Some people actually hate the word ‘Engagement’ in relation to talking about audiences for orchestras. Gene Carr, CEO of Patron Technology in the USA is one of them. And he is not alone. The theory goes something like this: if we need to talk about engaging audiences, then we know we have a problem. For the ADO, this seems like a moot point: there is a problem! The real point of Mr. Carr’s response is to highlight that we seem to spend more time raising awareness of the problem, than tackling the problem head on. Orchestra innovation expert, Greg Sandow, is also ambivalent about the concept of the ‘engaged audience‘ suggesting that it is a danger sign that “something’s missing” in a contributed blog on Matt Lehrman’s influential page (Audience Wanted) on the artsjournal.com website.
Whereas we broadly agree with Greg’s sentiment, it’s not quite as easy to compare the pop music marketing machine revelling in dissecting, for example, the minutiae of Kanye’s preferred [insert any object or product here] to his army of doting (read: engaged) fan base: a machine driven by huge promotional dollar spends, widespread and increasingly convergent media coverage (often unrelated to the music-making accomplishments or performances of Mr. West, or any similar high-profile entertainers) to the comparatively small marketing budget and de-emphasized media exposure of classical music. Of course, we wish it were otherwise. Who wouldn’t want to see classical music press push some of the more inane popular music coverage off the front-page off the primary media outlets! But is it really plausible for the classical music industry to achieve similar level of media saturation coverage? Continue Reading →