The Millennials’ Orchestra: Millennial Generation Audiences & Donors (cont.)

As a continuation of my last blog post Millennial Generation Audiences & Donors, I’m staying on the subject of technology and leveraging technology to help connect with next gen orchestra patrons.  I also begin to explore the idea of creating an orchestra concert experience and thoughts around the potential for engaging Millennials.

* * *

From a finance perspective, Stanford Professor Emeritus in Economics Robert Flanagan is wary of technology’s impact on live orchestra performance.147 Although radio and Internet have increased distribution and consumption of music, he worries that these channels have also diverted audiences and revenue away from traditional, live concert experiences.148 Nonprofit arts researcher Alan Brown acknowledges the influence of radio and other music production technologies on the public’s musical tastes, but instead sees radio as a way to broaden people’s tastes to include classical music and contemporary works by symphony orchestras.149 Brown advises broadcasters to loosen the musical boundaries around classical music and encourage listeners to experience newer works. This, in turn, may foster greater acceptance of contemporary works performed live in the concert hall.150

Engaging Millennials in Multisensory Orchestra Concert Experiences

Some symphony orchestras have already begun to explore innovative audio-visubso_WestwaterKCC_gridal performance opportunities, such as Westwater’s Symphonic Photochoreography. Founder James Westwater describes, “Symphonic photochoreography is an innovative art form that engages audiences worldwide with evocative, multi-image photographic essays choreographed and performed live to selected works of classical music.” The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has engaged in Westwater’s “Kids, Cameras and Classics™” series (image right), a program designed to promote community involvement.151

Finding common ground with community members is important, not only for making connections, but also raising awareness about the work and impact of arts organizations in society.  I think alternative orchestra concerts provide a forum that enable this to happen.152  It is not just music; it is a concert experience – a shared concert experience that becomes a story that audiences want to share with their family and friends.153 Concerts that stimulate both the visual and audio senses can be an especially effective means of engaging Millennial audiences and providing desirable symphony orchestra experiences.154

With innovative partnerships, dynamic multimedia, and exciting, multi-sensory audience experiences beginning to take hold, I encourage symphony orchestras to continue thinking outside of the traditional performance mindset, to push their creative boundaries, and connect with their audiences in a variety of ways that are relevant and interesting to them.155 Knowing your audiences takes time and stems from the development of strong relationships. With audiovisual performances, and other engaging classical music experiences to facilitate social  interaction with enthusiastic and innovative arts organizations, symphony orchestras have much to look forward to with the evolution of technology.156

This is a personal blog. “The Millennials’ Orchestra” posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported on as part of my graduate capstone project over 2012-2013. Resources are listed below.

147 Robert J Flanagan, “The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras.”
148 Ibid.
149 Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study.”
150 Ibid.
151 James Westwater, “Community Involvemebt: Westwater Arts Photochoreography,” westwaterarts.com/involve.html.
152 Catherine Starek, “‘SEE’ the Power of Music for Audience Development!,” originally posted as a guest blogger for Audience Development Specialists, 2013, mezzaphonicallyspeaking.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/3217/.
153 Ibid.
154 Ibid.
155 Ibid.
156 Ibid.

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The Millennials’ Orchestra: Millennial Generation Audiences & Donors

Social media, the Internet, and mobile technology are considered to be key to connecting, interacting, and building relationships between Millennials and arts organizations. Read more of my research on engaging Millennial generation audiences and donors in my latest blog post. Continue reading

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Competing for Attention

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Competing for Attention

Orchestras and New Media, a report by arts marketer Marc van Bree, discusses the rapid
evolution of technology in contemporary society and the implications for Millennial engagement with symphony orchestras.122 From company brands and magazines to radio, TV, and websites, 21st century populations are exposed to a great complexity media with ever-increasing frequency.123 Contrary to the idea that Millennials are using and communicating through technology in place of one-on-one interaction, instead Millennials use technology and new media channels to enhance their social experiences.124 Social media networks are inherently interactive and can become powerful marketing and engagement tools for attracting this “always connected generation”125 to the work of symphony orchestras.126 As the graph illustrates below, the likelihood of online engagement with Millennial audiences is considerably greater when compared to audiences from older age cohorts.127

Audience Insight LLC, Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study:

Audience Insight - Electronic Media by Age CohortNote: The electronic media measurement of participation in those activities includes all dance, and not just ballet. Visual arts participation includes those who either observed programs about artworks, artists, or museums through electronic media and/or who viewed artworks online.128

122 Marc van Bree, “Orchestras and New Media: A Complete Guide,” 56, 2009.
123 Ibid.
124 Ibid.
125 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
126 Ibid.
127 Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study.”
128 Ibid.

