The pandemic changed the musical life a lot. Musicians, producers, agents, everybody had to adapt to new conditions. Pizzicato's Remy Franck had the opportunity to speak about the pandemic's effects on the Polish label Dux with their director Malgorzata Polanska.

Malgorzata Polanska (Dux)

How did the pandemic affect your recoding business? Did you make more or less recordings?
The pandemic had a huge impact on the lives of many people, probably it has affected everyone on our planet! Even for people my age (50 +) it was the first serious threat in their lives on such a scale. After all, my generation knows the war only from the stories of parents and grandparents. This is not only a problem of business life, its importance extends to all spheres of life. The changes in the production of recordings are not only quantitative, but mainly qualitative. It is obvious that at the beginning we were sitting at home, we didn’t meet in the office, we didn’t contact the outside world and we didn’t make recordings: it was like that from March 13 to July, but then the recordings started with double enthusiasm, because everyone was hungry for some kind of music and professional activity. But even for the production of recordings, the revenues, which are slowly growing year by year, dropped to the level of 2016 (the decrease was 32% compared to 2019).

Did the sanitary measures change your work?
Of course! First of all: the mask made me speak louder and clearer, and I still sound more and more like a man (yes, yes, « it’s me, the wife with a thick voice »). But to be honest – in all the years of my work I got used to very close relations with my artists – today both sides have to be careful and even a simple hug is paid for with hesitation. It is abnormal for me and… inconvenient.  We experienced specific difficulties personally during our trips to work in Hungary and Austria. It is true that we were not recommended for quarantine, but we had to do the tests and pay for them! And because of border control we have to travel longer…

Did you remark any changes on the consumer’s side? Did you increase or decrease physical CD sale on one side and sales via download or streaming on the other?
It is difficult to say what the result of the pandemic itself is and what the result of general, longer-term trends in our business is. For years, we have been seeing a decline in sales of the finished product, in favor of downloading files or listening to streaming. Whether the pandemic influenced this old tendency – hard to guess, but probably yes … On the other hand, many people have gained free time by working at home, remotely, and time is conducive to listening to music, indeed, it is even necessary to enjoy this type of art.
In general, the turnover decreased and we used state (ministerial) support.
The number of albums sold decreased by 75% compared to the previous year! But – fortunately – Dux does not live only from the sale of finished CDs, the proceeds to the company’s cash register also result from the sale of files (all recordings are made by us in the 96 kHz / 24 bit standard), rights to recordings, etc. etc. the only one of the branches of our activity – it has recorded an annual increase of approximately 30%.

You core market is Poland, but how much does the rest of the world count for you?
Yes, it is obvious that we operate on the Polish market, but external markets are very important to us. Not only for financial reasons – no, mainly for prestigious reasons: we have the ambition to be the Polish national label, presenting great Polish artists, composers and performers, but for this to make sense – it must be an international activity. What’s more, the sale of files for Dux is conducted by Naxos of America, which is why the revenues from this part of the export are very important for the company.

Did you feel more limited, encountering for example, problems with distribution, shipping etc.?
Yes, there were some logistical problems, but we had more difficulties with this unfortunate BREXIT (additional duties, transport companies got lost in the new regulations, etc. etc.).

Do you think that the pandemic will have a lasting effect?
Of course. But it is not known what kind of effect! Will it introduce the habit of listening to music on the Internet? Will it lead to a reduction or, on the contrary, an increase in the number of real concerts? Will it affect the opening of a new medium in the perception of music, or rather lead to the complete collapse of this type of music? Will it create new idols, more Internet ones? Will it not create anyone and only collapse into itself? There are a lot of questions, and I must admit that I do not know the answer to them. What’s worse – I don’t even know what this answers might be!

Did you see that due to less teaching and less masterclasses, the number of musicians could decrease in future?
I don’t think that less teaching and less masterclasses will have the greatest impact on the number of musicians in the future. Rather, the decline in the prestige of this profession causes it to become a feminized profession, and thus – less paid. Why is it like that? There is less and less people who love listening to classical music, so there is nobody to play for! And it has nothing to do with the pandemic, although maybe many musicians are actually victims of this plague (literally and figuratively).

Could you see any changes in the quality of the musicians’ artistry?
I had absolutely no impression that the level of the musicians had dropped. On the contrary – many of them, taking advantage of their free time, started to exercise properly and carefully. Out of a simple longing to play. Taking advantage of the extraordinary time, many decided to prepare the repertoire for recording. It is with such contractors that I come into contact with and I can evaluate them. And the rating is very high.
It is true that it seems obvious that the lack of personal meetings and consultations with the greatest Masters may have a negative impact on the artistic level of young performers, but maybe on the other hand it teaches them independence and responsibility for themselves ?? I know a great violin duo that won around 10 different online competitions during the pandemic.
Perhaps the main issue is the duration of such a « covid » state? Because everyone knows that the Master-Student relationship is the most important thing in art education, without it it’s impossible to educate a real artist!

  • Pizzicato

  • Archives