While it's not the conventional path of a classical musician, the social media strategy is paying off. For the next year, Forde is booked solid. He'll perform two professional solo debuts, the first with the National Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, and later at Spivey Hall in Georgia. Then he's off for a month touring with the Sphinx Virtuosi -- an orchestra comprised of 18 of the best Black and Latino classical soloists in the country. In the new year, he'll tour for five months with Lincoln Center Stage on a cruise ship, before taking off to Japan to film a music series with a fellow YouTuber.
Until then, his days play out like handful of transistors alternating between frequencies: Performance, audition, practice when his roommates are out, YouTube. His channel is continuing to grow as Forde branches into covers and personal vlogs; what keeps fans coming back is Forde himself. His passion for music, and his enthusiasm for and vulnerability with his audience has created an intimate relationship between creator and viewer. By rooting for Forde to succeed, followers invest themselves in the classical music world. This, Forde believes, is what will save the flailing genre.
"The reason why classical music is failing is not because classical music is terrible, it's because classical music is failing at storytelling," Forde concludes. "I want to be a classical music storyteller and I want to be a liaison that personalizes and empowers people to take ownership of classical music. Because music is the reason why we live; what we do as artists is what makes your 9-to-5 worth living."
But where does it all lead? After all, classical musicians perform -- many social media personalities seek brand support, movie deals, influencer appearance fees, none of which fit the image of a violist dressed in formal wear, playing Chopin.
Forde is still formulating his magnum opus. He currently has his sights set on reaching one million YouTube subscribers, and eventually using this social media influence to open a content creation agency that will provide resources for aspiring musicians. “I want to teach musicians lessons not taught in schools,” Forde says. “We would have a studio space where musicians can come in, produce their own college audition tapes, their summer audition tapes, content for social media. We will not only shoot and edit all this content for them, we will also advise them on how to share it. You have an album release coming and need some promo photos and videos for your singles? Come and we’ll do that for you. We would be a one stop shop for musicians, especially classical musicians, on how to market themselves and their music.”
If the problem with classical music is a marketing one, then Forde's strategy could pay off big. For now, he's still putting in the work, practicing, and hoping he can pick up followers along the way.