Joshua Bell is a world-class, classical violinist. He plays for sold-out concert halls around the world. He literally brings in $1,000/minute. He is a modern-day musical genius.
In 2007, The Washington Post conducted a little experiment. They got Joshua to perform at a Washington D.C. subway station, on an antique violin worth over 3 million dollars. The plan? To see if the passersby would stop to watch and listen to one of the world’s greatest musicians playing some of the most timeless classical tunes the world has ever heard on one of the most expensive instruments ever .
Almost 1,100 people passed by him as he stood by the door with a violin case open for change. Dressed like a regular dude, he played. And played. And played. For about 45 minutes. Guess how many people stopped? Seven (for about a minute each). His total take? 32 bucks.
Can you imagine that? Did these people not know genius when they heard it? Did the people who threw in a buck know (or care) that the “cheap seats” for his concerts are in the $100 range? And here they are, with access to Bell that would make front-row seats as the L.A. Symphony look like nose bleed seats.
So what’s the lesson? For whom are you playing your violin? If you’re charging the most in your market but aren’t getting any takers, is it possible you’re a Joshua Bell playing for the D.C. metro when you should be at Carnegie Hall?