In his presentation of the ICMA Awards 2016 in San Sebastian, President Remy Franck said, the ICMA prices were showing « our determination to get something special, a carefully structured list of outstanding recordings and outstanding artists. » He underlined that the jury faces « a constantly changing environment. »

« There is a deluge of audio and video discs coming from a totally revolutionized market situation.

The number of independent labels has grown tremendously. And these labels have to be split up in two categories, labels that are independent and basically commercial, and labels owned by artists and orchestras.

Indeed, a growing number of orchestras have created their own house label and continuously publish live concert recordings on CD or by download. We have two such labels among our winners.

Why do orchestras and artists choose to have their own label? Because, by doing so, they have and keep full control of the entire process and do not have to deal with intermediate structures that would in any case cost money.

The vast majority of commercial CDs are anyway funded by the musicians and not by their labels. Most of the CD’s available wouldn’t exist if the artist hadn’t paid for the recording. Recent evolutions show that, ahead of such a production and investment, artists try to get sponsorship or even start crowdfunding to get the necessary money for their production.

At the same time, with the CDs being funded by the musicians, there is no longer any serious Artists and Repertoire politics which could filter good from bad, attractive from unnecessary productions. And we must also be aware that many of the labels releasing classical CDs have not enough resources to promote them.

Hence, concurrence has become a major characteristic of the worldwide music market.

Success is no longer depending only on quality, but also on marketing. The work of PR people may have dramatic consequences, especially when it reaches journalists of the generalist press who do not necessarily have the knowledge to separate the wheat from the chaff.

That’s one major reason why some names are so familiar, and, according to the snowball effect, get more known all the time.

As a consequence, the music world suffers from both, non-expert music journalism and a focus on a limited number of PR-made ‘stars’.

Far too often however, the best known musicians are not the best ones, they just happen do have the best and most powerful PR officers, working in closely linked networks of agents, record companies, intendants promoters and sponsors, networks where the only admitted raison d’être is money.

So, we need not to worry about those people, they don’t need any promotion and we just can deplore that they withdraw sponsoring budgets and a lot of opportunities from all those who are not part of those networks. However we are determined to give our support to those outstanding musicians who really deserve it. That’s our role, our mission. »

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