Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How not to cultivate new audiences

I had an email in my inbox this afternoon from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra advertising an upcoming concert. 'Jascha Heifitz of our day' here in two weeks! read the subject line, as if that comparison alone would set the box office phones a-ringing.

Presumably, most symphony-goers know who Heifitz is. But that's just the thing: they're already going to the symphony. What of the uncultured masses -- the ones the ASO should probably be reaching out to so it can put a few more butts in seats? Half the people who received this email are probably wondering who the hell Jascha Heifitz is. I'd like to think of myself as being pretty culturally aware -- I was a music major in college -- and honestly, I had no idea who Heifitz was until after I graduated. (To my credit, as a voice major I'm much better with big name vocalists of the past.)

My point is, do you think we could come up with advertising that speaks to a broader segment of the population? Or one that doesn't make you feel dumb that you don't know who an old-timey virtuoso violinist is? It might help with those lagging ticket sales and sinking revenues. I'm not saying it will turn things around, but it would certainly be a start...

[full disclosure: I am a current member of the ASO chorus and a past symphony subscriber.]

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