The Marketing Of Performing Arts Cultural Studies Essay

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The need for marketing of traditional performing arts, i.e., classical music & classical dance, assumes a wider perspective and responsibility, in the present day context.

In the case of equally talented performing artists, the following important questions arise, while observing their marketing strategies, in relation to classical music and classical dance:

Why are few equally talented artists more famous than others?

Why few artists are more commercially successful than others?

Why it is that many a time, few artists are able to get more chances than others?

Why does the competition grow when youngsters or newcomers enter the field?

Why the organizations promoting classical music and classical dance, are repeating the same artists in their concerts and festivals?

Classical performing artists are facing constant pressures in their professions, due to various factors such as growing competition, the reduced market viability of classical arts, globalization & recession etc.

Arts organizations that are involved in promoting classical music and classical dance are struggling to arrive at an acceptable balance between profitability and sustenance, due to factors such as reduced sponsorships, waning audience interests in classical arts, a fall in membership etc. As a result, marketing, particularly in recent times, has assumed a greater role in the growth and development of classical performing artists and performing art institutions & organizations.

This facet of marketing can be theoretically as well as practically analyzed under the three aspects namely the economic, the social and the legal implications of marketing on classical performing arts.

For this purpose, the point of view of the performing artist (including art institutions) as well as the organizer is being observed, which can be viewed as follows:

II.1.1. Commercial Growth

Performing artists constantly aim for higher income levels, in order to satisfy both their hygienic needs as well as their social needs.1 Creativity requires financial security and motivation. As a result, classical performing artists in India are able to perceive the importance of marketing and public relations, in order to be able to obtain more opportunities and as a result, and to earn higher income from their profession.

Sources of income for a classical performing artist in India include:

Performance fee, also known as Remuneration, Honorarium, 'Sambhavana', 'Paritoshakam', etc.

Tuition fees, earned from private teaching of music and dance.

Salary from art related job, if the artist is employed in that capacity.

Salary from any other job, depending on the type of employment.

Royalties from sale of CDs, DVDs (both audio & video) and books.

Personal sale of CDs, DVDs, and books.

Fees from Telephone teaching (only music)

Fees from Online Teaching (Interactive and downloadable methods).

Fees for commissioned music composition works

Fees for recordings - All India Radio, Doordarshan, Private Radio Channels, Private TV Channels, Private Recordings, Recordings of Music Companies, Dance recordings etc.

Funding & Sponsorship from Patrons, Donors and Connoisseurs for musical projects, dance themes, special concerts and events undertaken by the artists and performing art institutions.

The following table gives information about the break up of income, for performing artists at Hyderabad & Secunderabad.

Table II.T1 showing break-up of full-time artists in comparison with artists who are into jobs


No. of Respondents

No. of respondents who are full time artists

No. of respondents who are into art related jobs













It is observed that out of the 100 classical artists taken up for analysis, 48% of musicians have responded that they are full time artists, while only 12% of dancers have responded that they are full time performers. Also 36% of the musicians have answered that they are into art related jobs, while 24% of dancers are into art related jobs.

Art related jobs include employment in:

Arts organizations

Music Colleges


Government Organizations


Table II.T2 showing sources of income of performing artists


No. of Respondents

No. of respondents who are earn from jobs

No. of respondents who earn from performances

No. of respondents who earn from teaching
















It can be observed that 50% of musicians are earning from their jobs, while 24% dancers derive income from their jobs. The percentage of musicians who earn from performances is almost the same as dancers - 70% and 72% respectively. 28% of respondents have replied that they earn from teaching. 8% of the respondents have mentioned that they earn occasionally from performances, and most of the other performances are either free or it has also been mentioned that some of these artists are not performing for the sake of commercial benefits. It can be observed that the source of income of dance artists is more from performances. These performances also include those performances, where the dance teacher is earning from the performance of the students. Around 90% of the musicians are professionals, but only 50% depend on art for their livelihood. Similarly, over 80% of the dancers and dance teachers have stated that art is their profession, but only 20% have mentioned that they depend on art for their livelihood. It is interesting to note, that many artists are pursuing jobs and other professions, without completing depending on art, for their livelihood.

II.1.2. Growing Competition

There is a growth rate of approximately 69.7% in the number of performing artists from the year 2003 to 2010.2 At the same time, there is only a 30.4% increase in the number of organizations hosting classical music and dance recitals.3 These figures do no represent the number of upcoming artists who are giving a stiff competition to the established artists in terms of procuring the maximum number of concerts during a peak season for concerts, or in a music & dance festival in India.

It can be observed that there is a considerable increase in the competition levels amongst artists who are vying with each other in order to get more performance opportunities. In this scenario, Marketing & public relations play a major role in the effective promotion of an artiste both in terms of the number of performances as well as the performance slot.

Over the past few decades, Classical art forms have taken newer dimensions in form and presentation. Aspects such as fusion, thematic presentations, 'Jugalbandi' etc have made inroads into the traditional performing arts concerts. As a result, the number of opportunities for pure classical recitals has comparatively been reduced by the arts organizations. Due to this, many classical artists agree that there is a serious need for marketing of a performing artist, in order to survive in the field.

II.1.3. Performance Opportunities

In recent times, there has been a considerable shift of audiences in terms of both the number as well as the type. Younger audiences are barely interested in attending classical recitals. It is only the older generation audiences who have somewhat maintained their loyalty towards classical art forms.

This has further reduced the number of concerts being hosted by organizations and as a result, has reduced the number of performance opportunities available for artists. Also, Audience preferences have been undergoing constant changes, when it comes to choosing the type of entertainment.

Technologies like Internet, digital media, electronic media such as Television, FM Radio etc have categorized the existing audiences into different classes.

