Reddit, Read it? A Classical Music Community Emerges on Social News Site

Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 05:00 PM

What started as low-budget link-sharing website for tech-savvy young people has spawned a growing classical music community.

Reddit, the quirky online community that is also one of the largest websites in the world, has an abundant section – or “Subreddit” – of classical music. Within each Subreddit, users post links or comments that can then be voted “up” or “down” by other Reddit users. Through this process, users determine the content featured on the site’s homepage and Subreddits.

Now based in San Francisco, Reddit was founded by two recent graduates of the University of Virginia in 2005. The philosophy behind the site focuses on the ethos of its community, which numbers at about 20 million users a month. There are over 5,400 active Subreddits, some of which are standard categories ("books," "world news"), and others are slightly more unique, including "WTF" and "best of Craigslist."

While the most popular Subreddits, including “science” and “funny,” have a few million subscribers, the classical music forum, with nearly 38,500 subscribers, is one of the smaller pages. Even so, the site gives order to the sprawling universe of performance videos on YouTube. There are copious links to vintage performances by stars like Martha Argerich or Philip Glass as well as random discoveries; there's also a "piece of the week," presently Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

But the page goes beyond video sharing, opening forums for advice, opinions and humorous expertise. Currently at the top of the Subreddit is a comic manual, “In a classical music concert, when should I clap? A helpful guide…” Further down the page is “Looking for sad pieces with a fast tempo,” a seven-word query that creates a multitude of suggestions and links. And then there are posts that have little to do with classical music, like a featured photo of urinals constructed from baritone horns. Comments, which are generally earnest, have the tone of a devoted amateur rather than a connoisseur.

Reddit may also be a marketer's worst enemy: it is notoriously resistant to self-promotion because of its reliance on the community to choose its content through voting. Musician and avid "Redditor" Michael Koelling recently shared his “Seven Steps to Marketing Success on Reddit” on the tech news site Hypebot. "The number one rule is that you need to be a Redditor first, and a marketer second," he wrote. The last? "Remember that the point of Reddit is to have a discussion, not promote your band."

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