“Can classical music survive in the music industry with popular music these days?”

If you compared the number of classical music views to pop music views on Youtube, what would the difference be? The highest number of views for classical music recording is the Budapest Strings’ performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with 243M views. By contrast, the highest number of views for popular music recording is Baby Shark Dance by Pinkfong with 10B views. This shows a tremendous difference between those two styles. 

Given the gap between the two different genres, it is clear which type the music industry prefers to record for profit. This makes you wonder if classical music still plays an important role in the recording industry today. 

The concert experience between the genres is also different. People can easily imagine screaming and jumping and standing during popular concerts, but it is hard to imagine that happening in classical concerts. The moods of the two are opposite of one another. 

Jumping, clapping, shouting, and making the audience cheer are normal behavior during popular concerts. However, Trey Graham, who is an assistant arts editor for the Washington Blade, wrote an op-ed article for the Washington Post after Jessye Norman’s concert about applause during the performance. He objected to the audience’s “noisily rustling the pages of their programs, coughing consumptively enough to do Violetta justice, even interrupting one song with applause before Miss Norman’s accompanist had struck the final chord.” Customarily, audiences at classical concerts applaud after the performance.

Moreover, while some people may like songs with lyrics, others prefer instrumentals. The popular music industry is changing quickly so musicians need to catch changing trends and try to follow them. Classical music could be changed by performers, but not the mood and base knowledge. And some people like electronic rather than classical sounds. 

Based on these facts, it is easy to suggest that classical music is having a hard time surviving in the music industry these days. However, a lot of musicians who make popular music are inspired by classical music and include some melody lines or chord progressions in their songs. For example, Maroon 5 uses the chord progression from Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D major, in their song Memories from California. And other well-known musicians frequently use the melody or chord progressions from classical music. 

It could be possible to suggest that the percentage of people who prefer classical music is decreasing, but in Asia, the number of people who are studying classical instruments has increased in the 21st century. During the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Lang Lang, a classical pianist with unique hair and eccentric fashion style, shot to international stardom. 

According to CNN, “he has inspired millions of children in China to take up the piano.” This phenomenon is called “The Lang Lang Effect.” His sensational performances and unexpected image broke the stereotype of classical musicians being boring and inflexible. 

Like Lang Lang, many pianists have tried to create special concerts and performances, sometimes calling one of the audience to come and play with them on the stage. This writer experienced that moment while attending a concert by Yiruma, who is the most influential composer and pianist in South Korea. It was an enjoyable concert and a lot of people knew his pieces very well. After the concert, many audience members wanted to buy a score from him, but they were sold out. 

Using different ways to break down boundaries and stereotypes between classical and popular music, these two genres are trying to merge with each other to deliver their music to the people. In the 21st century, classical music is as important as ever, it just disappears from people’s attention. Now, many performers are inspired by each genre and the result is better music-making and ultimately attracting an even larger audience in the music industry. 

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