*  *  *

With so much competition for our attention with mobile devices, social media, and online entertainment and information, orchestras are smartly starting to incorporate these tools and channels into the way they communicate and engage with their audiences.  As a continuation of this discussion, my next blog post will focus on inter-connectivity of Millennials through technology and new media channels and how some nonprofit arts organizations, orchestras included, are integrating these modes of communication and interaction into their practices and performances.

Have you interacted with an orchestra that encouraged the use of mobile apps or social media?  What was your experience?

You’ve Cott Mail: Some thoughts on how to connect Millennials with classical music

In the May 1st, 2014 edition of You’ve Cott Mail, the topic of conversation was how to connect Millennials with Classical Music.  Copied below are some of the thoughts shared around this topic.  In what’s to come, some of the key factors in engaging Millennials emerge – the importance of trust and social consciousness, consideration of themed programming and relaxed atmosphere in entertainment, and breaking convention through social technology.  These examples, of course, could never speak for an entire generation and (heads up) they certainly shouldn’t reduce Millennials down to whiny, pot-smoking, sex-crazed social media users in our minds’ eye.  I think these authors are simply pointing out that each generation has different interests and expectations that require different kinds of attention.  It is also important for long-standing art forms and those who run our cultural institutions to remain open to change and be welcoming to all generations through their outward approach and community involvement, organizational innovation and programmatic offerings, and social atmosphere.

Would you agree/disagree?  What are your thoughts on how to connect Millennials with Classical Music? I’d love to hear from you.

*     *     *

You’ve Cott Mail: Some thoughts on how to connect Millennials with classical music
May 1, 2014

COMMENTARY: To attract millennials, be more socially conscious
Cellist/composer Peter Sachon on his blog, 4/8/14

Orchestras need to offer compelling reasons for millennials to make live symphonic music a part of their lives.  After all, millennials are the largest generation in human history, and at nearly 90 million people they will very soon make up the vast majority of our orchestras’ stakeholders, constituents, audience, staff members and supporters – and instrumentalists.  By 2017, they will surpass the buying power of the baby boomer generation.  There is simply no generation in the next forty years that will have the size and potential purchasing power to influence American orchestras more than millennials.  While orchestras aren’t the only institutions that have abandoned the young, they can still be among the first to reclaim them — and in so doing they can begin to reclaim the position of live orchestral music in American culture. These millennials have very different expectations for nonprofits than baby boomers.  Their expectations that nonprofits be socially conscious institutions goes beyond what is traditionally expected, especially from performing arts organizations.  Being able to trust a nonprofit organization and its mission is very important to compelling millennials to attend and donate.  One telling statistic is that nine out of ten millennials would stop giving to an organization that had lost their trust.  American classical institutions’ stoic reactions to human rights abuses is making that trust difficult to develop.  For example, when Pussy Riot was sentenced to two years in a labor camp for a peaceful political protest, many of those 90 million American millennials along with people like Madonna, Sting, Yoko Ono, Björk, Moby, Peter Gabriel, and more than a dozen international papers as well as the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Yorker Magazine all publicly supported Pussy Riot’s human right to peaceful protest.  And yet, even after so many people across a range of musical and intellectual disciplines voiced their support, not one American orchestra dared even a tweet. Things were no different after Russia enacted Putin’s outrageous anti-gay law.  The Metropolitan Opera attempted to be detached from the controversy while protesters pointed out that two of Putin’s most visible supporters led the Met’s season-opening production.  The famed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, refuses to speak out against Maduro’s government, even after students were beaten and arrested during his concertizing in Venezuela. Orchestras can play at being apolitical, but their choices have political resonance whether they like it or not.  Given how important trust is to millennials’ interactions with nonprofits, the idea that institutions should refrain from voicing widely-held human rights positions is silly and counter-productive.  The worry of upsetting existing donors pales in comparison to the danger posed to orchestras who undervalue the changes brought by the millennial generation. It also doesn’t hurt that speaking out against human rights abuses is the right thing to do.

