Bringing classical music to the general public: how WildKat has got it right

Friday 13th June 2014

It would seem that state-funded arts organisations are having a bit of a rough time at the moment. Subsequent to Harriet Harman‘s discontent at the lack of inclusion by state-funded organisations, Andrew Mellor of the New Statesman has also weighed in on the argument. This time it is the lack of appropriate advertising which the likes of the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera– “Ads range from totally unfathomable[…]to the borderline conceited”- are suffering for. According to Mellor “What opera needs is a new audience intake, people who aren’t on the mailing list and don’t have the CDs at home”. This is an opinion which indisputably chimes with all types of music, and whilst classical music is, well, classic, it is getting increasingly difficult for this genre to compete with rugged-looking, curly-haired, blue-eyed boy bands and the curvy, feminist, female soloists which dominate the popular music charts and whose faces we see plastered across newspapers, television and the internet 24 hours a day . Without infiltrating everyday life and being more accessible, Mellor is right, opera and classical music will succumb to exclusivity as a result of “ineffectual” and “inappropriate” advertising.

WildKat PR places particular emphasis on promoting clients through mainstream press, as well as music press, in order to generate interest from the general public. An extremely innovative team enabled Cellist Alban Gerhardt to embark on an interactive radio tour in summer 2010. He was the first classical musician to tour national mainstream radio stations, where listeners could phone in and suggest unusual places for Gerhardt to perform Bach Cello Suites. Eventual performance venues therefore included a protest rally, a student house, a supermarket isle, and even a maternity ward, to but name a few. As a result, there bloomed national and international press coverage, both in print and on television and videos of his tour went viral.

Another huge success was the launch of the “Classical Takeover” in 2012. WildKat was keen to bring the work of composer Max Richter to the attention of the general public. His work Recomposed: The Four Seasons has divided audiences and the industry but hit Number 1 in iTunes UK over the weekend after the Takeover. The idea was to approach stores and venues which could be ‘taken over’; in other words, the venue would donate a stereo, on which a movement of Richter’s ‘recomposition’ could be played. Several high profile venues took part including Hoss Intropia, and a Spanish boutique brand on Regent Street who even created and styled four outfits for each of the Four Seasons. The Takeover was launched at London Fashion Week when the finale of the Jonathan Saunders show was taken over by the Spring movement and ended with Takeovers of Apple stores in London and New York.

Finally, a true testimony to the power of mainstream advertising is in the case of violinist Daniel Hope. Hope was booked onto BBC Breakfast, which draws a daily audience of 1.5 million, in July 2013 to promote his album Spheres. By the next morning, Hope had rocketed to no.1 on iTunes UK and was also top ten in the classical music charts. WildKat had placed Hope in view of an inquisitive general public and had, once again, generated intense mainstream interest in a classical artist.

The way in which WildKat PR utilises the mainstream press is one of the things which makes us so unique. A team capable of thinking outside of the box (a box which classical music seems to be beating its arms and legs against with all its might) enables the general public to access classical music and to express an interest. Mellor is right, opera and classical music should not be something directed at the people who “are already on the mailing list”; instead more should be done to imagine creative ways in which to make it appeal to the general public. WildKat has been utilising the mainstream press creatively ever since it began in 2007 and continues to do so. Whilst the industry keeps TALKING about it, WildKat is busy DOING it. So perhaps others in the industry need to take a leaf out of our book: let’s bring classical music to people in a way that doesn’t scream “CLASSICAL MUSIC AND OPERA IS BORING AND OUTDATED AND ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WENT TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS” and perhaps Harriet Harman may be faced with an audience of a slightly different demographic the next time she goes to the Opera.


Opera Anna Nicole premieres at London’s Royal Opera House