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

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SURVEY RESULTS: What People Really Think About Classical Music and Symphony Orchestra Performance in the 21st C.

GRADUATE RESEARCH SURVEY 2013 – CLASSICAL MUSIC AND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PERFORMANCE (SUMMARY OF RESULTS)

110 responses

1. Which generation do you represent? (Upper age limit adjusted as of 2012)

The Millennial Generation – Those born after 1980 – the first generation to come into adulthood in the new millennium; ages 18-32 62 56%
Generation X – People born from 1965-1980; ages 32-47 25 23%
The Baby Boomers – Those born between 1946 and 1964, associated with the fertility spike following WWII; ages 48-66 23 21%
The Silent Generation – Adults born during the Great Depression and WWII, between 1928-1945; ages 67-84 0 0%
The Greatest Generation – The generation that fought and won WWII, the adults born before 1928; ages 84+ 0 0%

2. What is your gender?

Female 79 72%
Male 31 28%

3. Is there a particular instance or influence that first attracted you to classical music?

Musicians in your family 32 29%
Music teacher 20 18%
Friends 6 5%
Particular performance 15 14%
Multimedia – movies, video games, TV shows, YouTube, etc. 14 13%
Other 23 21%

4. When was the last time you attended a symphony orchestra performance?

Within the past 3 months 57 52%
Within the past 6 months 9 8%
Within the past year 16 15%
Within the past 2 years 12 11%
Between 2 and 5 years ago 8 7%
Five years + 5 5%
Never been 3 3%

5. When and by whom were you first introduced to symphony performance?

As a child, by your parents or family 50 45%
During a field trip in primary school (ages 5-10) 23 21%
In secondary school, through friends, teacher(s), a mentor, band (ages 11-17) 24 22%
Private music lessons, by a teacher or peers 3 3%
During college, through peers, classes, professors, advisors, school performances, local orchestra (18+) 8 7%
Other 2 2%
Comments
  • My father has been involved with classical music as a child himself; therefore, he wanted to instill the same traditions into his daughter. As a child, he would play Harold in Italy by Berlioz for me and I would dance along with the melody. From this moment, he knew that I would play the viola.
  • I was in High School.
  • I saw a lot of band concerts because I was in band.
  • I (joined) the Symphony orchestra at the University.
  • Wolf Trap summer children’s festival. Also school field trips to the Kennedy Center.
  • Our public school district in north Jersey had a strong, well-supported music program.
  • My high school…

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

Programming – concert selections, musical time period, etc. 16 15%
Expense 16 15%
Concert experience 17 15%
Lack of interest 50 45%
Other 11 10%
Comments
  • I was an intern at the Kennedy Center for September through December in 2012 and attended many of their performances during that period. I think the NSO Pops drew the youngest average crowd for an orchestra production, but I’m not sure if that was due to the repertoire or the novelty. The concert experience itself does seem the most important element to me though, as everyone wanted to be there for this unique event.
  • pieces need to be fun and upbeat in order to get younger audiences interested. I am a musician myself, and I still get bored at orchestra concerts sometimes…

7. How do you participate in orchestra performance most often?

Listening to broadcasts and/or recordings 40 36%
Creating music – composition, performance, etc. 22 20%
Online – YouTube, streaming, Spotify, etc. 21 19%
Mobile devises – iPod, cell phones, iPad, etc. 9 8%
Other 18 16%
Comments
  • General Manager of the Capital City Symphony
  • Also most often an audience member.
  • Violinist in the AUSO (American University Symphony Orchestra)
  • Public radio
  • I’m also learning how to compose my own contemporary classical pieces. I frequently use Pandora and have several stations from different periods of music. I most often listen to the station created around Sergi Prokofiev and the Romantic period.
  • I have a large collection of music on my computer, and I keep meaning to buy the .99 cent master collection albums from Amazon. (100 tracks for 99 cents) …