Connecting classical music to millennials with bring-your-own-marijuana concerts
Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Denver Post, 4/29/14

The cultural revolution that is making marijuana part of everyday Denver life conquered another established front Tuesday as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra announced a series of performances sponsored by the cannabis industry. The concerts, organized by pro-pot promoter Edible Events, will start May 23 with three bring-your-own marijuana events at the Space Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe arts district and culminate with a large, outdoor performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Sept. 13. The events are being billed as fundraisers for the CSO, which will curate a themed program of classical music for each show. While acknowledging that the arrangement is unusual, even groundbreaking, CSO executive director Jerry Kern said the concerts will help the orchestra reach beyond its conservative, fine arts demographic while raising money for an organization that has struggled financially in recent years. “We see ourselves as connecting classical music with all of Colorado,” said Kern. “Part of our goal is to bring in a younger audience and a more diverse audience, and I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra.”  The connection between classical music and marijuana culture is surprising on its surface. But the partnership may be logical for the CSO in particular, which has worked hard in recent years to present a more democratic lineup. It still has its Beethoven and Brahms concerts, where cellists dress in tuxedos and tradition rules, but it has been playing more contemporary music and collaborating on concerts with pop acts. Orchestra musicians are already set to play Red Rocks shows Aug. 8 and 9 with Pretty Lights, one of the biggest acts in electronic dance music, a genre widely associated with marijuana and harder substances like Ecstasy.  As trumpet player Justin Bartels points out, the musicians have already smelled the waft of marijuana smoke at shows, and playing before mind-altered audiences won’t be shocking. “Denver is a different kind of city, and you have to program your orchestra for the community you’re in,” he said.

COMMENTARY:
To attract millennials, dancers twerk to classical music
Joel Eastwood, Toronto Star, 4/23/14

You rarely use the words “twerking” and “classical music” in the same sentence. But that’s the only way to describe a controversial new music video that fuses a piece of classical music with a gyrating, scantily clad Korean dance troupe. The eye-popping video was masterminded by a Belgian classical music festival in a bid to bring a century-old symphony to new ears. It seems to have worked — the clip has racked up more than 1.7 million views in the past week. “It is indeed a very different clip than your average YouTube clip,” explained Frank Peters, a Dutch classical pianist and the spokesperson for the B-Classic music festival, in a short documentary accompanying the music video. “I’m not convinced that youth are uninterested in classical music. I think that it’s simply more difficult for them to discover,” said Sam De Bruyn, a radio DJ in Brussels. Because YouTube has become an essential engine for discovering and listening to music, an engaging music video is essential to grabbing people’s attention, De Bruyn said. So the B-Classic music festival commissioned director Raf Reyntjens to make the video with Korean pop-dance group Waveya, who are YouTube stars in their own right. Unlike the pop songs they normally move to, the dancers are twerking to Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, composed in 1893. Dvorak, who lived from 1841 to 1904, was a rock star in his day. “Everywhere he went, something happened, the atmosphere changed, and people were enraptured and moved by his music,” Peters said. The video tries to reignite that popularity with a new generation. But not everyone thinks classical twerking is an appropriate combination. “It comes across as hollow and trashy,” writes Michael Vincent on the classical music blog Musical Toronto. Other commenters argue classical music doesn’t need to resort to modern dance moves to stay relevant. “The two just don’t connect for me and, to be honest, it feels somewhat embarrassing,” writes Clyde Smith on Hypebot.  Regardless, the critics might be in for more disappointing videos — B-Classic is calling on people to create their own Classical Comeback videos “to give classical music the audience it deserves.”

The Millennials’ Orchestra: From The Millennial’s Perspective

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate Capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.


The Millennials’ Orchestra: From The Millennial’s Perspective

Symphony orchestra concerts – Where are the Millennials?  Why aren’t they in our audiences?  What are they interested in and what would excite them to attend classical orchestra concerts?

So many orchestra managers have lost sleep over these types of questions – including myself.  As a Millennial and self proclaimed orchestra-lover, I knew there had to be others out there like me who love the art form, but perhaps they chose to participate in symphonic music in different ways than in the traditional sense of attending a concert… With these questions and more, I set out on a mission for answers.  From there, my graduate research survey was born.

Through this survey, I was able to gain valuable insight into the current public sentiment around classical music and symphony orchestra performance in the 21st century and across the U.S.[1]  The survey was distributed on social media networks  – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress – which may account for the lack of responses from the two oldest generations.[2] Within ten days, however, 110 people had voluntarily participated in the survey.[3] Out of those 110 respondents, 62 had identified themselves as Millennials.[4]  (Here’s where it gets really interesting!)

Millennials Speak Out:

What in your opinion are the biggest challenges facing symphony orchestras, especially when it comes to engaging younger audiences in live performance?

