Friday, February 07, 2014

How can orchestras and ensembles survive?

Classical music is facing a crisis. How can orchestras and ensembles cope?

First, which are the problems?
  • Less attention for classical music in general and in schools in particular - the result of government policies.
  • Economic crisis, leading governments to cut subsidies.
  • The internet requires new business models.
When it comes to solutions, funding is an obvious first:
  • Sponsoring.
  • Promotion.
  • Extra performances, provided the marginal costs are limited.
  • Try to attract new audiences (without alienating existing ones).
  • Increase income per listener (subscriptions, donations, CD sales, memorabilia, etc.).
  • New subscription services.
  • Cooperations.
  • Serve children.
The internet forces orchestras and ensembles to redefine what they do:
  • Hang on to core values (live performance, focus on specific genres) only.
  • Follow your audience, looking for internet delivery (such as The Digital Concert Hall from the Berlin Philharmonic).
  • Move away from specific windows (i.e. live performance) and make music available on demand. This could range from providing CD recordings of concerts, provided immediately afterwards. Other options: (internet) radio, streaming, YouTube live, YouTube channel, digital TV channel,
  • Build apps (e.g. NY Philharmonic, London PO, Detroit SO).
  • Broaden the repertory.
Broadening the repertory:
  • Newsletter (email).
  • Sponsoring (friends of the orchestra).
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, SoundCloud, Spotify).
  • Ambassadors (celebrities, politicians, corporate leaders).
  • Engage friended international established musicians.
Subscription services:
  • Concerts, full season tickets.
  • Rehearsals.
  • Supporters (friends).
  • CDs.
  • Soloists paying the orchestra for accompaniment (2-sided business model).
  • New services to develop with peer ensembles (ASKO|Schönberg, Ensemble intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, MusikFabri/k etc.).
  • Orchestra + ensemble concerts for pieces such as Britten - War Requiem, Dutilleux - Second Symphony, Escher - Summer rites at noon, Stockhausen - Gruppen etc.
  • Multi-discipline concerts across different art forms (cf. AAA-series at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra).
Concerts for children:
  • Don't just let the kids come to you, but ensembles can visit schools.
  • Don't underestimate children. Wouldn't it be cool to confront them with Georg Friedrich Haas - In vain?

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