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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The Millennials’ Orchestra: Changing Styles of Engagement

“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: Changing Styles of Engagement

The prominence and use of technology is one of the most distinguishing factors of the Millennial generation.101 Authors of the Pew Research Center’s comprehensive study Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, consider Millennials to be the first “always connected” generation.102 The increased use of social media and mobile Internet is readily apparent.103 Aaron Smith, author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project gadget survey, reveals in an interview with NPR that 96% of the Millennials in the U.S. own cellphones and are accessing information in different ways, even when compared to just a few years before.104

Carolyn Boiarsky, Journal of Popular Culture contributor, acknowledges the influence of technology on young adults, referring to those raised in the “Electronic Age” as the Nintendo or N-generation.105 The National Endowment for the Arts106 and Pew Research Center107 reveal the multimodal tendencies of the Millennial generation, reflecting their preference for more personalized and media-based creation, expression, and arts participation.108  Boiarsky also notes how members of the Millennial generation are more visually and kinesthetically oriented in a digital and electronic world.109 Westwater’s Symphonic Photochoreography110 may be one way to address such needs, enhancing the experience of symphony orchestra performance and engage Millennials through relevant technology. Symphonic photochoreography combines video projections with symphony orchestra performances to create a synchronized concert experience that incorporates classical music with dynamic, digital imagery.111  Pointing to the social nature of Millennials, Tamsen McMahon and Roger Sametz of MarketingProfs.com emphasize the need for marketing professionals to create, sustain, and evolve in the “Age of the Social.”112 It is important to note that much of this 21st century social interaction occurs online, and increasingly through the use of mobile technology.113

Regarding classical music engagement, audiences can be categorized in a variety of
ways. Henk Roose of Acta Sociologica categorizes classical music audiences based on aesthetic inclinations (or musical tastes), socio-demographics (social and demographic factors affecting status in society), motivations, and frequency of attendance. In this way, Roose recognizes three categories of classical music audiences: passers-by, interested participants, and inner circle.114 Alan Brown with Audience Insights LLC has idenCircles of Valuetified seven layers of value associated with attending live classical music performance by U.S. adults, including both intrinsic (artistic or educational; spiritual; healing/therapeutic) and extrinsic (ritual/ambiance; social interaction; relationship enhancement; occasion) values (pictured left).115 In addition to these considerations, Brown’s Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study examines how classical music consumers relate (or perceive their connection) to their local symphony orchestras.116

The National Endowment for the Arts released a new media report in 2010, discussing the influence of technology on arts participation and exploring the concept of Audience 2.0 – or the ways in which “Americans participate in the arts via electronic and digital media”117 In this report, the NEA examines participation among U.S. adults (18 to 75+ years old)118 in benchmark arts activities. “Benchmark arts activities include jazz, classical music, opera, musical plays, non-musical plays, ballet performances, and visual arts.”119 Respondents are divided into four participant segments based on their inclination, or disinclination, to engage in the arts through media, live performance, or both.120 Segments included those participating through both electronic media and live attendance; electronic media only; live attendance only; neither electronic media nor live attendance.121

Given the choice, how would you prefer to engage with your local symphony orchestra in the classical music concert experience?

