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?

Google+ moves up in the popularity polls, taking second place in social media

“Facebook still has a massive lead, but Google+, with 343-million active users, is now the second most popular social network.” – ZDNet

Not too long ago, I wrote about Google+ taking the bronze in social media and its potential for enhancing community engagement with nonprofit arts organizations.  It was recently reported that Google+ has now taken second place, claiming the silver medal in social media.

  • What are you ideas for Google+ engagement in the arts?
  • Have you taken advantage of Google+ Communities and/or Hangouts with your audiences?
  • What are your goals regarding social media arts engagement for the new year?

Can’t wait to hear from you!  Thanks for stopping by.

Source: GlobalWebIndex at

Who are the Millennials? Here’s a fancy INFOGRAPHIC to explain…

I often write about music and Millennials. As a member of Gen Y, the following characteristics, interests, and behaviors are familiar to me. With so much of life and work becoming socially oriented and relationship based, it is more important than ever to understand exactly who you are talking to. Communication can only improve as one develops their awareness of generational differences and expectations.

So…who are the Millennials exactly? Pew Research shares what they know:

**Sorry about the small print! When you click on the infographic, it will take you to the source, on which you can zoom in and see the information more clearly.

Who are the Millennials?

How Millennial Are You?

How Millennial Are You?  This is what Pew Research Center – an organization known to track, analyze, and report on “numbers, facts, and trends shaping your world” – is asking American generations.  As an emerging arts leader (one who’s researching the Millennial generation and working to identify and describe fundraising and marketing strategies to effectively engage this generation in symphony orchestra concerts and events), I was excited to take THE QUIZ in order to gauge my overall Millennial-ness.

As a member of the Millennial generation, I scored 86 out of 100 (see below).  Questions asked relate to the type of data collected by Pew Research Center for their landmark project: Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next.  From politics and values, to media and digital life, as well as demographics and social trends, Millennials have been deemed “Confident. Connected. Open to Change.”

How Millennial are you? Take the quiz!>>  


Millennial Takeover: The Future of Nonprofits

Here’s a brief, entertaining view into the Millennial generation and future of nonprofits.

“Here’s to hoping the future of nonprofits looks as fun as this.”

Millennials in Nonprofit Fundraising for the Arts: Eager and Underrepresented

Millennials and arts leaders from all over the country joined in the recent TweetChat #MillennialDonorsAU (Oct 24, 2012 at 5:40 EDT) to share their thoughts and ideas on Millennial donors in the arts.

We addressed four main areas – the Millennial generation defined, current impact of Millennial donors in the arts, future impact, and strategies for arts organizations to incorporate and grow their Millennial donor base – and other relevant questions and ideas.

The following reflection serves to provide insight into the role of Millennial donors in the arts, to highlight some of the arts-relevant and distinctive features of this empowered generation, inspire arts managers to better understand and respond to Millennial giving in the arts, and to build Millennial engagement within and between arts organizations.

Q1: How do you define Millennials? #MillennialDonorsAU

While I have been focusing on a more specific definition for my research (using the Pew Research definition, Millennials are those born beginning in the early 1980′s, currently ranging from 18-29 years old), participants in the chat tended to refer to Millennials in a more conceptual way.  Courtney Harge, Founder & Artistic Director of Colloquy Collective in Brooklyn, NY, as well as Ally Yusuf, marketing professional and founder and moderator of #ArtsMgtChat, both answered in this way.

A1: @Arts_Courtney I define it as a mindset. I’ve seen Millennials act like Baby Boomers, particularly in the nonprofit field.

@AllyYusuf_ My definition of Millennials: ambitious, innovative, want to make the world a better place.

Q2: How are Millennials making an impact in your org? #MillennialDonorsAU

Answered ranged from donation of time & money, to their participation as arts ambassadors, as well as coming to the table with fewer obligations, and their potential as a source of future funding (i.e. wealth transfer and population size). Some of the most powerful responses, in my opinion, came from Courtney Harge and Violet Morris, a fellow arts management graduate student at American University who was engaging in the TweetChat during our in-person presentation. (This was encouraged, of course!)

A2: @Arts_Courtney Refusing (rightfully) to wait their turn. Being present and a force to reckon with.

@violet_dc Payoff might not be immediate – but get them in the door.

Q3: How can arts organizations include Millennials? Why? #MillennialDonorsAU

Johnny Kolasinski, marketing manager for City Lights Theater Company in San Jose, CA, set the tone for the conversation around the incorporation of Millennial donors in arts organizations. Steven Dawson, fellow classmate and Executive Chair of Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at AU, added to these ideas emphasizing consistent, wholehearted initiatives to incorporate Millennials.

A3: @cycloptiko Reach out and include them in the work artistically and organizationally…Provide opportunities for growth within org – so Millennials don’t have to jump ship to advance.

@ArtsmanSteven You can’t nurture them in one aspect, and then ignore them in another. They notice.

Co-Host of the discussion, Raynel Frazier, and EALS Executive Committee member, emphasized the importance and influence of technology:

@EALSAU Engage Millennials on social outlets! …organizations should use technology wisely in order to reach Millennials.

