Competition Variation

In case you missed it, please read my reflection on music competitions (Link)

Australian pianist and friend Daniel Gassin recently shared his views of music competitions on his blog. He was a participant in the 2007 Montreux Piano Competition. I’m planning on responding to Daniel’s post in the near future. I’d like to address his questions and discuss musicians who’d “rather be doing gigs and tours with leading musicians than winning competitions.”

In the meantime, I wrote this:

Let’s face it: Competitions are here to stay. The concept may be absurd, but they’re not going anywhere. There will always be presenters to host them and artists to participate in them. So rather than fight against music competitions, I thought of a few ways to enhance them. Ideally, I’m searching for a formula where my idea of excellence can always be achieved.

Competitions are often geared towards young professionals. They’re tempted with prize money, but what they really need is business relationships. Prize money has a fixed value; business relationships can be priceless.

So imagine there is no prize money. Instead, all participants are compensated for their travel, accommodation and performance. Emphasis is placed on participants interacting with other participants. Those relationships are valuable and competitions should highlight that. Expenses are paid so that participants have an equal opportunity to take advantage of that.

Top prizewinners are offered the services of a booking agent who will organize performances and tours over the course of a year. Most likely, the prizewinners would tour as a unit. Let’s say the 2nd and 3rd prizewinners split a set, and the 1st prizewinner plays the entire second set. They would be compensated accordingly. It seems to me that this would be the most market-friendly way to organize performances.

Side Note: Variations on the prizes could include the services of a recording studio, teacher, photographer, videographer and/or a publicist.

Here’s the hook: The participants are also the judges. They will represent excellence. Prizewinners are voted for on a private ballot. No discussions! I don’t like the idea of judges discussing and trying to persuade other judges to be ‘more moved’ by a performance than they naturally are. Otherwise, excellence is at the mercy of a persuasive judge and there would be no point in having more than one!

What do you think? It’s a rough draft and may need some tweaking, but it’s a start!

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