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101 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
102 Ibid.
103 National Public Radio,”Survey: 96 Percent of Young Adults Own Cellphones,” 2010,
published electronically, October 18, 2010. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130639028.
104 Ibid.
105 Carolyn Boiarsky, “This Is Not Our Fathers’ Generation: Web Pages, the Chicago Lyric
Opera, and the Philadelphia Orchestra,” Journal of Popular Culture, 36 (Summer 2002): 14-24.
106 Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard and Alan S. Brown, “Beyond Attendance: A Multi-Modal
Understanding of Arts Participation,” 104: National Endowment for the Arts, 2011.
107 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
108 Jennifer L. Novak-Leonard and Alan S. Brown, “Beyond Attendance.”
109 Ibid.
110 Dr. James Westwater and Nicholas Bardonnay, “Westwater Arts: Home,” http://westwaterarts.com/home.html.
111 Ibid.
112 Tamsen McMahon and Roger Sametz, “Create, Sustain, Evolve: Engaging Your Organization
to Keep Your Brand Healthy and Relevant,” In Marketing/Branding, http://www.sametz.com/news-and-articles/authored-articles/430-create-sustain-evolve.
113 Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr, “Social Media &
Mobile Internet Use among Teens and Young Adults,” In Millennials: A Portrait of Generation
Next, Washington, D.C., 2010.
114 Henk Roose, “Many-Voiced or Unisono? An Inquiry into Motives for Attendance and
Aesthetic Dispositions of the Audience Attending Classical Concerts,” Acta Sociologica, 51, no.
3 (2008): 237-53.
115 Alan Brown Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study: How Americans Relate to Classical Music and Their Local Orchestras. Southport, (Connecticut: Audience Insight LLC, 2002), http://www.polyphonic.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2002_Classical_Music_Consumer_Report.pdf.
116 Ibid.

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.

Pairing Sight with Sound: More on Symphonic Photochoreography

As I discussed in my previous post, symphony orchestras are beginning to explore innovative audio-visual performance opportunities, such as James Westwater’s symphonic photochoreography.

Symphonic Photochoreography

Symphonic Photochoreography — what exactly is that?

As founder James Westwater explains: “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.” Learn more>>

Who’s Doing It?

Here are some examples of visionary orchestral ensembles, effectively shaping the 21st century symphony orchestra performance and audience engagement landscape.

1. The Concert Artists of Baltimore:
The Concert Artists of Baltimore (CAB) is exploring new ways of providing musical performance and enhancing audience experiences through the use of visual media in orchestral performance.

In collaboration with the CAB orchestra, Maestro Polochick, and Westwater Arts, The Concert Artists of Baltimore presented a symphonic photochoreography Maestro Series concert – “a multi-media extravaganza pairing concert favorites with stunning images of nature.”

Performance Pieces:
Copland: Three Old American Songs
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Barber: Adagio
Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite III
Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

2. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has also collaborated with Westwater Arts to provide an audio-visual symphony concert, contributing to Westwater’s “Kids, Cameras and Classics™” series.

It’s a great way to engage young people with classical music and your orchestra. KC&C is interactive, hands-on, innovative, educational, empowering, skill-developing, collaborative, spirit-lifting, kid-friendly and readily fundable.

Baltimore Symphony performs a Westwater KCC piece. http://westwaterarts.com/involve.html

3. Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

Our ‘Heroes’ concert was an excellent example of what we mean when we say that we are not merely an orchestra in Boulder, but rather ‘Boulder’s orchestra.’ [The concert] demonstrated not only our commitment to offering ways to enhance and deepen the impact of a musical experience, but also our determination to reflect our community’s spirit of discovery and civic-mindedness. — Michael Butterman, Music Director & Conductor


Other examples of audio-visual concerts

4. North Carolina Symphony – The Planets: An HD Odyssey
In early February, the Women of North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony performed “The Planets: An HD Odyssey,” compliments of Opus3 Artists.  The performance offered a stunning combination of “Holst’s symphonic powerhouse, The Planets, live with HD images from NASA projected on the big screen.”

Performance Pieces:
Richard Strauss: Fanfare from Also sprach Zarathustra
Johann Strauss, Jr.: On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, Op. 314
John Williams: The Battle from Star Wars
arr. Custer: Star Trek Through the Years
Holst: The Planets, Op. 32

“The images in the movie…were often ­astonishing. Photographs from rovers and satellites, radar images and ­computer-generated ­graphics were combined to give the audience the impression of circling individual planets and sometimes ­flying over their awesomely barren landscapes.” —The New York Times

5. The Philadelphia Orchestra
You can learn more about the orchestral innovations of Philly Orchestra’s performance of The Rite of Spring in another recent blog post>>

Take-Aways

Finding common ground with so many members of your community is exciting in itself and I think these concerts provide a forum that makes this possible.  It’s not just music, it’s a concert experience...a shared concert experience that becomes a story that audiences want to share with their family and friends. Concerts that stimulate both the visual and audio senses, at least in my opinion, seem stickier.