Even the loyal groups who were previously adhering to classical arts have now moved on to the alternate groups. This in turn has led to several changes in the format of classical performances, such as:

Reduced duration concerts

Forced necessity to include fusion style, devotional style etc.

Reduced Remuneration

A conscious compromise on the quality of concert

II.1.4. Recession4

Due to situations like the economic global recession, performing arts get severely affected due to drastic changes in the personal spending habits of individuals as well as financial policy changes of both private as well as Government sponsors.

The number of opportunities for performing artists witnesses a steady decline due to factors such as recession.

This is because art becomes a least priority sector during difficult economic situations in the country. As a result, there is once again a stiff competition amongst the performing artists, in order to retain their existing market position.

Recession can bring about a drastic change in employment situation, in the art field too.

At times, multi-skilled employees who may get laid off in one particular field may try to look for alternate opportunities in other fields, including arts. In such a situation, full time artists face the risk of increased competition. Under such circumstances, marketing plays an important role.

II.1.5. Globalization

Globalization has increased the cultural integrities among nations across the world. Due to this, there is a considerable market expansion and growth in the number of opportunities for classical artists. Globalization also leads to increased income, for performing artists. Several organizations around the world have been patronizing Indian classical performing arts, which has received further attention due to the advent of the Internet. At the same time, there is a significant growth in the level of international competition for Indian artists.

This growth is in the form of both the increased awareness levels amongst musicians located in India, as well as the competition from performing artists and institutions who are located outside India (referred to NRI artists), who include immigrants and their offspring.

In such situations, marketing is a compulsive technique which has to be put into use by performing artists and performing art institutions.

II.1.6. Recognition

There is an increased global awareness for Indian classical music and dance. As a result, the worldwide opportunities for Indian classical artists have grown considerably, in the past 50 years. Indian artists now aim for international level fame and recognition. Recognition includes media attention, audience awareness, and growth in opportunities, higher income, awards, honors and felicitations.

For this purpose, marketing and networking is an important feature, which furthers the global level recognition and the number of chances, for a performing artist.

Also, awards and honors at the national and international levels can add considerably to the value of a performing artist. Apart from being talented, performing artists need to be well known, in order to be able achieve coveted awards and honors.

Table II.T3 showing break-up of artists who perform for fame, money and satisfaction


No. of Respondents

No. of respondents who perform for fame

No. of respondents who perform for monetary benefit

No. of respondents who perform for personal satisfaction
















Out of the 77% of musicians have responded that they perform for fame, 60% have responded that they perform for the purpose of monetary benefit; Out of the 83% of dancers who perform for fame, 48% responded that they perform for monetary benefit. Over 98% of the total respondents have answered that they perform more for the sake of personal satisfaction, in comparison to fame and money.

II.1.7. Holistic aspect of moral & social responsibilities

Performing art itself becomes a tool for marketing, especially for social causes. Socially responsible marketing through performing arts can prove to be beneficial to the immediate society as well as the nation. Historical evidences during the time of Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya also point to musicians, dancers and poets who always used to convey ethical values and important social messages which were passed on from the emperor, to his subjects. They used to sing odes of virtuous people, in a bid to educate the masses.

Classical performing arts contain aesthetic and moral values that can impart messages to all types of social causes. Several musicians and dancers have undertaken marketing of social causes, through their art form. A good example of this aspect would be, the renowned musician M.S.Subbalakshmi rendering the famous song 'Maitreem Bhajatam' heralding the cause of world peace, at the United Nations on the occasion of UN day in 1966.5

It also forms the moral responsibility of artists to be able to cultivate a healthy and value-oriented society, by creating good ideals and principles amongst the youth and the children.

II.1.8. Spread of knowledge & Sustaining rare art forms

India is a land of diversified cultures and innumerable art forms. Many of these ancient art forms have not been preserved and documented and as a result, have become extinct and unknown to the present generations.

There are several practitioners of classical art forms who have been putting constant efforts in trying to revive such ancient art forms. The theory of 'Karanas' in the 'Natya Shastra' was brought out into a vivid style of presentation called 'Bharata Nrityam' by the Bharatanatyam exponent Dr.Padma Subramanyam.6 'Vilasini Natyam' is an ancient dance form which was revived and brought forth to the common man by Kuchipudi dancer Dr.Swapna Sundari.7

Similarly there are many such art forms which have become long forgotten and are facing the danger of becoming extinct. Marketing can help in the retention and popularization of such rare art forms which symbolize the cultural heritage of India.

There is also a need for increasing the global level awareness of Indian classical arts, which can be undertaken and fulfilled through effective marketing techniques.

II.1.9. Government Policies

Changes in the government policies such as budgetary changes in the allocation of funds towards Art & Culture can affect the performing arts sector. Due to this, there may be either an increase or a decrease in the number of performances as well as other opportunities in the arts field. Either way, there is a constant need for performing artists & practitioners to market themselves, in order to be able to endure such policy amendments.

Also, whenever there is a change in the Government either at the state level or the central level, the performing arts scenario undergoes a drastic change. This is because the opportunities, grants, endowments etc provided to the performing arts' sector is solely based upon the discretion of the Government and the policies made thereto.

II.1.10. Protection for Intellectual Property

It is marketing that has been able to identify and categorize the real value of intellectual property, which is defined as the creative talents of performing artists. If there was no marketing, the concept of protection for intellectual property might have not gained significance. Marketing makes an artist famous and well known. As a result, the creative works of the artist assume great commercial and social value. Such valuable works become the intellectual property of the artist, whereby commercial, legal and social benefits accrue to the artist by way of compensation for such creativity. Marketing also helps identify the legal issues that possibly arise in classical art forms. Copyright protection for creative works and the Patenting new innovations which could be either in the form of the tangible artistic commodities or the intangible artistic experiments, are facilitated through effective utilization of marketing techniques.