Review of the International Artists Management Association Conference 2016
The IAMA – International Artists Management Association - meetings twice a year are a firm date in many artist manager’s diaries. The first one of this year took place in Utrecht, Holland April 7-9, 2016, and attracted over 400 delegates with the motto “Shake it off”. This could be interpreted in various ways – shake off the depressive mood that has become so prevalent when talking about classical music or shake off the old ways of doing business and take active steps in new directions. Both interpretations were equally valid within the context of the discussions.
Markus Stenz concentrated on conveying the live moment as well as the dangers of a shrinking repertoire - reducing it to the choice to safe choices that will “sell”. Encourage curiosity was his key message, while keeping quality. He also conducted the evening’s concert with the Netherlands Radio Philhamonic in an informal setting, and a shorter, more dynamic format mixing contemporary and classic repertoire, presenting it to a much younger-than-usual audience.
Jamie Bernstein not only focused on the upcoming celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of her father Leonard Bernstein, but also spoke about her work with the “El Sistema” program, a voluntary sector music education program. Based on reliable studies and prognostics, the worldwide movement will be enrolling over one million students by 2020, making Jamie Bernstein believe that there will be a younger and more involved public for classical music concerts in the future. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
Ivan Fischer gave the third keynote, concentrating on the changing role of the structure of the orchestra itself – how it will look like in the long term. In his opinion, the orchestra of the future will have to be much more attuned to the individual member. It will not just be about the, for example, 4th horn player sticking to the rules of the union’s contract, but about the interests of this individual, about his ambitions, what makes him tick and happy. Would he like to have solo evenings or be part of a chamber group, does he enjoy working with children/young adults/seniors, what are his ideas for improvement/ change. Taking the individual into consideration may mean a lot more work for orchestra management and planning, but it will enrich and sustain the institution as well as enlarging its reach and influence in the community it serves. The ensuing podium discussion suggested many different models of operation for the future, even questioning the necessity of keeping large orchestras with 100 + tenured members.
In between sessions, young talent was showcased by such non-profit organizations as the PLMF Music Trust from Estonia, Young Concert Artists and TivoliVredeburg. The quality level of the young artists was exceptional.
Podium discussions focused on:
- getting creative about making classical music attractive to younger audiences making attendance more informal and more dynamic, live moderation being a big hit. But definitely don’t compromise on the quality of the music.
- The future of early music after the death of Nicolaus Harnoncourt
- Business models for artists management questioning the traditional commission model, exclusivity and the rise of self-management by artists via the internet.
Useful peer-to-peer workshops covered topics such as
- Communicating with promoters and artist managers and the increasing difficulty of getting answers. This was a very hands-on session dealing with day-to-day problems. There was no clear solution offered other than persistence and the realisation that old-fashioned face-to-face meetings still offer the fastest and best resolutions.
- Touring with instruments and meeting the challenges of today’s restrictive regulations.
- Managing social media – there is no question that it is here to stay, but who carries it out and who pays for these tasks. The artists themselves? Their management? Special agencies? The answers were as diverse as the questions, but one factor stood out: authenticity is key.
Altogether, conferences of this kind offer an excellent platform for networking and being able to meet face to face with old and new contacts. This was evident by the always full tables in the main meeting places and the heads huddled together in deep conversation. For this aspect alone, it is worth to be a member of IAMA.
As an IAMA member, you can log in to the IamaWorld website and listen to replays of the main sessions at http://www.iamaworld.com/26th-iama-conference.aspx
The 27th conference will be held November 10-12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
Zenaida des Aubris is Consultant for International Cultural Events, living in Berlin. Born in Argentina, she has over 25 years experience in management and production of classical music in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Email: zda (at) artsmanagement.net