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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.”

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Let the Journey Begin!

“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: Let the Journey Begin!

Millennial Generation Audiences
Since the summer of 2012, I have been working on my Master’s Capstone Portfolio in arts management at American University in Washington, D.C.  During this time I focused my attention on Millennial generation audiences and donors and improving their engagement with U.S. symphony orchestras.  Now that I have graduated, and therefore successfully completed my research project, I am excited to share it with you and hope you will enjoy reading about my thoughts and findings.  As always, I encourage you to comment and share with whomever you think will enjoy my blog.  Thanks for following along — I hope you’ll stay tuned for the duration and take interest in Millennial engagement in the arts!!  Let the journey begin…

Source: vxla on flickr

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The Millennials’ Orchestra:
 Marketing and Development Strategies for Engaging Millennial Generation Audiences and Donors in the U.S. Classical Symphony Orchestra Concert Experience

The purpose of my master’s portfolio is to describe effective marketing and fundraising strategies for engaging Millennial generation audiences and donors with symphony orchestras and classical music performance.  My work as the Strathmore Development Intern for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the supervision of Stephanie Johnson, Donor Relations Manager, and Deborah Broder, VP of Development, is contained in the portfolio section of my capstone. Work samples demonstrate elements of orchestra management and development, as well as the Next Generation BSO initiative – a development campaign inviting donors to consider underwriting tickets for young professionals to engage in Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performances.

Importance
Several key factors point to the importance of involving and recognizing this generation as participants in the culture and fundraising efforts of symphony orchestras in the U.S. today.  As with any other generation, this population group is characterized by certain distinguishable attributes and shaped by the particular life events and societal dynamics of their time.  Millennials – young adults between the ages 18 and 29 (as of 2010), or individuals born between the years 1981 and 1993 – are known for being confident, connected and open to change.[1] They have been described as the “American teens and twenty-somethings now making the passage into adulthood”[2] with a strong desire to get involved in meaningful activities, engage in social interaction, and give to causes they care most about.[3]

Robert Flanagan, American economist and Professor Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Business,[4] discusses the socio-economic perils facing U.S. symphony orchestras.[5]  He points to the fact that most Millennials are still finishing school or just starting their careers, and are therefore less likely to fit the traditional concert-goer mold.[6]  As of 2002, for example, the median age of people attending classical symphony orchestra concerts nationwide was 60 years and older.[7] These audiences also tend to exhibit higher socioeconomic status (i.e. individuals having at least a college degree and an annual income of $50,000 or more).[8] Such disparities may make Millennials feel less welcome in the concert hall and ultimately less likely to participate.[9] Unfortunately, the absence of Millennial audiences has become a growing concerning as audiences continue to age and participation declines.[10] The National Endowment for the Arts’ 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts reports on some of the influential factors in the marked decline of overall arts participation throughout the United States.[11]

In addition to the financial hardship associated with the economic recession just prior to the survey (2007-2008), the NEA found that classical music audiences between 1982 to 2008 “have aged faster than the general adult population (classical music is one in a small group of performing arts disciplines, including ballet, non-musical theatre, and jazz, to experience such rapid aging of audiences).”[12] In addition, the incidence of music education in the lives of Millennials reportedly fell by more than a third (to 38%) during that time.[13] Greg Sandow refers to the NEA’s research in his classical music ArtsJournal blog, but emphasizes the dramatic decline in attendance by Millennials beginning in the early 1980s.[14]

Given the decline in classical concert attendance even among older adults in recent years,[15] and relative absence of Millennials to help sustain arts organizations going forward, waning attendance becomes not only a concern of reduced ticket sales and annual revenue[S1] , it also brings the long-term health of classical symphony orchestra performance into question.[16] Millennials are clearly eager to make a difference in the world[17] and symphony orchestras would be wise to develop ways of effectively and strategically engaging these individuals, making good use of their time, skills, and donations.[18]


[1] Pew Research Center, 2010, Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change, In Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, edited by Paul Taylor and Scott Keeter: Pew Research Center.
[2] Ibid.
[3]Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates, “The Millennial Impact Report 2012.”
[4] Anne Gregor, “Financial Leadership Required to Fight Symphony Orchestra ‘Cost Disease’,” in Stanford Graduate School of Business (2012), published electronically February 8, 2012, http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/symphony-financial-leadership.html.
[5] Robert J Flanagan, The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges, 2012.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Alan Brown, 2002, Classical music audiences, in Midmorning: Minnesota Public Radio.
[8] Robert J Flanagan, The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Greg Sandow, “Building a Young Audience (Proof of Culture Change).” In Greg Sandow on the future of classical music. ArtsJournal, 2012.
[11] Kevin Williams and David Keen, “2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts,” edited by Don Ball, National Endowment for the Arts, November 2009.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Greg Sandow, “Building a Young Audience (Proof of Culture Change).”
[15] Alan Brown, 2002, Classical music audiences.
[16] Greg Sandow, (ArtsJournal blogger), interview by Catherine Starek, “The Future of Classical Music,” June 10, 2012.
[17] Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates, “The Millennial Impact Report 2012.”
[18] Ibid.

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Master’s Capstone Presentation in Arts Management

Master's Capstone Presentation, AU Arts Management

Master’s Capstone Presentation, AU Arts Management