    1. Approximately 60% of Millennial survey participants selected “lack of interest”[5] as their response. When answers such as, “all of the above” or “combination of expense and lack of interest” are also included, that figure increased by nearly three percentage points (to 62.9%).  Across all survey participants, however, “lack of interest” was clearly the outlier (45% selected this answer).[6]
    2. The second most prevalent answer among Millennials was “concert experience” (10 out of 62, or ~16%).[7]

Contrary to common belief, “expense” is not the biggest concern for Millennials when it comes to orchestra concerts.  Albeit it’s still an important and influential factor, only 6 out of 62, or ~9.7% of Millennial survey takers[8] selected this as their answer.  It appears that Millennials place greater value on relevance and appeal when making the decision to attend a symphony orchestra concert.

So where are the audiences? The young people?
Thought-Leaders Share Their Opinions:

Greg Sandow, author of The Future of Classical Music ArtsJournal blog, believes that the concert experience is at the heart of the lack of Millennials in attendance at classical symphony orchestra concerts.[9]  Other limiting factors face U.S. symphony orchestras. With increasing reliance on social and handheld technology in our modern society, Engaging Art contributing authors highlight how the interests and expectations of contemporary audiences have changed, as well as the nature of arts participation.[10] Dan Laughey, author of Music & Youth Culture, emphasizes the connection of “youth culture” [11] to the energetic, social atmosphere of music clubs and other pop culture environments.[12]  Mark Shugoll, of Shugoll Research outside of Washington, D.C., suggests that aligning program offerings with such inclinations can help arts organizations become more relevant and appealing to the elusive Millennial generation patrons.[13]

What do you think, readers?: 

What is the key to symphony orchestra appeal in the eyes of our Millennial populations?

What do you think it will take for symphony orchestras in the U.S. to inspire recurring attendance among these coveted audiences?


[1] Catherine Starek, “Graduate Research Survey 2013 – Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance,” Google Form, 2013.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Greg Sandow, (ArtsJournal blogger), interview by Catherine Starek.
[10] Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey, 2008, Engaging Art.
[11] Dan Laughey, Music & Youth Culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 2006.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Mark Shugoll, “BSO’s Symphony with a Twist,” interview by Catherine Starek, 2013.

Millennial Classical Musicians: A Who’s Who of Rising Classical Stars (Part 1)

By Catherine StarekClassical Music Contributor, Gen Y Hub’s Millennial Magazine

Classical music…it’s stuffy, boring, and something that only old people enjoy, right? I beg to differ (and I’ll prove it to you)! While the term “classical” may be misleading, classical music is actually a very exciting, inspiring, and powerful musical genre. Millennial musicians are not only embracing the past, they are also shaping the future of classical music performance and putting a fresh twist on what it means to be a classical musician. As a fellow Millennial and modern classical musician, I am happy to shine a growing spotlight on a hand-selected list of young classical superstars. Stay tuned throughout the Millennial Classical Musicians mini-series to get the scoop on all eight of these fantastic modern musicians.

• Jourdan Urbach –
21, violin
• Nicola Benedetti – 25, violin
• Alisa Weilerstein – 30, cello
• Nadia Sirota – 30, viola
• Gustavo Dudamel – 31 32, baton
• Lang Lang – 31, piano
• Hilary Hanh – 31, violin
• Cameron Carpenter – 32, organ

Classical Context
When talking about classical music, however – an era of music that emerged around 1750 – it’s difficult to keep history out of the conversation. Don’t worry though, I promise to keep it brief! The classical music era extends from the mid-18th to the early-19th centuries (c. 1750 – c. 1830).[1] This era is often associated with the works of Beethoven and Mozart, two of the most well known and respected classical musicians and composers in the world.

Modern Classical Musicians
Fast-forward to the 21st century and classical music is still widely heard, appreciated, and performed. Millennial musicians are mastering the classical style, while infusing their personalities, passions, and interests into their performances. The first of eight musicians in the Millennial Classical Musicians line up is 21-year-old, American concert violinist Jourdan Urbach.

JOURDAN URBACH – Musician, Composer, and Philanthropist
JourdanUrbach2Jourdan Urbach was born in December of 1991. Just seven years later, Jourdan hit the stage, making his professional debut on the violin. For comparison, Mozart premiered around the age of five. Music critics delight in Jourdan’s “buttery smooth” sound and the brilliance and technical acuity of his playing. Recognized as a child prodigy, this young superstar has already become a Grammy-winning concert violinist. He has even had the rare opportunity to perform – twice – as a featured artist at Carnegie Hall, an internationally renowned concert hall in Manhattan.

