Breaking classical music out of its rarefied world of concert halls and into the seemingly endless universe of the Internet is an inevitable path, says a prominent concert cellist turned tech entrepreneur.
“I think you have to figure out a way to use the tools toward your advantage,” said Margo Drakos, a classically trained cellist and partner in the SwitchCase Group, a technology investing firm in Los Angeles. SwitchCase looks for tech start-ups committed to growing the arts.
The shift by organizations of all types to become more engaged with users through the Web has not always been a smooth one, Drakos said.
“It’s causing disruptive change,” said Drakos, who spoke Monday to the Baton Rouge Press Club and was in town to deliver the keynote address at the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts convocation.
“There’s new opportunity and new models unfolding,” she added. “And I think you have to think outside of the box about that.
“It’s not something that you can control,” Drakos said of a world made almost dizzy by the speed and viral nature of the Internet. “And I think it’s sad for a lot of artists to realize that things are not as permanent as they once were.”
Through communication platforms like social media or mobile apps on smartphones, technology is ensuring that businesses and arts organizations become more participatory, interactive and ripe for engagement with users, or in the case of the performance arts — audience members, Drakos said.
“The ‘we play, you listen’ is no longer the sustainable model,” she explained. “So we have to figure out new ways without being a sell-out.”
Drakos began playing the violin at 2 years old, and then went on to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. She has performed in the Pittsburgh Symphony, and was principal cellist of the San Diego, Seattle and Oregon symphonies. Drakos has served as Artist-in-Residence and faculty member at Manhattan School of Music and Aspen Music Festival. In 2008 Drakos completed a masters program in International Affairs at Columbia University.
Her aim is to use technology to have classical arts reach more viewers and listeners.
“Just as artists and organizations of the past leveraged the media channels of their time, so must we use the mediums of our time: the Web, smartphones, tablets, social media, video and mobile apps,” Drakos told the Press Club. “The arts need to use the language of our time — technology — to meaningfully expose citizens to art.”