Double bassist Tyler Bakken sent me a link to this story about the Houston Symphony’s newest PR idea–trading cards! Kurt Johnson, the violinist mentioned in the following quote, is an old acquaintance of mine. We both attended Northwestern University and played in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago masters degree fellowship program in the late nineties:
As a kid and a baseball fan, Kurt Johnson cherished his Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire rookie cards.
But even back in his Little League days, Johnson knew his skills on the diamond were not his ticket to trading-card fame.
Good thing for the musical talent: It turns out his violin virtuosity earned him a trading card of his own. Johnson, 30, is one of the players featured in the first batch of official trading cards of the Houston Symphony.
“It was a real prize,” said Johnson, a member of the symphony’s first violin section. “All of a sudden they were in my mailbox.”
The cards that arrived in Johnson’s mail were part of a batch of 33 trading cards introduced as part of a promotion this summer at the symphony’s outdoor concerts, said Bruce Robinson, the orchestra’s senior director of marketing. During the season, they will be available by request at concerts.
Like baseball cards, the goal of the symphony cards is to introduce the players to the fans, or audience members as they are called in halls that serve neither hot dogs nor Cracker Jack.
Read the complete story here.
After ruminating on this idea for a few moments, I started to think that this is a brilliant idea. Honestly–what a cool way to let people know about musicians! The novelty and kitsch factors alone ensure that audience members will look at these, take them home, keep them around and probably show them to their friends.
Then I began to wonder….what would my trading card would look like? How would orchestral freelancer trading cards look like? Perhaps a haggard, sleep-deprived, defeated-by-life photo,with statistics like:
- average per-service wage
- miles driven yearly
- average mileage compensation (“hey, this guy gets 6 cents a mile!”)
- number of auditions taken yearly
- number of times reduced off of ballet/orchestra/opera company roster
After some pondering, I finally figured out my trading card. Feel free to pass it around to your friends!