The pressure to succeed is understandably intense in these high-profile performances. His strong love of music, however, and positive attitude helps to carry him through. He reflects on the performing experience and his mindset as a modern classical musician in a 2011 interview with Charles Osgood, “I get a huge rush out of performing,” he shares, “and I can tolerate the practice because I know it leads up to that.”

Jourdan Urbach performing Aerion:

The Cherry On Top
Jourdan Urbach is not only a tremendously talented musician, he’s also passionately philanthropic and participates in what he calls “Responsible Music.” According to Jourdan, “music is designed to be heard, but it is also to be used to further the greater good.” In this spirit, he founded Concerts for a Cure (originally Children Helping Children) when he was just seven years old. Over the past 14 years, his charity has raised more than $5 million through classical music, benefiting children in New York hospitals and the international medical community. Jourdan’s musical and philanthropic passions play an important role in his service as an international representative of the United Nations’ Arts for Peace program that he promotes on his website,  “As a Goodwill Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence for UN (Arts for Peace), Jourdan serves as a cultural link between the UN community and the artistic community in NY and abroad.”

Jourdan actively impacts the world through his music and dedication to society. As a modern classical music performer and composer, he is vibrant, successful, and clearly high in demand. I look forward to watching his music career and charitable efforts grow and evolve, affecting the hearts and minds of people around the world.

JourdanUrbach

JOURDAN URBACH
Age: 21
Nationality: American
Instrument: Violin
Claim to Fame: Grammy-winning concert violinist; Contemporary composer; Founder of Children Helping Children
Facebook: JourdanUrbachMusic

Twitter: @JourdanUrbach
Website: jourdanurbach.com

As we move on to the second remarkable Millennial classical musician on the list, you’ll see how she impacts society through her music and advocacy efforts as well, and has risen to classical stardom with modern flair.

NICOLA BENEDETTI – The Silver Violinist
Introducing the ravishing, young classical violinist, Nicola Benedetti. This beautiful, Scotland native has already captured the hearts (and ears) of audiences throughout Great Britain and across the world. She will turn 26 in July.

NicolaBenedettiNicola’s musical journey began when she started violin lessons at the age of five. Approximately ten years later, she entered the Yehudi Menuhin School (YMS) in Surrey and studied with the acclaimed violin professor Natalia Boyarsky. After leaving YMS, she continued to develop her musical talent as a student of the Polish and Russian violinists, Maciej Rakowski and Pavel Vernikov, respectively. Her talents have been featured with professional symphonies and among prominent music festivals and events all over the world. And when she’s not touring, she enjoys playing regularly in her chamber trio with cellist (and also boyfriend of 10 years) Leonard Elschenbroich and pianist Alexei Grynyuk.

Big Sister
Nicola is also fiercely dedicated to music education and participates as a “Big Sister” and Board Member for Sistema Scotland. In recognition for her service to music and charity, she was appointed by the Queen of England to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours.

Life Achievements
Since the launch of her career as a modern classical musician, Nicola has managed to accumulate a spectacular list of accomplishments:

  • BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, performing the unconventional Szymanowski Violin Concerto
  • Recipient of the Classical BRIT Award for Young British Classic Performer in 2008
  • Debuted at the 2010 BBC Proms
  • Signed exclusively with Decca Classics in 2011
  • Best Female Artist at the Classic Brits in 2012
  • Listed as Classical “Best Female Artist” in iTunes Best of 2012
  • Released a tremendously successful CD, The Silver Violin

The Silver Violin on SoundCloud:

Bringing Sexy Back to Classical Music
Nicola produces the warmest and most heartfelt violin tones. She plays the Gariel Stradivarius (c. 1717), which is considered to be one of the highest quality and most valuable violins in the world – it’s considered the Gucci of instruments. Her modern-day patron, bank executive Jonathan Moulds, purchased the Strad for her to play for a mere £10 million, or the equivalent of nearly $15.5 million today.

Although she is known for her performance of classical music, she is also unafraid to dive into a wide variety of repertoire. Her latest album The Silver Violin is Hollywood gold, bringing the iconic sounds of the silver screen to her Silver Violin. The enormous success of her CD led to The Silver Violin Tour, which took place this past March in nine venues across Scotland.

NicolaBenedetti2

NICOLA BENEDETTI
Age: 25
Nationality: Scottish/Italian
Instrument: Violin
Claim to Fame: Best Female Classical Artist; plays the Gariel Stradivarius; Sistema Scotland – Big Sister and Board Member
Facebook: Nicola Benedetti Violin

Twitter: @NickyBenedetti
Website: nicolabenedetti.co.uk

Millennial musicians, such as violinists Nicola Benedetti and Jourdan Urbach, are taking the world’s stage by storm; challenging convention; and providing amazing classical music performances for growing audiences, excited listeners, and a variety of populations across the globe. Through music, modern classical musicians are conveying a message of passion and beauty, education and healing, and perhaps most of all, a message of encouragement and hope.

