How to Get More People to Listen to Classical Music
Creating a desire for people to attend and support classical music organizations
I just finished reading Michael Kaiser's "The Art of the Turnaround --creating and maintaining healthy arts organizations." It's a wonderful read for anyone interested in promoting the arts. As a composer, my interest lies with Symphony Orchestra's, but Michael's experience is applicable to any arts organization.
One of the big messages is the concept that arts organizations need to create a sense of interest in the public and supporters. IF an organization looks to be creating something worthy, then people will want to support it. Michael gives case studies of the organizations he's worked with and how he created a sense of value for each. This value is important. People want to feel as though the money they are giving is going to something worthwhile, whether it's for the purchase of a ticket, or in a donation. If the organization is elitist, or exclusionary, you limit the number of people who will want to support your organization.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote "What's Wrong with the Symphony Orchestra Model we have Today?" I posted the article to LinkedIn and the argument continues on how to best resolve the issue of struggling orchestras. While there are a number of opinions, pretty much every one agrees orchestras need to reach more people. This isn't just tickets sold, but also in terms of donations. But donors don't want to donate to an orchestra that only marginally fills the hall. People want to back a winner.
"The Art of the Turnaround" says this over and over again. Struggling organizations have to turn the impression of a failing organization into showing what the future potential can be for the organization. A great way to do this is to get the musicians talking about the music.
Musicians in all forms of classical music need to step up and start actively promoting their ensembles. It is not enough to just have a marketing or publicity department talking to the press. Social media is rapidly becoming the 'go to' place for people to get their information. Facebook is positioning itself as the one-stop-shop for where people go to get updates --not only about their friends, but their interests, news and anything that affects their life. Regardless of what you think about this or whether you want it, the reality is Facebook is where more people go than any other source of information. While other forms of social media don't have the same clout, social media is where society is talking. If arts organisations are not active on social media, they are slowly becoming invisible to the general public. If their performers are not actively participating in talking about these arts organizations, the arts organizations are missing a vital way to get more attention for what they do.
Arts organizations and classical music in general need more people talking about how great it is. We need to show how interesting it is --the value it has for everyone.