A member here has been a concert technician for Bosendorfer and years ago for Yamaha. He has oodles of experience, knows a number of concert artists personally, and has a very cool blog. I love the way he articulated the different facets of the "Artist Roster".
If you are a true pianogeek, it is a good read. This may generate a great thread, too.The Myth of Artist Endorsements
Posted by: JPB RX2
Re: Artist Endorsements - 08/10/12 05:29 AM
Am I right in thinking that this is largely a North American issue? Here in Europe, as far as I understand it, most major concert halls purchase their pianos, and therefore it is up to the venue who plays the piano.
Yes, some big manufacturers, rather like company 1 in the blog post, do have an extensive list of artists signed up with them, but there is no sense in which this is then because most of the major venues are closed to them without the cost of hiring in another piano. Thus, it feels like rather a less heated issue this side of the pond.
Posted by: bennevis
Re: Artist Endorsements - 08/10/12 09:51 AM
I can think of at least 3 pianists immediately who were (by default) 'Company 1 Artists' - until they became famous enough to demand (or at least, request) their favorite pianos at all the major venues they played in, and on all the recordings they made. But what I don't know is who foots the bill for the cost of hiring those instruments which aren't by Company 1 - almost certainly not the pianist himself/herself, but maybe Company 2, or the hall, or the festival management.
Yet....even when household names (in classical music circles that is), occasional compromises still have to be made in some places.
Posted by: j&j
Re: Artist Endorsements - 08/10/12 12:07 PM
Very interesting article. I'm not surprised but it's a little disappointing.
I don't know how typical my piano tastes and piano buying habits are, but I really don't care about which pianists play concert grands made by the same company that made my smaller, much more humble, and much less expensive piano. The company's care, precision, choice of materials may or may not trickle down to pianos sized and designed for amateurs, students, and home use. I know for a fact that my needs as someone that plays entirely for my own enjoyment and continued music studies (my own amusement - not a music degree) are entirely different than those of a professional concert pianist.
I did bookmark the article and Eric's website.
Posted by: Numerian
Re: Artist Endorsements - 08/11/12 06:48 PM
From what I hear from people who book concert pianists, and those who work in major concert halls, what is being described in The Myth of Artist Endorsements is pretty accurate. Using the terminology in the article, Company 1 is known to put intense pressure on any artist who has signed on to their roster but wishes to use some other manufacturer's piano. This is true even if the piano Company 1 has on offer is in less than adequate condition. This is the consequence of monopolistic behavior, as the author points out, and it makes it extremely difficult for any other manufacturer to break the monopoly. I always felt that this behavior constitutes restraint of trade if it were ever looked into seriously by the US Justice Department.
The only differences I have with the article is that I understand that concert halls are obliged to buy their pianos from Company 1, whereas the author says Company 1 owns the pianos and is only lending them to the concert venue. Even so, most halls buy only Company 1 concert grands, and they will still put pressure on artists who wish to deviate from using these pianos.
Second, Company 1 lately has been paying much closer attention to the quality of their instruments in concert halls. There is a roster of company-authorized technicians who are local and keep these pianos in top shape. Instruments are rotated out or refitted every few years with new hammers and strings (this may be done for free - which is where the idea arises that Company 1 still owns the piano). Consequently, in many concert halls there are some truly excellent instruments available to artists, and it should be added that artists not on the company roster can also use these instruments. Some credit therefore should be given to Company 1 for helping maintain high standards of pianos in concert halls, and this benefits not only their artists, but other artists as well as the audience.
Posted by: OperaTenor
Re: Artist Endorsements - 08/11/12 07:23 PM
I just linked it on Facebook. Awesome article!