Marketing Classical Music to Teens (2)

Yesterday afternoon I attended a wonderful piano recital at a local church. The soloist performed Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Takemitsu, Prokofiev and a premier of a work by Reiprich. The price of admission was a donation of canned goods to the church’s food pantry. There was a full audience…casual…not exactly your symphony subscription ticket-holders. But as I looked around I counted exactly 2 audience members under the age of 21. One of them was my daughter.

It couldn’t have been the ticket price…surely everyone could find a can of beans or soup to donate. I don’t think it was the programming…there was something for everyone’s taste…if no other piece, then the Rondo Alla Turca from the Mozart K331 Sonata would have grabbed their attention. The pianist addressed the audience between pieces so it wasn’t an off-putting tux-and-tails performance.

So why weren’t there more teens in the audience?

We’ve seen that marketing classical music is a tricky thing. And speaking of the Philly Orchestra, Greg Sandow wonders what kind of family the marketing department had in mind with their recent attempt to engage the whole family with a “Free Neighborhood Concert.”

I face a similar problem each time I hold a Salon Concert at my music studio. There some of the most engaging improvisatory performances by guest artists from around the world take place without one piano student in the audience… even after I send out notices to all 40 students and their parents announcing the events. It can’t be because they don’t like music because why would I have students clamoring to perform on my little Coffeehouse Recitals? (As I wrote before, the sense of  community of  is the big draw there.)

I think part of the answer can be found when we take a look at what the youth marketers are saying. Last week the Generation Einstein conference brought experts from all over the world together to discuss the future of marketing and communication in a round table conference in Amsterdam.

What can classical music presenters take away from this conference? Here’s a snippet of the round table conversation…about how to improve communication:

We have to take the first step to make it better, to open that door again. We have to regain their trust by treating them as individuals and partners in the conversation instead of as a researchable targetgroup. In order to do that, we need to:
1. Change our mindset: listen instead of talking.
2. Change our way of thinking about target groups: fans instead of targets.
3. Change our research methods: search for inspiration instead of testing and checking.
4. Change the creative process: in-creation instead of co-creation.
5. Change the way we work: love-oriented instead of task oriented.

Read the entire summary of their findings here.

Perhaps we classical music presenters can learn from this research and also take a lesson in marketing from companies like Threadless, or venues like MasMas. I’m willing to give it a try, and I’ll keep you posted on my students’ attendance at the next Salon Concert.

4 thoughts on “Marketing Classical Music to Teens (2)

  1. Great post. Everything I have read on this blog is insightful-I think it is wonderful that young people interested in piano have such a great teacher, someone obviously who cares so deeply for them and for music.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Wayne. It seems my definition of “piano teacher” has evolved over the years. It’s not a contest to see how many notes the students can play perfectly, it’s become more of a challenge to see how many can develop a deep appreciation for music of all kinds.

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