The next article in the Millennial Classical Musicians mini-series will feature a pioneering violist, and one of the greatest advocates for El Sistema, a revolutionary music education program originating in Venezuela; His weapon of choice – the baton.

Originally Published June 28, 2013 – genyhub.com

_________________________________________________________________

[1] http://www.naxos.com/education/brief_history.asp

The Millennials’ Orchestra: The Challenges Facing U.S. Symphony Orchestras – Part 1

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate Capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.


The Millennials’ Orchestra: The Challenges Facing U.S. Symphony Orchestras – Part 1

Declining Demographics
Symphony orchestras have been faced with many challenges over the decades, including financial distress, decreasing audiences and revenue, and increased competition for our patrons’ attention as technology, work, and education continue to evolve and shape our lives.  The so-called classical music crisis and threat of extinction for symphony orchestras have been a cause for concern among music lovers, culture-seekers, and orchestra managers everywhere.

In part 1 of my posts on the challenges facing symphony orchestras, I address the issue of declining audiences in the concert hall.  Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, coming soon!

A Return to CHURN
The Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study, led by Audience Insight LLC Project Director Alan Brown from 2000-2002, is considered to be the most extensive discipline-specific audience study ever conducted in the U.S.[1] The study analyzes the consumer markets for classical music performance (existing and prospective) among fifteen symphony orchestras across the United States.[2] These include the:[3]

  • Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
  • Colorado Symphony Association
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall
  • Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Kansas City Symphony
  • Long Beach Symphony Association
  • Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
  • New World Symphony
  • Oregon Symphony Association
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra Association
  • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
  • Symphony Society of San Antonio
  • Wichita Symphony Society

With more than 750 interviews conducted at each location, the study reveals valuable insights into consumer behaviors, frequency and patterns of attendance, as well as the values and benefits that audiences associate with the classical music concert experience.[4]

The research initiative stems from the preceding Magic of Music project commissioned by the Knight Foundation with the primary goal of strengthening the connection, or the bond, between audiences and orchestra musicians in the concert hall (phase 1, 1994).[5]  Innovative programs were designed as points of entry for new and younger (ages currently associated with members of the Millennial generation) patrons and evaluated based on the engagement of these audiences.[6]  Phase 2 of the project (1999) involved the continuation of program innovation and audience development,[7] and led to the national Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study by Audience Insight LLC (2000 – 2002).[8]

The comprehensive two-year study shows how symphony orchestras across the U.S. have “accumulated large numbers of inactive, former buyers – people who have attended a concert at some point in their lives but who do not attend now with any regularity.”[9] Declining attendance at symphony orchestras concerts (that is, having difficulty filling concert halls and attracting new audiences) is a prominent concern.[10] Unfortunately, similar patterns of poor audience retention and decline in overall attendance emerge in other landmark studies conducted by highly reputable arts researchers.

The League of American Orchestra’s Audience Growth Initiative (2005 – 2009), for example, revealed that 65% of symphony orchestra patrons are “one-time/uncommitted buyers.”[11] Despite the large number of individuals belonging to this segment, these patrons provided only 7% of the orchestras’ total revenue.[12]  Conversely, “loyal subscribers” and “extreme patrons,” or patrons that demonstrated greater commitment to larger average gifts and paying more for tickets and subscription packages, represented less than 10% patron households.[13]  This small group is also responsible for providing nearly 75% of the orchestras’ revenue.[14]  The disproportionate levels of support exist among concert ticket buyers and symphony orchestra donors.[15]

The lead researcher, Oliver Wyman, released the findings in the 2008 “Churn Report.”[16] As Wyman explains, “while the orchestras were good at attracting newcomers to concerts, they were having trouble getting people to come back for a second concert or sign up for a multi-concert subscription.”[17]  Churn has become particularly concerning as symphony orchestras face the increasing challenges of aging audiences and declining attendance at classical music concerts.[18] Researchers and consultants at TRG Arts have uncovered similarly disturbing trends in cultural arts attendance over decades of research.[19]

