Yesterday we posted a short video of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing the theme songs to old video games. We thought it was both charming and a wondrous opportunity to make ribald sport of our man Birch and his Hungarian manservant.
Today we received a request from the assistant director of PR for the orchestra asking us (nicely) to take the video down. I agreed, but prodded her for an explanation. It seems to me that free blog publicity for a traveling show aimed largely at Internet-savvy dorks is exactly what the PLAY! concert series should be looking for.
The assistant director of PR responded thusly:
The issue is that the video was not authorized in advance and that is a violation of our contract with our musicians: Like all major American orchestras (and like screen actors, some video game composers and many other performing artists), the musicians of the BSO are full-time professionals that operate under extensive contracts which include prohibitions and provisions for broadcast and electronic media. Unfortunately, at this time, blogs and independent online media are not approved for broadcast. That one of the many reasons that we say, at the top of the show, “personal recording devices of any kind are strictly prohibited.” There are plenty of other reasons, such as artistic integrity and the need to have people AT the concert rather than watching after the fact, but the contract is the main one.
I suppose you can’t blame the orchestra for trying to uphold its end of a contract with musicians. So I guess our only hope is to convince the entire classical music world that refusing free advertising is no way to save an art form that is already circling the drain of cultural relevance. And if anyone believes that even one person skipped the PLAY! concert in Baltimore in the hope that somebody would later post a grainy compressed video with a giant giggling doofus in the background, then I guess I don’t have this Internet thing figured out after all…
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to my room and play my tiny iPhone violin in sadness at the whole affair.