Q4: What do you think we can look forward to in the future of Millennial giving? #MillennialDonorsAU

TweetChat participants suggested a variety of examples – from arts ambassador programs and young professionals groups, to dynamic giving models and greater opportunities for collaborative and collective giving.

Attempting to point to the importance of having a long-range vision with Millennial donors, I tweeted: “Patience is a virtue! Approach with long-term (relationship focused) mindset.”

I remained curious about Millennial fundraising initiatives already underway and ideas for moving forward and decided to pose an additional question.

Q5: Are your orgs reaching out to Millennial donors? How? #MillennialDonorsAU

We addressed the more upfront nature of Millennials (generally forthcoming about what they can and can’t give, which has the potential to make gift solicitation an easier task), organizational tolerance for “risk,”and the ability to balance stewardship of current donors and cultivating new, Millennial donors.

Kolasinski made a particularly gripping comment and addressed the idea among the group: “We’re underrepresented. How many devo depts have a Millennial anywhere NEAR the front lines?”

Others seemed to be in agreement with this identified deficiency among arts organizations and the conversation shifted to the need for greater engagement – establishing opportunities for critical involvement internally, professionally, and with fresh programs, to increase giving online, and to build peer relationships between and among the leadership and fellow patrons of the arts organization.  Addressing the importance of presenting multiple giving options for short- and long-term impact brought the TweetChat to a meaningful and thought-provoking close.

Within days of the chat, it was determined that the #MillennialDonorsAU TweetChat – according to a report generated via – managed to reach 2,050 Twitter accounts (overall no. of ppl who received Tweets) and made 11,012 impressions (no. of times the hashtag appeared on Twitter timelines)!!

Emerging arts leaders are thinking about the Millennial generation and it is my hope that we will begin to see a positive shift in the representation of Millennials as volunteers, advocates, employees, patrons, and prospective donors among 21st century, U.S. arts organizations!

Suggested Reading:

I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions! Please feel free to share your stories and experiences in the arts and any advice you would like to offer. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for additional posts on Millennials in the arts!

11 Nonprofits That Excel at Social Media (Updated) – Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog

11 Nonprofits That Excel at Social Media « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

Nonprofit social media

Established audit criteria for nonprofit social media campaigns :

  • Consistent, visually compelling avatar
  • Custom-designed backgrounds
  • Consistent and fresh content
  • SM links included
  • Enable readers to subscribe and donate
  • Active fan base on Facebook and Google+ (consistently RT, repin, and reblog)
  • Balance – what kind of content/how often
  • Early adopters & boldly pioneer the Social Web

The top 11 nonprofits based on their use of social media (arts orgs in bold):

1. AIDS Healthcare Foundation ::

2. Amnesty International ::

3. CARE ::

4.Field Museum ::

5. Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) ::

6. London Symphony Orchestra ::

(Updated 09.03.12: The LSO has been featured in the League of American Orchestras’ Tech News August 2012, among other interesting music tech news – radio, digital music, social media, and more. Check it out!)

7. Media Matters ::

8. Nature Conservancy ::

9. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ::

10. Project Aware ::

11. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ::

The Millennials’ Orchestra: Enabling Connectivity and Engagement Through Technology

Social media and technology has become essential to the communication and connectivity of performing arts organizations.  Used effectively, social media can help the arts establish personality, authenticity, transparency, and encourage greater audience interactivity and participation.  The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra uses a variety of social networking and multimedia tools to help promote their work and engage constituents.  The BSO is active on several major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  Links to the BSO’s social media pages can be found on the “BSO 2.0 Connect With Us”[1] page on the organization’s website, inviting people can connect to the symphony and to fellow BSO fans and providing access to a collection of BSO recordings on iTunes.  The Baltimore Symphony maintains a regular presence online, posting frequent updates, multimedia files, and expressing a variety of information.  When it comes to expanding outreach and awareness through technology, the BSO seems to be doing rather well.

  • The BSO on Facebook shares videos, recordings, images, concert/event updates, symphony news, opportunities to connect with the conductor, interesting posts related to classical music and composers, audience reactions, and fan comments.  The BSO has also enabled the Spotify app, providing listening access to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra radio free of charge.  Overall, their Facebook page certainly seems to be effective in terms of increasing visibility; it has been “liked” by more than 6,800 users.[2]
  • @BaltSymphony posts regular #tweets about concerts and events, fan comments, audience reactions, promos, and interesting, music-related articles, reaching over 7,000 followers on Twitter.  An image of the symphony’s esteemed Maestra, Marin Alsop, is used for the background, reinforcing the connection between the conductor and BSO fans.
  • BSOmusic on YouTube is especially critical to establishing this technological connection between the conductor and audience, featuring videos of backstage interviews with musicians, performances/events, season previews, conductor talks, musician conversations, and all of Maestra Alsop’s Webumentaries about the works performed by the BSO.  BSOmusic videos have accumulated nearly 140,000 views and more than 220 YouTube subscribers.[3]