According to their Patron Loyalty Index, a measurement tool that gauges the level of loyalty patrons have to arts organizations, “Tryers” are considered the least loyal patrons and make up more than 90% of arts constituencies.[20]  Lack of loyalty, therefore, makes these patrons some of the most difficult to retain.[21] Churn and inactivity are understandably common behaviors at this level.  “Buyers” account for approximately 10% of patrons,[22] and are considered moderately loyal and more willing to make a donation in addition to ticket purchases.  The most loyal constituents are the “Advocates,” representing 2% of most patron bases.[23]  Advocates are typically the most frequent, consistent, and recent attendants.[24]

TRG Arts: The Loyalty Pyramid

LoyaltyPyramid

In order to mitigate associated risk and revenue loss, cultural arts organizations (symphony orchestras in this case) must actively seek the “re-engagement of Tryers, either from first time to second or last time to now.”[25]  Developing stronger, long-lasting patron relationships fosters greater patron loyalty and audience retention, effectively moving them from “Tryers,” to “Buyers,” to “Advocates.”[26]  With this approach, symphony orchestras can develop patron loyalty programs that strategically engage cultural consumers and encourage greater loyalty and increasingly philanthropic behavior.  In turn, the growth and redistribution of patrons displaying “Buyer” and “Advocate” behavior and loyalty serves to fortify and help sustain the organization.[27]

Subscription programs are seen as one way to escalate audience and donor loyalty.[28] Although researchers in the Audience Insight LLC’s 2002 consumer segmentation study believe that subscription campaign marketing can limit concert attendance for U.S. symphony orchestras.[29] Subscription marketing is often at odds with the needs and preferences of “younger audiences” – defined by Audience Insight LLC as ticket buyers between 18 and 34 years old (2002).[30] Many Millennials are simply uninterested in making a commitment to concert subscriptions.[31] Attracting these new and younger audiences, therefore, “may require a loosening of the definitional boundaries around ‘classical music’ and structural changes to the concert experience that recognize the underlying values and benefits that consumers seek from listening to classical music and attending live concerts.”[32]


[1] Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study: How Americans Relate to Classical Music and Their Local Orchestras, commissioned by 15 American Orchestras and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,” Southport, Connecticut: Audience Insight LLC, 2002, 5.
[2] Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study,” 2002.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid 127.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid 5.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid 6, 9.
[10] Ibid 12.
[11] PRESCOTT & ASSOCIATES, “Churning Butter into Gold: Patron Growth Initiative.” In League of American Orchestras 2011 National Conference. Minneapolis, Minnesota: League of American Orchestras, 2011.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Oliver Wyman, “Audience Growth Initiative Detailed Findings and Recommendations,” in Orchestra Audience Growth Initiative: Oliver Wyman, 2008.
[17] Oliver Wyman, “Oliver Wyman » Churn Report Facts and Stats.” last modified 2013, accessed March 20, 2013, http://www.oliverwyman.com/4071.htm.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Jill Robinson, “Too Many Tryers to Sustain the Arts,” in Analysis from TRG Arts: A Blog on Cultural Consumer Behavior, blogspot: Blogger, 2012, http://trgarts.blogspot.com/2012/03/too-many-tryers-to-sustain-arts.html.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Jill Robinson, “Too Many Tryers to Sustain the Arts.”
[29] Ibid.
[30] Alan Brown (Project Director), “Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study.”
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid 2.

Giving USA 2013: Establishing Context for Annual Giving in the U.S.

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the seminal publication reporting on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States.  For the past 57 years, these reports have provided fundraisers, nonprofit leaders, donors, and others within the charitable sector, with “the most comprehensive charitable giving data available.”  Here are the highlights from Giving USA’s 2013 report, establishing the context for annual giving in the United States for 2012-2013.

GivingUSA2013-Highlights

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Defining A Contemporary Generation

“The Millennials’ Orchestra” series of blog posts are not meant to be opinion pieces, but rather founded in research, which I gathered and reported as part of my graduate Capstone project from 2012-2013. This is a personal blog and does not represent the views or opinions of my employer.

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Defining A Contemporary Generation

Millennial Engagement with U.S. Symphony Orchestras
Members of the Millennial generation are noticeably lacking in the audiences of symphony orchestra concert halls.[1] Based on my research and personal experiences, I believe that developing a better understanding of the Millennial generation, and working to identify and establish effective marketing and development strategies tailored to their preferences and needs, may lend to greater success and stability for U.S. symphony orchestras in the 21st century.  The literature review to follow addresses some of the pressing issues facing symphony orchestras in the U.S., provides insight into the Millennial generation mindset and behaviors, shares examples of innovative programming and forward-thinking adaptations, and reinforces the importance of Millennial engagement.  First, however, it is important to consider how the term “Millennial” is commonly referred to and understood from various points of view.

