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'Tis hoped that, when I finish my First Symphony, I might make it onto the Vienna Sunday Times Top Ten List, and beat that young upstart, Wolfgang Amadeus Thingummy, (actually been dead a few years, but never mind, the chart is still full of him)'.
Attr. to Ludwig Van Beethoven, circa 1799:
Just a little joke to lighten our mood!
Thankyou James for your explanation.
Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...
Heavens! Now he's linking the preponderance of lists, as he sees it, to the end of civilisation as we, or more likely he, knows it!
James, more lists, please.
I, for one, would like to see a list of the worse performances of Mahler on disc based on universal consensus.
Put that on your list of things to do, please.
It wasn´t me who linked lists to the end of civilisation, nor made any negative comment about Nielsen. If you want to have a go, at least get your facts right and pay me the courtesy of reading what I or others actually write.
What dubrob is describing is a phenomenon much discussed recently this side of the Atlantic following the retirement of Oprah Winfrey, a daytime TV talkshow hostess. I believe you folks in the UK haven’t had the pleasure. For years, all Oprah had to do was add a book to her lists of must-reads, or recommend a diet or type of food, and millions of Americans would baa their way to the shops to get it. Now she’s packed it in, these poor people are rudderless. For years critics have been decrying the fact that Oprah’s lists can make or break people and products.
In my view both James and dubrob have a point. Lists are harmless fun for most of us, a way of sowing seeds for discussion. If people take them as gospel that’s life, that’s people. The only time it affects me personally is when one of our local wine columnists puts one of my favourite cheapos on his 10-best for the week, and it disappears off the shelves.
Speaking of lists, did I dream it or did Gramophone and the competitive-magazine-we’re-not-supposed-to-mention simultaneously run lists of Great Conductors just recently? I saw Carlos Kleiber at the head of such a list the other day and thought, didn’t I just read this elsewhere? Or was I Brahms and Liszt?
James has just mentioned that you have asked a few questions about our relationship with Amazon and why we provide links to their shop on our CD lists so I thought I would try and explain our thinking on this one.
Reading your comments I get the feeling you believe the main motivation behind us producing lists is so they can be used as a revenue driver from commission paid to us by Amazon for CD sales. I would hope you would take our word for it when I assure you this is not the case.
At the start of this year we carried out a reader survey where we asked, amongst other things, where readers most often choose to buy their music. Over 80% of respondents said that Amazon was a retailer they use. As a result, when we were deciding which online retailer to link through to, Amazon was the obvious choice given that is the option used by most of our readers.
Now, to answer your questions directly. Amazon pay us commission of sales from customers who have come to them from the Gramophone website. This revenue is incredibly small however and is a side benefit rather than the principle motivation to us offering the service. Hopefully you do not begrudge us the ability to make a very modest amount of money when we offer our users a service we believe is helpful to as many of our users as possible (and, although we put links in wherever it seems relevant across the site, as James says, the list features to which you refer do not take the place of more in-depth articles – so there is plenty for every taste).
I hope that answers your questions and concerns and many thanks for your continued support of Gramophone.
Luca Da Re
Head of Marketing,
No, I don't think you're cracked, nor do I doubt your sincerity for a moment. But I do think you are making a mountain out of a molehill and worrying unnecessarily. If lists had the effects you attribute to them then, yes there would be a problem, but what kind of reader would think like this? No one, I suggest, who reads Gramophone or BBC Music magazine. Rather, they get a little light-hearted entertainment from reading someone's opinion, and judge it as such.
There are plenty of gullible people in the world and rather than worry about lists of classical music-related issues in intelligent journals, consider the effects on them of the daily poison spewed out by the likes of The Sun and Daily Mail. Now there's something to worry about if you want.
As for tagalie's point about Oprah (and over here, presumably, Richard and Judy) boosting sales through their lists, I see no harm. They might "make", but do they really "break"? On the contrary, I suspect: their lists encourage reading (or whatever) in those who would otherwise not do so. If an entry on a list led someone to hear (or read) something they would otherwise not, that's a plus not a minus. Decrying lists does not one jot to raise discrimination, has no effect whatsoever other than airing disgruntlement (if there is such and word), and reduces a little light-heartedness in an otherwise erudite publication.
This leads me to a rather tenuous link. I take the point about the Amazon link-up. If 80% of readers use it, it seems a reasonable service for Gramophone to provide. As this reader prefers the way Presto Classical LISTS available recordings, together with a LIST of awards where bestowed, he will continue to buy from them.
Luca Da Re,
Thank you very much for your clear and prompt response. You have clarified any doubts I had. I assure you that I take you at your word, and do not begrudge Gramophone anything if they are providing a service which most of Gramophone readers find helpful.
Please don´t stress yourself unnecessarily about my lack of irony, and I am only to happy to appear ridiculous in your eyes if it helps to ease your mind.
As for having no sense of humour, well that´s not for me to say, but there is nothing I find more fun nor puts a bigger smile on my face than digging holes, the deeper the better. Bare hands, knife and fork, nice new shiny shovel, oh I don´t mind, just let me dig. Don´t knock it until you give it a lash, you´d be amazed at what you find down here, mind you, I have yet to find a list, but there is always a first time.
Now everyone, leave the poor fellow alone and let him get on with the serious business of suggesting a new "Composer of the Fortnight". (He can't help being a mad axe-wielding maniac who doesn't like Maskarade.)
Maybe we all need to take a step back. I say that because I don't want to see people whose posts I admire and who are obviously knowledgeable and passionate about serious music, end up getting involved in an ugly argument and someone getting posts edited for being offensive.
I do honestly think that we are all listed out these days as Tagalie rightly said. It is a part of commercial and capitalist culture. You cannot open a quality serious weekend paper without seeing top ten soaps, top ten dramas, top ten films, top ten popular music albums, top tens jazz albums, top ten classical albums, top ten paperbacks, top ten hardbacks and so on...And lists reflect sales and promote further sales. The result is that we do end up being suspicious and sceptical of lists.
It is the people who often aren't on the list that bother me, as to why not?
Like I said, lists can be both inclusive and exclusive.
But maybe, as Vic said, we are arguing about trivia. I don't know.
To use a bad musical pun, we might in the long run be arguing about something major which turns out to be minor, or something minor which turns out to be major.
Still, we could be arguing about model railways (no judgement intended) and the design of the latest signal box...
Perhaps a list on the cover might even draw a novice in to buying the magazine and exploring serious music. If so, then worthwhile.
To sum up, we make intelligent points because we all care about something, we are besieged by a list culture, but I am not sure about how important it is. The irony is that all of us who have taken part in this debate probably do not need lists to help us listen.
Best wishes everyone
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