The young violinist Anna Rendl dared to embark on an adventure: she went freelance. Not as a musician, but rather with her own concert agency, Artphonia. She spoke with mdw Magazine about challenges and successful moments.

Anna Rendl
Anna Rendl has gone freelance with her own agency: Artphonia ©Andrej Grilc

The music industry is being transformed by digitisation’s huge challenges. And classical music is no exception—so right from the start, Anna Rendl was aware of just what a herculean undertaking it would be to build her own company and run it in the long term. “I deliberately gave myself a whole lot of time for my first few steps, and on a lot of things, I went to professionals for advice,” says the 28-year-old. “In the beginning, you encounter new organisational challenges at every corner—from your website to your tax declaration.” All that’s then joined by the fact that you immediately assume an immense responsibility toward the artists you represent. But one can’t succumb to intimidation, she says: you need to appear assured and show strength. “Nobody needs an insecure agent,” points out the young business founder.

Anna Rendl studied Instrumental and Voice Education (IGP) with a focus on violin. During her studies, she always worked on the side—including many years at the ticket office of Jeunesse, as well as other jobs that had nothing to do with music. This allowed Rendl to gather experience in the most diverse areas and pursue her varied interests—and as an agent, she can now combine all of that. She already finished her studies at the mdw in 2015, and she’s continued studying law—with many interruptions—“on the side”; finishing this degree remains one of her big goals. Will she have time to do that? “My days have, of course, gotten more intense and stressful, and my priorities have also shifted a lot over the past year,” says the Vienna native.

With her agency Artphonia, Anna Rendl represents young soloists and ensembles from Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Russia, and Ukraine. These also include students and graduates of the mdw, like Ensemble Ancor and the cellist Marie Spaemann. “I help to bring some structure to their careers and create a certain aura around them.” It’s is a long-term process that takes a lot of time and requires an individual way of approaching things. But precisely that is what Rendl likes most about her profession. It’s “unbelievably enriching in a human sense,” says Rendl, to work together closely with her artists: if the process of getting acquainted with one another leads to a fundamental sort of trust on both sides, and when it becomes clear that the two sides are stronger together, then it’s a wonderful moment.

Rendl tries to support her artists on their paths to success with a mixture of “old and new”. This means remaining true to the traditions of musical life and continuing down accustomed roads as well as opening up new avenues off the beaten path. “For many artists, it’s difficult to hold their own on the free market these days without a concept that’s particularly striking and individual,” explains Rendl. Due to her location, she began by working above all with artists from (and based in) Vienna, but by now, she’s receiving mail from almost everywhere. Every professional success is a great pleasure for her, of course, because each time, a little bit of insecurity is eliminated. “But you have to place every success, big or small, within an overall concept—and you can‘t hold on to any individual moment too hard or too long.” So Rendl is left with only little time to catch her breath. With her agency’s start-up phase now behind her, the next few years will be about getting established on the European level. But Anna Rendl has already proven her courage to find and consistently follow her own path.

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