Gaps between hype and reality

21st April 2019 | Concerts, Musings | 3 comments

Recently for work reasons I’ve had to look through the websites of lots of different young musicians and chamber groups. Websites are dazzling! It’s clear that everyone now employs sophisticated media skills and professional designers. Gorgeous artwork, glamorous photos easily mistaken for fashion shoots, web pages that dance about to a mysterious rhythm; video, audio clips, starry biographies, subscriber opportunities … the design values are very high.

I was contrasting these images in my mind with the low-tech publicity we used when I was starting out in the profession, before websites existed. Xeroxed sheets of information typed on an old manual typewriter. Simple, basic artwork. Photos taken in someone’s back garden with your flatmate’s camera. Badges designed by one of the players! (see photo).

Today, having been seduced by Vogue-level images and professionally edited sound clips, I’m sometimes disappointed by the reality of people whose images turn out to have been burnished to an unjustifiable sheen.

In the old days, there was also a gap between hype and reality, but it was the other way around. Publicity was so simple that it didn’t lead you to expect anything grand, but often one was pleasantly surprised by the high level of the actual playing, and even by the appearance of the people whose homely snaps didn’t do them justice.

On balance, I think I preferred the days when the reality outshone the publicity.


  1. Rhonda Rizzo

    Thank you for saying what I suspect many of us have been thinking. Well said.

  2. Mary Cohen

    “On balance…” Oh yes!

  3. Michael Taylor

    It’s getting easier and easier to record multiple takes of a sound clip and edit them together to produce an unblemished recording on any old laptop. That all said, a clearly shot video should help communicate the “real” sense of the musician.

    I do have to say that website hosts are getting better and better at creating free easy-to-use templates that look beautiful. They may not actually be putting much work into it, besides perhaps getting a nice photograph.

    On the other hand, who goes to these websites to look at pretty photographs and animations and biographies? I do prefer to just skip straight to the “media” section, to listen to whatever they have on offer. Bonus points if they’re good writers…


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