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News & Information

Music Industry: June 2008 Archives

Everybody Gets A Piano

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Pearl River Piano Company

Keyboard moment in China's cultural evolution

By Petroc Trelawny
The Australian

As my plane makes its final approach into the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the mountains give way briefly to green paddy fields, and then industry takes over.

Beneath are hundreds of vast blue-roofed sheds and smoking red-brick chimney stacks. The landscape is mapped with rail yards and lorry parks; heavily laden barges crawl along the creeks of the Pearl River. With a vast economy that's now larger than that of nearby Hong Kong, Guangdong Province deserves its title as the factory of China. …

I've come to visit a company that last year made 100,000 pianos. The Pearl River Piano Company says it's now the world's largest: 3000 staff work on eight production lines, and it feels more like a car factory than a place making things as delicate and tactile as pianos.

A basic Pearl River piano costs about $1600, a fortune to many Chinese, but well within the budget of the country's burgeoning urban middle class. Their new wealth, combined with a desire to give their offspring a better childhood than they experienced, has led to an obsession with the piano in China. Conservative estimates suggest that 30 million Chinese children are learning the instrument; many reckon the figure is much higher. One academic told me the country was in the grip of piano fever.

Read more about this at The Australian website:

   http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,23910488-16947,00.html

Rise of the Machines

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Are Digital Orchestras a Sign of the Times?

By David Pogue
New York Times

This past weekend, I attended an astonishing performance of "Les Misérables" performed by 13- to 17-year olds at a local theater program. Two things made it memorable: first, that this program's director was able to find such amazing voices in this age group, especially for a show where most of the characters are men. (In my experience, more teenage girls than boys are interested in theater.)

Second, the production came breathtakingly close to simulating a full professional production – on a church rec-room stage that measures about 30 feet across and 12 feet deep. We're talking tiny. "Les Minirables."

And yet it worked, partly because the carefully built, minimal sets and props were just enough to suggest their big-budget Broadway equivalents – and partly because of a digital orchestra that accompanied the cast.

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/technology/05pogue-email.html

Conflict of Interest?

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Universal Music Artist Agency

The Manager as Double Agent

By Matthew Gurewitsch
Wall Street Journal

Last fall, the Universal Music Group, owners of the premier classical labels Decca and Deutsche Grammophon, sent shock waves through the industry when they launched, without warning, the Universal Music Artist Agency, offering the company's glamorous roster of recording artists – we are talking the likes of Renée Fleming and Lang Lang – for galas, corporate events, promotional campaigns and even Christmas parties. Mind you, these stars were not Universal's clients.

Under the contracts the world of classical music is used to, the person who negotiates an artist's services for performances, personal appearances, endorsements, recording deals and any other activities is the artist's manager. The historic role of the recording company – whether Universal or a competitor like Sony Classical or EMI Classics – has been to finance recordings and handle manufacturing, distribution, press and promotion, while retaining copyright in perpetuity.

Read more about this at the Wall Street Journal website:

   http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121244733967139457.html

Music directors' salaries are definitely on the upswing

By Charles Storch
Chicago Tribune

At events scheduled here Monday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is to officially introduce Riccardo Muti as its music director-designate. Should Muti be asked why he chose to commit here instead of, say, New York, it's likely he will cite the chance to lead our world-class orchestra and reside in our congenial city.

Don't expect him or the CSO to reveal how much he will be paid when he begins a five-year term as music director in September 2010.

Most symphony orchestras are loath to reveal up-to-date compensation (pay and benefits) for top executives and contractors. Like other U.S. not-for-profits, it can expect two or more years to pass before its tax filings, containing pay details, are readily accessible…

Read more about this at the Chicago Tribune website:

   http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-music-salaries-0601jun01,0,6092832.story

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