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” 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. 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. 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%). 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,” while members of the Boston Consulting Group consider them as individuals “aged 16 to 34.” JiWire researchers, specializing in “mobile audience insights,” consider Millennials to be “American consumers between ages 18 and 34.” Achieve’s Millennial Impact Report 2012 focuses on young adults between the ages of 20 and 35. 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.
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.
Pew Research Center: A Portrait of Five Generations
The Pew Research Center’s 2010 report, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.,” is based on information collected during a two-week survey in January 2010, involving more than 2,000 adults across the country. Millennials accounted for 830 of the total 2,020 sample group, enabling a more detailed analysis of Millennial attitudes. 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). Surveys from their ongoing Internet & American Life Project provide supporting social and demographic information for the chapter on technology.
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.” 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.
 Greg Sandow. “Building a Young Audience (Proof of Culture Change).”
 Boston Consulting Group and Barkley and Service Management Group, “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes.” In BCG Perspectives: Boston Consulting Group, 2012.
 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.
 Alison Fine, “Social Citizens BETA,” Case Foundation, 2008.
 Sonia Paul, 2012, Millennial Consumers: Engaged, Optimistic, Charitable (STUDY), in Mashable Business.
 JiWire, 2012, Mobile Audience Insights Report, Q2 2012.
 Lauren Indvik, 2011, How the Millennial Generation Uses Mobile (INFOGRAPHIC), Mashable Tech, http://mashable.com/2011/10/13/millenials-mobile-infographic/.
 Achieve and Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA), “The Millennial Impact Report 2012.”
 Pew Research Center, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
 Pew Research Center, “Interactive: A Portrait of Five Generations,” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/02/24/interactive-graphic-demographic-portrait-of-four-generations/.
 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
 Ibid, “About the Report,” i.
 Pew Research Center, 2010, “Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change.”
AU Arts Management Master’s Capstone Presentations – Spring 2013
Emerging arts leaders from American University’s Arts Management program discuss more than a year’s worth of research and work on their Master’s Capstone projects. Presentations were made Thurs – Fri, May 2-3 & Mon, May 6, 2013.
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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.
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.’
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.
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+>>
Catherine Starek is serving as an intern with the Smithsonian Associates this fall, she writes about her experience so far here…
The Millennials’ Orchestra: Engaging Younger Symphony Audiences and Donors in the Classical Music Experience
Millennial generation – “Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials – the American teens and twenty-somethings (ages 18-29) who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium – have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.”
It is no secret that symphony orchestras are facing hard and changing times. In addition to the challenges posed by the struggling economy, symphony audiences are continuing to increase in age as overall attendance continues to decline (Alan Brown’s Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study and Thomas Wolf’s “The Search for Shining Eyes”). This decline has been most dramatic among young adults over the past thirty years. Without adequate numbers of younger people to eventually replace current audiences, the future of symphony orchestras in the US has been called into question. Despite the doom and gloom of bankruptcy announcements and foreclosures in the world of symphony orchestras, some organizations are managing to adapt and survive through innovative programming and by offering greater opportunities for audience engagement.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra have gained attention for their ability to engage 21st century audiences in the concert experience through 21st century means – the BSO’s Off the Cuff and Webumentaries series; Brooklyn Phil’s Beethoven Remix (click here for finalists) and collaboration with Mos Def; San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score and conductor MTT’s TEDTalks; Chicago Symphony’s Beyond the Score; and Detroit Symphony’s webcasts. I believe that engaging the Millennial generation as members of the audience and as donors will increase the potential for these symphony orchestras, as well as other arts organizations, to maintain and sustain future success. Not only would this help fill an ever-growing void in audience attendance, it would also lend to renewed interest and excitement in orchestral work and foster future generations of support for music and the arts.
As a member of the Millennial generation, I am excited to meet and talk with other Millennials who are passionate about symphony orchestras, classical music, and the arts. As arts managers we must know how to attract and engage these individuals in ways that resonate with their rapidly evolving interests and needs (Pew Research Center – Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next) , while retaining the current audiences and donors already supporting our organizations. In general, Millennials are eager to get involved, take on leadership roles, and contribute time and money to philanthropic efforts in nonprofit organizations (see Millennial Impact Report). Symphony orchestras are beginning to take notice and placing greater emphasis on engaging these younger audiences and donors in exciting and relevant ways.
It is an honor to be the guest host of #ArtsMgtChat in the upcoming discussion The Millennials’ Orchestra: Engaging Younger Symphony Audiences and Donors in the Classical Music Experience. I look forward to hearing your ideas on engaging Millennials in the performing arts!
- As an arts consumer and arts manager, what are some of the major barriers to symphony orchestras and classical music?
- What are professional symphony orchestras doing well to engage the Millennial generation?
- What role(s) do Millennials play in and for your organization?
- How much priority should Millennials be given in the nonprofit arts?
- What marketing strategies does your organization have in place for targeting and attracting younger audiences?
- Does your organization have development programs and/or opportunities for younger donors?
- How important is mobile and social media technology for engaging audiences and donors?
- How have you been involved with music in your life?
 PewResearchCenter, 2010, Millennials: Confident-Connected-Open to Change, In Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, edited by Paul Taylor and Scott Keeter: Pew Research Center.