8. If you had the option, how would you prefer to participate in orchestra performance?

Listening to broadcasts and/or recordings 20 18%
Creating music – composition, performance, etc. 49 45%
Online – YouTube, streaming, Spotify, etc. 7 6%
Mobile devises – iPod, cell phones, iPad, etc. 4 4%
Other 30 27%
Comments
  • While I do feel live performances are often the best way to experience a show from an audience perspective, online viewing does create a nice substitute though. Being able to see the performers does add another level of involvement, even if doing so from home, because the audience relates the physicality involved with producing the music.
  • Performance
  • The other options should always support and encourage people to attend (frequently) the live in-person experience, which is second to none.
  • On-line streaming could also be useful
  • I would love to compose or play, but I haven’t received the training…

9. If you could choose, what would you like orchestras to do differently? (change, do more/less of, add new, etc.?)

Concert timing (days, time of day, time of year) 14 13%
Musicians’ dress 5 5%
Programming (Classical, pops, contemporary, etc.) 35 32%
Technology 18 16%
Composers and/or artists 7 6%
Other 31 28%
Comments
  • Work with other groups to expand audience. Cross-pollinate!
  • Our minds have become overwhelmed with stimulus, and we are accustomed to bigger and better. With technology today, pairing orchestral performances with dance, aerial cirque acts, light shows, and video footage gives the active mind more to do and fortifies the experience so shelling out the $100 a ticket is more likely.
  • Evening performances are the norm for a working public, but I would love to see more daytime performances.
  • I think the orchestra has to do more to draw people in especially through social media, free events…

10. What else (ideas, experiences, opinions, suggestions, etc.) would you like to share about engaging audiences (current and new) in classical music or symphony performance?

  • Overall making performances relevant to current audiences, including programming, accessibility, concert experience, online interaction, etc.
  • Orchestra musicians, conductor and the soloist should come out from their backstage dressing rooms and greet the audience members after performances. It’s a more intimate feeling than just playing on stage.
  • As a performer, I find it is difficult to engage current audiences in classical music because of the general notion that it all sounds like Mozart or is boring. I would like to spend more time encouraging my friends to listen to more music that is not as predictable by taking them with me to more live performances or encouraging them to see me play. I feel it is always more interesting and engaging as an audience member to see someone you know up on stage performing.
Number of daily responses

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Special Thanks:
My professors in the arts management department at AU; Millennial blog platform, GenYHub and GenYTV rep, Marni G.; Professor Marc Whitt and his PR and Music Industry students at EKU; musicians in the AUSO; Audience Development Specialist, Shoshana FanizzaDr. Michael Ryan, ED of Fine Arts in Fort Worth I.S.D. (Independent School District); Twitter followers: Zero2Maestro, Harpist Nadia P., arts marketer Connie R.LibraryOboistSinfonia TorontoPolyphonic, American Composer Christopher James Lee, PV (Pioneer Valley) Symphony, Ilias Ntais of enchoris, Emily Davis President of Emily Davis (EDA) Consulting, and the League of American Orchestras.

Also, thanks to anyone who has taken interest in my work, shared my survey, or offered their thoughts, ideas, encouragement, or advice!

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Lovingly Nicknamed The “Mighty Mouse” of the Orchestra World

“In a first-of-its-kind partnership with Philadelphia Live Arts, The Philadelphia Orchestra collaborates with the New York-based Ridge Theater Company to present a 21st-century treatment of The Rite of Spring with dancers, video projection, and theatrical lighting.”

Orchestral innovations – Gallery
Thurs., Feb. 21, 2013 (www.philly.com)

The Philadelphia Orchestra is in rehearsals for “The Rite of Spring” with the cutting-edge Ridge Theater Company of New York at Verizon Hall. The presentation will include aerialists, multiple scrims for video opportunities, and onstage dancers. (Katherine Blodgett)

Yannick Nézet-Séguin announced his second Philadelphia Orchestra season Wednesday in a climate of acclaim so intense that a less sturdy musician might be braced for the cyclical backlash that the likes of Lang Lang and Gustavo Dudamel have experienced before him. But he says he’s just happy word is circulating that the Philadelphia Orchestra is back.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin announced his second Philadelphia Orchestra season Wednesday.

*     *     *
His energy, plus a diminutive but muscular physique, prompted mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato to dub him “Mighty Mouse” in a New York Times profile.

