seat guests. For a classical event, this is not unheard of, but it is still a far cry from a contemporary, or even historical, concert hall.
Do you have a friend with a passion for decorating that can create an inviting, intimate space? Are you friends with visual artists who can contribute pieces to create a combination art show-musical performance? Coffee shops, book stores, retail stores and private pools are all interesting places to consider. Just remember to get proper clearance.
Public Events: Do Not Write Them Off
Finally, I stress not to discard the idea of public events, paid or unpaid. If you are just starting out, you can gain lots of exposure by agreeing to play unpaid. However, it is crucial to know your worth. If you have been paid for a performance once, you should never work for free again unless in extremely specific circumstances.
The beauty of public events is that you can charge less but invite so many more people. It might be worth thinking about combining tip No. 2 with this venture: Beefing up your setlist is a wonderful way to find more attendees.
According to a Forbes article, Andrea Bocelli said, “I truly believe that classical music should have some very serious marketing done — the way that it is done for other music and products — something professional and good.” I think he is onto something, and this seems to be just the beginning of the new age of upscale classical music concerts.