With innovative partnerships, dynamic multimedia, and exciting, multi-sensory audience experiences such as these, I encourage symphony orchestras to continue thinking outside of the traditional performance, to push their creative boundaries, and connect with their audiences in a variety of ways that are relevant and interesting to them.  You have to know your audience, which takes time and stems from the development of strong relationships.  With audio-visual performances to facilitate social interaction and find common ground among enthusiastic and innovative arts organizations, I think symphony orchestras and other cultural arts groups have a lot to look forward to in the evolution of technology.

Have you participated in a multi-media concert experience? What are your thoughts?

The Houston Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, led by Hans Graf and featuring images of our solar system. NY Times – Music Review.

‘SEE’ the power of music for arts audience development!

Audience Development Specialists Blog!

We are leading up to the Classical Music Webinaron Friday! Today we have a guest post by Catherine Starek.  Catherine is a graduate student with the desire to promote the arts to younger audiences.  She came across a particular type of program, symphonic photochoreography, that is being used by some orchestras with great results.  The following is her personal experience and opinions about this presentation and how it might be one answer for reaching out to new and younger audiences.  Enjoy!

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Do you ever wish you could ‘SEE’ the power of music?
bv Catherine Starek

If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. Some symphony orchestras are exploring innovative audio-visual performance options, such as James Westwater‘s symphonic photochoreography.

What is symphonic photochoreography? James Westwater explains: “Symphonic photochoreography is an innovative art form that engages audiences worldwide with evocative, multi-image photographic essays choreographed and performed live to selected…

View original post 855 more words

Getting Engaged This New Year?: Try Google+

If you’re planning to get engaged in the New Year, consider Google+…for business, that is.  Businesses who wish to commit to long-term relationships with their fans should consider the newest upgrades to this increasingly popular social media platform.

Earlier this month, Google+ surpassed 500 million users. On Friday (Dec 28, 2012), HubSpot‘s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog highlighted the platform’s newest features.

Google+ is changing for the better, with The Next Web reporting that Google+ Business Pages now have the ability to interact with all Google+ users, regardless of whether users have added the business page to one of their Circles.  Furthermore, Google has also indicated that a new Google+ analytics platform is on its way, slated to be launched ‘in the coming weeks.’

What does this mean for social media marketersGoogle+ now enables even greater opportunities to increase engagement with business pages and across the web.

Google+ Business Pages will now have the ability to interact and engage with any and all Google+ users, opening up more engagement opportunities for marketers, and possibly increasing the chances that users will add businesses pages to their Circles.

Coming soon:

Google+PageAnalytics

What will the new Google+ analytics platform offer?  Measuring your business’s social influence on Google+ will include several useful features, allowing you to identify influencers, create social reports, and listen to your fans.

Google+ Ripples will provide a visual guide enabling businesses to trace and learn from online interactions with their page.  Businesses can develop a better understanding of their social ROI — how Google+ influences your social impact online — with standard and custom social reports.  Information about who the users are and how they are interacting with your page, as well as their demographics and social activities (+1’s, shares, and comments) will be made available.

Coupled with their closed-loop marketing analytics, marketers should have much greater insight into how effective their Google+ efforts are, and be able to drill down into the individual types of content and updates that resonate (and what doesn’t) with their Google+ audiences.

Nonprofit arts organizations can benefit from this type of online interaction and social impact measurement as well.  Increased engagement via Google+ has the potential to foster relationships with and build greater rapport among current and new arts patrons.  Audiences all over the world can begin to learn and interact with your organization, ideally becoming some of your greatest advocates among their families and friends.

The full effect of Google+ and its online engagement features are not yet fully realized or understood, but the possibilities are certainly exciting.  Give your audiences a backstage pass to engaging arts activities in the performance hall and online.  Get creative.  Get engaged!

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If you have any ideas or experiences with Google+ for the arts or business in general, I would love to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts below.

You can also find me on Google+>>