The BSO has achieved success in other technological outlets through their recordings and radio broadcasts of their performances.  The Baltimore Symphony has an acclaimed recording history, receiving its first Grammy award in 1990, followed by two more in 1994, and Grammy nominations in 1997, 2000, and 2009.  The orchestra’s modern technological outreach and development has been propelled by the esteemed BSO Maestra, Marin Alsop.  Under her leadership, the BSO ventured into online distribution on iTunes beginning in 2007, featuring a series recordings and free podcasts geared towards classical music newcomers.  The orchestra also entered into a partnership with XM Satellite Radio, reaching a subscriber base of more than eight million nationwide, and with the Naxos record label.  Additionally, Marin Alsop has become a regular feature on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition,” with her radio segment, “Marin Alsop on Music.”  The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has also been featured on American Public Media’s highly regarded music programs, “Performance Today” and “SymphonyCast.”[4]

The use and importance of technology is made apparent in their programming and professionally designed website as well.  Although the BSO’s 2011-2012 concert season recently came to a close, there is already a buzz in the air about the future programs scheduled for 2012-2013.  The coming season will feature multimedia productions inviting audiences to “explore the energy of the film score and the art of cinema” (e.g. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, West Side Story, Hair Spray, James Bond, and Star Wars).[5]  All of this is explained, of course, in a video preview on the BSO website.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is unique, however, because they perform at two “home” locations – the Meyerhoff in Baltimore, Maryland, and Strathmore in North Bethesda.  As the Strathmore Development intern for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, my experience with BSO technology has primarily revolved around the Tessitura Network and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.  The BSO recently switched to the Cloud, which prompted the decision to upgrade security to a higher level to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive patron information.  This shows responsibility and greater accountability towards BSO constituents.

The BSO development team at Strathmore maintains open lines of communication via email, telephone, and direct mail.  Electronic invitations are sent to donors for special events, allowing for RSVP tracking online.  Email invitations are sent out to Symphony Society and Governing Society Members for pre-concert and intermission receptions held in the exclusive Comcast Donor Lounge.   As they respond, it is my job to update their individual activity histories in Tessitura.  Having a record of attendance allows us to track participation, identify potential prospects for greater giving, and to know whom to expect at the Donor Lounge on the night of the performance.

At the season finale and donor reception, photos were taken of board members (including the Board Chair), donors, guests, and the featured soloist, Nadja Salerno Sonnenburg, with Marin Alsop.  These pictures become special memento for the people who attended the event, as well as a visual reminder for potential donors to see how much fun they could be having at the BSO at Strathmore events!  Subscribing members receive additional benefits throughout the season, such as a free subscription to the Naxos online music library and special discounts.  For anyone who is curious about future performances, the BSO at Strathmore’s season brochure has been made available online, which can be accessed at any time.

The BSO has integrated the use of technology, social media, and electronic and multimedia outreach tools into the company culture, but I think the BSO at Strathmore could do more to enhance their presence online to grow the donor base and tell their story.  It is clear that the current donors are greatly appreciated, but what if they received regular “thank you” videos from the Donor Relations Manager (my primary supervisor) and the VP of Development at Strathmore?  Not only would they feel acknowledged for their contributions, the video could also be used to provide evidence of the impact of their support.  To encourage patrons to become or continue as donors, why not send them video previews of the special donor events planned for the season?  Having these videos would make it even easier for patrons to share these experiences with family and friends, which could potentially result in increased contributions and participation in future concerts and events.  To improve outreach and audience awareness, the BSO at Strathmore could even create their own Facebook page to connect with fans and further promote BSO events at the Bethesda location.

* * *

Overall, I think the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Twitter profile says it best, reinforcing the organization’s reputation as a high quality, innovative, and engaging orchestra – “The BSO is a world-class orchestra that performs regularly in two venues and has established itself as a leader in programming, technology & outreach.”[6]

[5] ibid.

Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media?

Question: Which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media? « artsmgtchat.

Background on social media in the arts from the artsmgtchat blog:

The #artsmgtchat community had a productive and exciting conversation around social media strategies in the arts last week. As funding cuts and financial issues continue to plague various arts organizations, social media presents an incredible opportunity to connect and engage with new audiences, as well as build community support around the arts. While many arts organizations use tools like Facebook and Twitter for marketing, there are other institutions that are taking these tools to the next level, thinking creatively and strategically about how social media fits into the overall engagement strategy and long-range plan.

So the question is: “which arts organizations inspire creativity and innovation through social media?

Three examples of creative and innovative use of social media in the arts:

What experiences have you had with and through social media in the arts?  Do you think technology takes away from or has the ability to enhance the performing arts experience?

Check out my thoughts and examples of innovative social media in symphony orchestras.

Interested in chatting more?  The next #artsmgtchat is scheduled for Friday, May 25 at 2:00 PM on Twitter (@artsmgtchat).  It will cover Arts Organization Boards: Maximizing Engagement & Effectiveness, featuring special guests from the Arts & Business Council Chicago.