Q+A with An Die Musik's owner Henry Wong

Q+A with An Die Musik's owner Henry Wong

A native of Hong Kong, Henry Wong has lived in the U.S. since attending high school at St. John's Preparatory School in Minnesota. He attended Penn State University as a Biology major, and worked in a neurology lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1990, his hobby took over, and he founded the trendsetting record store An die Musik in Towson. It was the first in the nation to sell CDs without the long cardboard boxes and the first to establish listening stations for any disc in the store, earning them such attention as an article in Newsweek Magazine. He also established partnerships with organizations that contracted him to sell CDs during their performance, including the BSO and Baltimore Opera Company, and in DC with the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley and many Embassies. In addition, he staged regular CD signings and live performances and refreshments in the retail store.

Reacting to changes in the retail music industry, he moved the business to Mt. Vernon in 1997, and added live music presentations under the moniker An Die Musik Live. The venue is an intimate listening room on the second floor of an historic Baltimore townhouse, located in the heart of the Mt. Vernon Cultural District. Voted several times as one of the top 100 jazz venues in the world by Downbeat Magazine, An die Musik Live has presented over 4,500 shows.

Long before the current pandemic, Wong has had to innovate and re-engineer the business in response to economic and social challenges, including increased competition by big box retailers, 9/11, music downloading, the housing market bust, and Baltimore's civil unrest. By always operating as part of the community—and in service to musicians—people have rallied around his efforts to remain a vibrant part of Baltimore's arts scene.

His latest innovation is adapting his business to live streaming concerts. He has relied on friends, consulted tech industry leaders, and recruited Peabody Institute sound engineering graduate students to create the model and continually improve it. But it's more than just a way to remain open for business—he encourages audience members to add donations to further help the artists. In addition, he has been consulted by other arts organizations who are navigating the same challenges.

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The Truth In This Art, hosted by Rob Lee, explores contemporary art and cultural preservation through candid conversations with artists, curators, and cultural leaders about their work, creative processes and the thinking that goes into their creativity. Rob also occasionally interviews creatives in other industries such as acting, music, and journalism. The Truth In This Art is a podcast for artists, art lovers and listeners interested in the creative process.

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Creators and Guests

Rob Lee
Rob Lee
The Truth In This Art is an interview series featuring artists, entrepreneurs and tastemakers in & around Baltimore.
Henry Wong
Henry Wong
owner at An die Musik Live!