We have finally launched our crowdfunding campaign in Voordekunst! The following post is a reflection about it.
Being in the situation of having to raise funds for this project through a crowdfunding campaign, we’ve been lately very busy getting in touch with our potential supporters. In this context, I have come read some letters of C. P. E. Bach to his editor Breitkopf, where the composer expresses his concerns about getting subscribers for his works:
I still have little news of my subscribers. I expect to hear any day now. Many places are remote. Please have patience! (4 July 1780)
My subscription appears to be doing better than I thought. I am still awaiting 3 important reports, which may be here in 10 days. (26 August 1785)
What was a subscriber and why it was so important for composers to get them? In the 18th and 19th centuries, a subscriber was a potential customer. A composer had to get a certain number of them before publishing a work or organizing a concert, in order to prove it profitable. In order to get them, C. P. E. Bach would write directly to potential subscribers, or put an advertisement in the newspaper like the following:
Hamburg. Our Kapellmeister, Monsieur Bach, has composed several new free fantasias and – spurred by the great encouragement of various music lovers who have heard these masterpieces- has decided to include a pair of them in his fourth collection of Sonatas für Kenner und Liebhaber. […]
Whoever orders 10 copies will receive an 11th without cost, or 5 copies, a half-copy without cost. Collectors will be offered the same bargain […]
When we think about it , what a role subscribers and patrons have played in the development of our art! Weren’t it for them, most likely many works of so many composers would have never come to life. Because it is something very human to want a reward for all the effort that takes the creativity process. But also: what is a creation that cannot find its way to the world? What is music without an interested listener, both in the audience and in the performer?
When artist and audience are related in such way, it has an effect on the artistic decisions. I think again on C. P. E. Bach, and on his set of sonatas For Connoisseurs and Admirers. Apart from the fact that such a title would bring more profits to both composer and editor, Emanuel Bach was being aware of the different tastes of the audience, and far from lowering his quality he finds a way to offer a fine example of his art in a manner that is reachable for admirers as well. This is not a compromise: it is communication. And that is what we essentialy do as musicians. We have to move the audience, and in order to do that we have to understand its needs, the mood, the atmosphere of the moment. And play with it.
Doing a crowdfunding campaign has proven to be an enriching challenge for us because to reach our goal we need to attract supporters (our nowadays “subscribers”) and in order to do that we have to apply many skills we use to play music: we have to understand what they are looking for in a concert experience, what concerns them as listeners and human beings, what they might feel.
At the beginning, I thought all of this funding business had little to do with the music-making. Actually, I am starting to believe that it is the opposite: Music is not an isolated phenomenon, we all take part of it – performers when they play, listeners when they appreciate, producers and supporters when they give their opinion and help us give shape to our ideas.
Would you like to be part of this process? Would you like to join our subscribers’ list? Follow our campaign, support us, and share your thoughts with us!