One of my dear friends, composer David Ludwig, was able to maintain the same phone number throughout multiple moves during conservatory and thereafter. For about fifteen years he had the same number. I still remember it. Now he does not have a home line. I can’t recall my own home number now, come to think of it. Before long, we won’t need to know a person’s number, just their name.
I graduated from Curtis Institute in 1999, had a Macintosh Classic, a large Nokia cellular phone, used AOL for all my email and web browsing, and had an agreement signed with myself, taped to my wall stating that I would not play Tetris for more than 4 hours a week to ensure my cello practicing was not deterred by frivolous activities. Things have changed a bit since I left school.
2000 – The first Flash Drive is released along with Bose Noise Canceling Headphones
2001 – Wikipedia goes live and the iPod is released
2002 – Friendster goes live and Google News launches with 4000 sources
2003 – MySpace launches
2004 – Facebook and Flickr go live
2005 – YouTube launches with an 18 second video filmed by a co-founder at the San Diego Zoo
2006 – Twitter goes live and Google Calendar is released
2007 – The first iPhone & the Amazon Kindle are released
2008 – Wifi is available on select aircraft in flight
2009 – YouTube serves 1 billion videos a day
2010 – iPad & iPhone 4 are released along with Google Translator, Facebook outpaces Google as the No. 1 Search for the first time
Today, 3 smartphones are activated every second. Teens in the United States send an average of 100 text-messages a day and consider calling to be rude. 60% of the United States population is on Facebook. Very soon people will access the internet via their mobile devices more than through a fixed internet connection. So, why does this matter to cellists who have enough on their plate trying to play Arpeggione in tune with expression or deal with getting the bulkhead seat on certain aircraft?
Because at the end of the day, we (musicians) don’t practice most of our lives to play for ourselves – we want to use our instrument as a vehicle to express the composer’s intentions and our interpretation of the music to connect with people. In 1999, if you had told me that I would leave a career as a cellist to become a tech entrepreneur I would have said you were insane. Technology has caused a lot of disruptive change for our field, and while it is causing some long-time revenue sources to crumble, technology is enabling incredible new opportunities for our field – as daunting as it may seem. Like learning any musical language, technology and entrepreneurism is a language that one can become fluent in without being an artistic sellout. It takes time, experience, practice, guidance, personal questioning, and out-of-the-box thinking, but getting started is essential because the rate of change that is our “New Reality” will not be kind to anything else.
Music humanizes cultures. Technology is bringing together thousands of years of rich culture and democratizing access to art in ways that were previously unimaginable. I want to share a Thomas Freidman quote to start this dialogue:
“In today’s wired world, the most important economic competition is no longer between countries or companies. The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination. Because what your kids imagine, they can now act on farther, faster, and cheaper than ever before – as individuals. Today just about everything is becoming a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas.”
As musicians, we practice and prepare ahead of a concert, so that we are free to take risks in a performance or audition setting. This skill set is incredibly powerful and when harnessed towards other mediums can be equally powerful and meaningful to the creator.
This is the first of my posts that is part of a new site launching for cellists – CelloBello – thanks to the incredible cellist, teacher and leader, Paul Katz. I am honored to be a part of CelloBello and thank Paul for including me in this valuable platform. I hope to share my experiences as part of cutting-edge tech initiatives with the arts and to engage in a dialogue with artists about what it means to be a 21st Century Performer and Arts Ambassador.