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I received my Boosey & Hawkes Newsletter the other day — always a good read, but one article caught my eye immediately. It’s a piece headlined “B&H Composers On Myspace”, and it details how several of their biggest names now have myspace pages:

Now even B&H composers can get invitations to join “webcam groups” (Nope. Don’t want to know what that is) from “Oksana” (Nope. Not a real person).

BCM has a page, yup. It seemed interesting and easy (and harmless enough) to put one together, for sure. And I can see where if the engine is worked consistently and with diligence, it can be an amazing marketing tool. I’m also betting your average 16-year old Radiohead fanboy would really dig someone like Meredith Monk, or Steve Reich — they’ve just never had an opportunity to hear their stuff. So why not see if you can’t reach them?

But I’m less sure that this would make a dent for, say, Christopher Rouse. I just don’t see his audience anywhere in there. Can’t even conceive of Rouse copied onto an iPod, and myspace seems to work best for music you’d want to steal. Likewise for Steven Mackey (the other Mackey!). He’s giving it a go, definitely—he’s put up his coolest pieces (although not my particular favorite, his Micro-Concerto for Percussion and Chamber Ensemble)—but from the comments on the page, I’m getting the vibe that no one has a clue who he is, or cares. “Very cool sounds!!!!”, or “Nice to hear real instruments” does not bode well for an established composer.

The myspace concept is brilliant of course. But I personally find it hard to get past the kinks, like the fact that the audio streaming is simply horrendous. Or that the pages are ugly as sin, or that your page layout can get knocked to Kingdom Come when some yahoo posts a ginormous picture of a barbie doll in your comments. ‘Cause there are prettier, more targeted knockoffs which might be a better fit…

But this might not be the worst idea for John Adams. Or Steve Reich. Or especially Elena Kats-Chernin, who might be the best sign B&H has done in 20 years. Her music is cool as anything, and masterfully crafted—but also sincerely unique. Myspace might work for her. Her stuff’s got legs, and the wider the net you throw for her, I say the better. A snippet of her excellent Clocks is streamed from the page, and everyone should hear that piece.

For the other Big Guys my gut reaction is to grumpily grunt “…if I want to hear Music for 18 Musicians, I can pop in the CD.” It might sound slightly better than in the 16-bit cruddy internet stream. But in this forum, those who don’t know that marvelous masterpiece could conceivably get a taste, and I’m betting their minds will be blown.

What would be even cooler yet is if B&H somehow gets all of them to post bits of works-in-progress and such on their myspace pages instead of their finished pieces. Their personal webpages could be left for the serious-minded—those interested in playing their music, and the myspace page for the quirky throwaways, the non-final drafts … y’know, the interesting stuff. I’d be on board with that, and would check in on their profiles all the time. Me and “Oksana”.

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