Why do orchestras insist on recycling the same programming models over and over again while at the same time expecting new audiences to show up? As the orchestra field works furiously to try and reverse the long trend of shrinking audiences and revenue, you can find innovations in marketing and audience development everywhere. Studies on audiences’ behavior and interests, along with various ticket-price models, have been extensive. And new music is being embraced with a fresh spirit as orchestras reach out to the next generation of composers who can help them connect to and engage with that oh-so-sought-after demographic of 30-to-45-somethings.
I was pleased to read Matthew Cmiel’s article, Talkin’ ‘Bout the i(Pod) Generation, on San Francisco Classical Voice last week. Matthew describes the ways the iPod has revolutionized our listening habits through the shuffle and playlists features. With permission from SFCV, here are a couple excerpts from Matthew’s article. First, his take on shuffle mode:
Suddenly, people who engaged with myriad forms of music, who loved jazz and country, classical and rock, were hearing these pieces back to back. What happened when music began to be played this way?
Greg Sandow recently wrote on his blog about an idea presented by Michael Lam to improve the orchestra concert experience by projecting a “scoreboard” of information for the audience to follow along. The naysayers were put off by this idea, saying “audiences would hate the distraction” and that such an approach would result in “didactic suffocation.” You can read Greg’s “Orchestra Scoreboards” post and the interesting comments here.
That discussion started me thinking about a program that could succeed with the scoreboard concept and I came up with a remix of old, new and hybrid classical, plus photo-choreography.
In my last post, I discussed the models of sustaining and disruptive technologies as proposed by Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma.
The orchestra field is great at creating new sustaining technologies—those innovations that support our core product of traditional concerts. But we’re not so good at creating disruptive technologies—game changing innovations that challenge our notions of what an orchestra can be and how it can be relevant to community life.
Ben Cameron, in his key note address at the LAO’s national conference in Altanta, challenged orchestras to do three things: Continue reading »
A few years ago I was participating in a week-long retreat in Santa Fe as part of the Andrew MellonFoundation’s Innovations Forum. Representatives from the three orchestras chosen for that year’s award were in attendance. During one of the discussions about the challenges we all faced to implementing change in the tradition-bound orchestra world, someone spoke about their orchestra board’s definition of artistic excellence and the specific parameters for achieving excellence. Those included performing certain composers, on a certain stage and with a particular dress code. Even the type of lighting on the orchestra and audience was included in their definition of what would constitute artistic excellence.
YIKES –talk about challenges to innovation!
Orchestra audiences are fading away. If we don’t change course and revitalize the orchestra concert experience, many of our orchestras will slide into decline as the next generation of audiences passes by without noticing.
Yet this is an exciting time for orchestras as more composers are breaking stylistic boundaries. And there are pockets of experimentation with new kinds of concert experiences that are bringing in the diverse audiences we need to sustain our orchestras into the future. Slowly, a new kind of orchestra is emerging. Continue reading »