Until then, the Montreal-born conductor knew nothing about the American cartoon character. “Joyce wrote me a message immediately and said ‘Oh God! I’m so embarrassed!’ I went online, saw what Mighty Mouse was, and thought, ‘Why not?’ I find this cute and funny.”

He also didn’t know that Mighty Mouse’s catchphrase – “Here I come to save the day!” – was so appropriate to his Philadelphia Orchestra tenure. But he does now.

Read more>> Orchestral innovations

Symphony orchestras going mobile? App-solutely!

With the use of mobile apps on the rise, I was curious to see how many symphony orchestras have embraced the trend.

Orchestra apps are making it easier for fans to follow the latest news, find event information, buy tickets, make donations, listen to music samples, watch videos, learn about conductors and musicians, access driving and parking information, and more…all on their mobile devices.

There were a few orchestras that I expected to find, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony.  There were several that I was pleasantly surprised to see!  Although I am rather impressed by the number of symphony orchestra apps already available, I feel there is great potential for this list, as well as patron engagement, to grow.

Which symphony orchestras did I find in the rapidly expanding mobile app-mosphere?

New finds!

Classical Music Apps:
WQXR – New York’s Classical Music Radio Station – released the Top 5 Classical Music Apps (top 5 @ 105) in 2011, including:

  1. Bachtrack – search by composer, work, choreographer, performer, country, city, venue or any combination of these.
  2. Boston Symphony Orchestra – BSO Media Center: WebTV provides virtual concert-going experience (Press release)
  3. Medici.tv – subscribe, rent films, and watch live webcasts
  4. iGendyn – entertaining sound synthesis app
  5. Mahler Translation – Nearly 2300 English translations of German musical words and phrases found in Gustav Mahler’s symphonic works.

You may find other WQXR Top 5 lists from 2012 that interest you:

I want to hear from you! (@CStarek; www.mezzaphonicallyspeaking.wordpress.com; Google+)

  1. Would you consider downloading your local orchestra’s mobile app?
  2. What are your initial reactions to this service?
  3. What are your thoughts for the future of symphony orchestra engagement?

Kaiser’s Debate: New Models or Better Management in the Arts?

Internship Reflection & AU Blog Post: July 12, 2012

As I work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and more specifically with the development team for the BSO at Strathmore, I am finding an increasing amount of evidence that the BSO is part of the solution for arts organizations.  According to Michael Kaiser, the “new” model of arts organizations may be equated with organizations that are well managed and find ways to effectively adapt to change.  The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has worked hard to keep up with the needs and interests of a rapidly evolving society and serves as an inspiration for the “new” way of functioning as an arts organization in the 21st century.

Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s conductor and music director, has spearheaded many innovative efforts and has done a lot to bring the symphony “up to speed” within society.  She has been a major proponent of implementing new technology in the arts experience, reaching out to audiences, and to diversifying the orchestra performance experience.  Our audiences are changing and Marin has heightened awareness among BSO management.  In a collaborative effort, the managers, leadership, and musicians have tapped into new possibilities during turbulent times.

Michael Kaiser has stated: “I believe firmly that well-run arts organizations that appreciate how the world is changing, and react accordingly, that engage board members, that excite audiences, that create important work, that grow and change with the times, will survive and thrive for decades to come.”  The Baltimore Symphony resonates with this description and is effectively positioning itself as a leader among arts organizations in modern society.

I look forward to continuing the discussion in the next #ArtsMgtChat — Friday, August 17, 2012 at 2:00 PM Eastern (see discussion questions below).  Feel free to join in and/or follow the #artsmgtchat on Twitter!

Questions:

  1. What strategies do you use to fund your work?
  2. Do you see a need for larger institutions that support and deliver art?
  3. Is the cost of maintaining organizations becoming too high and actually burdening the art and artists?
  4. Are audiences eroding in your community?
  5. Are you using technology to access audiences? Donors?
  6. Is your staff/team putting in more time for less pay?
  7. Are you collaborating with other artists or institutions to produce your work?
  8. What do you see that you would consider a “new model”?