I founded and run a group called the American Modern Ensemble in New York City. Although I have a lot on my plate, I have been considering starting a podcast that focuses on modern music. This could incorporate elements of AME, such as interviews from our concerts, excerpts from composer's works, and so on. Since AME is a modern group, it deserves a modern outpost in cyberspace, which would help us attract a larger audience. This podcast would be a step in the right direction.
Just as I think that as the Kindle and similar devices will ultimately subvert printed books, I predict that podcasts will—and already are—the death of many radio shows. Not all, since I really believe that talented hosts are few and far between (just listen to the myriad of bad podcasts out there to see what I mean, the ones with low rating on iTunes, for example), but certainly most.
Back to AME, we have mini-interviews at our concerts with the composers, and although this has been a great way for audience members to connect with the composers and see that they live and breathe, it is really just a tease and certainly does not allow us to go into great depth.
Furthermore, there are far too few Podcasts and radio programs that focus on living composers, and the few that exist are either located on college campuses or in out-of-the-way towns, or of a somewhat limited scope. This podcast would be more candid and open than most pseudo-scripted radio shows. Also, as long as you work out the kinks ahead of time—and for those who know me, I have become somewhat tech-savvy over the last few years—it would hopefully not be that time-consuming, but would also reach a broader audience.
There is just too much inefficiency built into the modern music world. All concerts should be good enough to record, and digital files should be automatically available. The problem is that live concerts are often never perfect enough to release to the public, since careful scrutiny will reveal subtle flaws, whether technical or performer-based. Usually, audiences do not readily notice these small mistakes, but great performers are perfectionists, and they like to really get a piece of music right before it is listened to over and over again.
A podcast would allow us to expand upon a resource at our disposal, the wonderful guest composers who show up to our concerts, and would also allow us to hear more from the performers. It would also allow me to talk about issues outside of our concerts but related to the modern music world. I am not that into writing about modern music, particularly because there are many people who already do it so much better than I ever could, such as Alex Ross and Bruce Hodges. But I really like the idea of being able to listen to what composers have to say while listening to clips of their works. After all, it's music, and the best way to describe music while talking about it is by playing it.
Finally, one requirement is that I would never do this podcast alone. I find that the most interesting podcasts always include others, whether as guests or with two or more hosts. I will try to interest my wife Victoria, since she provides such a good foil, but if she's not into it, I'll look around, or just use different guests, or rotating guests.
I am most interested in quality rather than quantity. I would probably attempt one podcast a month, and if I can somehow generate income (although it is nearly as impossible to generate income from a podcast as it is from a blog), I could probably up it to two per month.
I am still not sure whether this webcast would focus exclusively on American composers, although I am pretty sure it would, or if it will be an offshoot of AME. I think I will just have it be my own personal podcast focusing on American Music so I could branch out and do other projects. After all, AME's current season is only three programs, although that will hopefully change).
I am not sure what to call it, but here are some ideas: Modern Music Today, Living Breathing Composers, ComposerCast, Living Composers. These are all pretty dry and a little boring, so if you have a better idea, let me know.
Also, perhaps importantly, if I mess up, I want the onus to fall on me, not AME. If I ask a crazy question or go off on a rant, AME should be a secondary player on the whole process, mostly just providing access to composers, performers and great music.
If I do go through with this, it will probably roll out in fall, 2009.
So what I need to know is if this will interest anyone. I might go ahead and do it anyway, but I would be grateful for feedback.
What do you think? Should I embark down this path?