50 Words for Classical Music Marketers to Rest

An Age of Puffery

Adam Sherk has statistically catalogued The Most Overused Buzzwords in Marketing and Press Releases. Gregory Sandow has satirized the language of classical music press releases, saying he hopes they die. And the anonymous blog Proper Discord has laid out 10 Cliches of Classical Music Journalism. Why do I find these columns delicious? Perhaps because they sting when I recognize my sins in them.

A Corpus of Corpses

We orchestra marketers have amassed an impressive number of words that no longer mean anything to our audience. We lean toward classical-music jargon, huckstering, and synonyms for perfection which we strangle with overuse. Or we write “magisterial” and other words that we’d never use in spontaneous conversation. May these 50 words and phrases rest in peace.

  1. Amazing
  2. Ambassador [such as "ambassador of the flugelhorn"]
  3. Artistry
  4. Award-winning
  5. Back by popular demand
  6. Beloved
  7. Collaborated with [rather than accompanied]
  8. Critical acclaim
  9. Culminating
  10. Debut
  11. Definitive
  12. Distinguished
  13. Don’t miss / You won’t want to miss
  14. Extraordinary
  15. Favorites
  16. Feature
  17. Flawless
  18. Has emerged
  19. Heartwarming
  20. Holiday tradition
  21. Icon
  22. Immortal
  23. Impeccable
  24. Inimitable
  25. Inspiring
  26. Lead [rather than conduct]
  27. Legend
  28. Magical
  29. Magisterial
  30. Masterpiece/masterwork
  31. Orchestral journey
  32. Phenom / Phenomenal
  33. Powerful
  34. Rarely-performed
  35. Rave review
  36. Rising star
  37. Season finale
  38. Soaring
  39. Soulful
  40. Spectacular
  41. Stellar
  42. Stunning
  43. Timeless
  44. Tribute
  45. Triumphant
  46. Unique
  47. Wistful
  48. World-class or world’s finest
  49. Wowed
  50. Wunderkind

What words would you add?

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12 Responses to 50 Words for Classical Music Marketers to Rest

  1. PM says:

    Interesting list! I’m curious how you feel about newspaper/review quotes in a press release or bio? (I know some people avoid it at all cost, some always include it.) Also, what do you do if one of these words/phrases is perhaps a direct quote?

    • Bruce Robinson says:

      Petronel, I could easily imagine ten of them in an advancer for you. And why wouldn’t you want to quote the truth?

      Don’t miss the triumphant return of the distinguished Malan, whose extraordinary artistry and inimitable style have been timeless tributes to rarely-performed masterpieces.


  2. Pretty much any adjective… especially in press releases.

    But I’d definitely have to add: renowned.

    • Maria Jette says:

      Worse, the “-ed” is vanishing here in the USA. At first I thought I’d seen a typo; then I kept seeing the same “typo”; and now I realize that while I was once (in the minds of a few marketing people) a “world-renowned soprano,” I am now a “world-renown soprano.”

  3. And to respond to the first comment: I would definitely shy away from using review quotes in press releases and bios. I always thought it was weird sending a press release with a quote from a rival paper… or even sending a press release with a quote from the journalist you’re trying to pitch…

    You can have an acclaim sheet, if you must.

    I think it’s less of an issue with marketing materials.

    Would be interesting to survey journalists what they think of those quotes. And survey what impact they have on marketing materials…

  4. R says:

    Fair enough. But is there anything about the direction we SHOULD be going in? How do we get out of the cliches? Is it taking words and ideas from retail/consumer marketing we see in the mainstream space? To me, the issue seems to be that we need to distinguish ourselves from what we see in the pop culture space (since we are a smaller, distinctive market), and also speak to those who know who we are without dumbing it down for them. It’s definitely a challenge.

    • Bruce Robinson says:

      I agree it’s a challenge. Yet you write with elegance and originality. And the Global Language Monitor says we have 1,006,261 other words available.

      Just yesterday I suggested that in writing single-ticket ads we reflect audience motivations as seen in market research. In taking my own advice I’ve found I tend to overuse other words. To expiate my own transgressions I offer them up:

    • Connect
      And, of course, my favorite word of all: Subscribe