An Important Note on Terminology
Researchers often refer to the Millennial generation in a variety of ways and use these terms somewhat interchangeably (e.g. Millennials, Millennial generation, Generation Y, Generation Next, NextGen, and younga(er) people/population/cohorts).  Characteristics of a specific generation (Millennial), therefore, are often conflated with the more general age category (young).  Each generation exhibits characteristics and behavior shaped by the prevalent attitudes, expectations, and events of the time.  The Boston Consulting Group, for example, has identified six different groups of Millennials based on consumer behavior.[2]  Listed in descending order of prevalence, these segments include: Hip-ennial (29%), Millennial Mom (22%), Anti-Millennial (16%), Gadget Guru (13%), Clean and Green Millennial (10%), and Old-School Millennial (10%).[3] Future generations of young people may or may not display the same characteristics associated with present-day Millennials.

Inconsistency also exists in defining age ranges of the Millennial generation.  While similar, the minimum and maximum boundaries of age tend to vary from source to source.  According to the Case Foundation, for example, Millennials are “people born between 1978 and 1993, or individuals who are currently 15 to 29 years old,”[4] while members of the Boston Consulting Group consider them as individuals “aged 16 to 34.”[5]  JiWire researchers, specializing in “mobile audience insights,”[6] consider Millennials to be “American consumers between ages 18 and 34.”[7]  Achieve’s Millennial Impact Report 2012 focuses on young adults between the ages of 20 and 35.[8] Finally, Pew Research Center’s Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, and corresponding report Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change., define Millennials as young adults, ages 18 to 29.[9]

Defining a generation solely based on age quickly becomes irrelevant as time passes – what is true at the time would not hold true in the following year.  It is more easily and consistently understood as a range of birth years.  The figure below is a comparison the five most recent generations by age (as of 2011) and by birth year.  The original version of this age timeline can be found on the Pew Research Center website as an interactive graphic.[10]

Pew Research Center: A Portrait of Five Generations

A Portrait of 5 Generations

The Pew Research Center’s 2010 report, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.,”[11] is based on information collected during a two-week survey in January 2010, involving more than 2,000 adults across the country.[12]  Millennials accounted for 830 of the total 2,020 sample group, enabling a more detailed analysis of Millennial attitudes.[13]  Additional Pew Research Center survey findings supplement the 2010 report, including the 2009 survey on changing attitudes toward work (Oct. 21-25, 2009 with 1,028 respondents, 18+ years old) and generational differences (July 20-Aug. 2, 2009 with 1,815 people nationally, 16+ years old).[14]  Surveys from their ongoing Internet & American Life Project provide supporting social and demographic information for the chapter on technology.[15]

Given the large sample size, national scope of the research, and multidimensional approach, one would expect Pew Research Center’s understanding of the Millennial generation to be highly credible and reliable.  Contributing to the larger report series – Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next – the Pew Research Center’s 2010 report looks at the values, attitudes and experiences of America’s next generation: the Millennials.”[16] It has been my mission to discover how Millennials value, perceive, and prefer to experience classical music performed by symphony orchestras in the United States.

*     *     *

Coming soon…a look at the issues facing U.S. symphony orchestras and some of the factors influencing Millennial participation.


[1] Greg Sandow. “Building a Young Audience (Proof of Culture Change).”
[2] Boston Consulting Group and Barkley and Service Management Group, “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes.” In BCG Perspectives: Boston Consulting Group, 2012.
[3] Michelle Lamar, 2012, New Research: 6 Distinct Segments of Millennials Identified, Social Media Today, retrieved from socialmediatoday website: http://socialmediatoday.com/michellelamarspiral16/490841/new-research-6-distinct-segments-millennials-identified.
[4] Alison Fine, “Social Citizens BETA,” Case Foundation, 2008.
[5] Sonia Paul, 2012, Millennial Consumers: Engaged, Optimistic, Charitable (STUDY), in Mashable Business.
[6] JiWire, 2012, Mobile Audience Insights Report, Q2 2012.
[7] Lauren Indvik, 2011, How the Millennial Generation Uses Mobile (INFOGRAPHIC), Mashable Tech, http://mashable.com/2011/10/13/millenials-mobile-infographic/.
[8] Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA), “The Millennial Impact Report 2012.”
[9] Pew Research Center, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
[10] Pew Research Center, “Interactive: A Portrait of Five Generations,” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/02/24/interactive-graphic-demographic-portrait-of-four-generations/.
[11] Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
[12] Ibid, “About the Report,” i.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”