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March 14, 2010

Just read this article, which is a few years old.  It was an interesting read.  Its about the people not attending orchestral performers who otherwise might be inclined to do so.  In other words, its the part of the population that COULD be a part of the classical community, but for one reason or another is not.  This group is called in the article as Culturally Aware Non-Attenders (CANA).  The article spent some time looking at the reasons:

  • CANAs spend money on things like movie tickets for a “when we can” weekend activity, and buy tickets to rock concerts or sporting events as special events.  Orchestral concerts fit somewhere in between there on the cost continuum…. too expensive for just a “wanna check out the symphony” but not special enough to be “Let’s blow all of our savings on 4 tickets to see the Knicks.”
  • CANAs use classical music for things like studying and relaxing.  Neither of these translate too well to an active listening experience in the concert hall.  Also, they may be unsure of what their studying music compares to when given all of the choices they have for repertoire.
  • CANAs do not come across the information for concerts nearly as much as other cultural products.  This is partially because Orchestras favor Direct Mailings that target previous buyers.

From where I stand, some of the solutions may be to address getting these people in the seats directly:

  • There needs to be series that address specifically what people want: Date Night, New to the Concert Hall, For the Whole Family, evenings geared towards relaxation, etc.  An even better way to do this might be to have a way for someone to dial in their concertgoing experience by checking a number of qualities they are looking for and getting their results.  Maybe the NY Phil should steal the code from this “What Twilight Character Are You?” Quiz.  They could also just ask a twelve year old kid who took an HTML class in school, I guess.
  • Orchestras need to crack the “special event” or just something to do problem.  One way:  Devoting perhaps devoting Friday Nights to a rotation of a handful of works.  “Hey, we missed it this Friday, but they’re playing the same program next Friday.”  I get this becomes a problem when you have guest artists in town, etc.
  • People who attend art museums, see movies, etc. need to have concert promotions shoved in their face.  Often.  Working with an art museum so that in the same weekend, they can see Adolphe Willette and then hear Debussy.

I know these ideas are so great that everyone will want me to program their concerts and do their marketing.  Unfortunately, I’m not looking for a job.  So there.

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