Adam Schatz, a concert promoter, plans to capture performances of bands all over the city and show them on a Web site, so people can sample the music, and, he hopes, go to see it live
Sample Sale: Growing a Jazz Audience
ADAM SCHATZ, the 23-year-old concert promoter who runs the nonprofit outfit Search and Restore, has been trying to develop a new audience for jazz almost as if the old ones never existed. It helps people in his line of work to hold a base-line dogmatic assumption about culture, and his is that jazz culture has no laurels to rest on. “Jazz has been so tainted by a pretty self-righteous attitude,” he explained in an interview late last month, talking at a run. “It kills any desire for people to go out and discover it.”
Since 2007 Mr. Schatz has put on concerts for bands at spaces outside the usual web of New York jazz clubs and theaters, presenting new-ish jazz groups like Kneebody and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. In his concert-presenting work he tends to deal with a specific kind of jazz (energetic, style-scrambling, unbeholden to the 1960s models of postbop or free improvisation), a particular audience (young) and a particular type of gathering (quickly assembled, unmediated by corporate interests, predicated on the example of the do-it-yourself rock-show scene). But he’s got a larger purpose. His Web site,searchandrestore.com, lists nightly gigs around the city, not just those he has a stake in. And next year he is planning to film, with some help, more than 200 gigs all over the city, to create a current document of live jazz in New York at his site.
That’s a lot of work. The idea is to make it easier for you to know what a jazz group sounds and looks like, so that you will go out and see it yourself, wherever it’s playing. To finance the four-nights-a-week shooting schedule, he’s attempting to raise $75,000 for the project on the online pledge-drive site kickstarter.com. (You can go to kickstarter.com and type “Search and Restore”; the drive ends on Monday.) Even though the project hasn’t even started, it’s worth thinking about what it could accomplish, and what else it could inspire.
A saxophonist, Mr. Schatz started promoting at 15, booking gigs at the YMCA in Newton, Mass., his hometown. He came to New York to study jazz performance at New York University, while putting on other bands’ shows and playing in bands of his own. “Having been through four years of jazz school, I’d be crazy if I didn’t appreciate and love the history of the music,” he said. “But I have an equally strong love for where it’s going. In rock ’n’ roll there’s just as much cultural weight, but that sense of responsibility isn’t there when people talk about it. Instead there’s constant evolution, and it’s accepted that audiences can move from one thing to the next and get down with it. That’s how that scene flourishes. With jazz such a thing doesn’t exist.”
I think he’s exaggerating for effect — promoters do that — but he has a point. As a jazz critic for The New York Times, the question I hear most is which club to visit. I’ve got my favorite places, but I’d rather tell people which musicians to hear, never mind where they’re playing. Jazz culture is built on its musicians, and in jazz they’re always in flux, weaving in and out of one another’s bands, expanding their languages. New audiences always need to be forming, but in the end the more important bonds of those audiences are the germinating, ever-changing ones, among listeners of similar musical interests, not the fixed and sentimental ones, between patrons and places.
The do-it-yourself music-space movement, in New York and elsewhere, made some useful changes for rock. It built excitement around bands whether or not they had put out a record and gave them a new and constantly revised touring circuit. Concertgoing New Yorkers (younger ones, anyway) have been creating their own scenes, and consequently the identities of places like Jazz at Lincoln Center or the Village Vanguard, let alone their admission prices, may feel static or overbearing to them. This is where agitators like Mr. Schatz, whose project is essentially mobile — in other words, not tied to any particular club — come in.
There are a couple of interesting things about Search and Restore’s proposed jazz-video project. One is that it doesn’t entirely benefit Mr. Schatz, or at least not directly. He’s convinced that the jazz audience needs to be more hungry, and he’s spreading information to create the hunger. “My mission is to bring people together around art,” he proclaimed. “We don’t care who you are or how old you are. We just want you to get down.”
The other is that he doesn’t think of it as an archive. Older jazz culture is document-obsessed; Mr. Schatz isn’t. “The point of this is not to preserve, but to expose,” he said. “And with 200 shows we can come pretty damn close to encapsulating the community.” Each artist will have a breakout page. The page for, say, the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, might have video of his own band and videos of the three or four other groups he’s currently playing in.
“It’s something to move through,” as Mr. Schatz put it, “so that you can live and breathe within the scene, become psyched by it, see how different people play differently in different bands.” You’d think he would be inspired by the example of Smalls, the West Village basement club, beloved to students since the early 1990s, which still keeps its cover charge competitively low, runs after-hours gigs through the week and has gone fully digital, with live streaming video and its own fathoms-deep audio archive of gigs past. (It went online last year at smallsjazzclub.com; it is a fabulous resource.) Not particularly. “They go toward the more traditional way of things,” Mr. Schatz said, “which I don’t see as being attractive to new audiences.”
Mr. Schatz arrived in New York and saw the efflorescence of the raw, low-overhead, guerrilla-style rock show, where the lack of comforts like air-conditioning and easy egress in case of fire only helped to make places feel less mediated and thus, in a funny way, better. Consequently his promoter models are not New York’s jazz club-and-festival promoters like George Wein and Michael Dorf, but people like Edan Wilber, who helps run the music space Death by Audio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Joe Ahearn, who has been booking shows for three years at Silent Barn, a concert spot and living space in Ridgewood, Queens, and works as managing director of Showpaper, the print-only publication that runs listings of every do-it-yourself show in the New York area. “Showpaper is one of the most selfless things on the planet,” Mr. Schatz said, with a tang of shame. “Those dudes are way more committed than I am.” It can’t be coincidence that the bands he’s enthusiastic about tend not to be the Someone-or-Other Quartets but new bands with names that don’t immediately identify as jazz.
Mr. Schatz has put on gigs around New York in places like Public Assembly in Williamsburg and at the Theaters at 45 Bleecker in the East Village, outside the regular circuit of clubs and theaters. He’s just starting to move into other cities, having booked two shows for Mr. Argue’s orchestra in Washington on Jan. 5: an afternoon show at theKennedy Center, and an evening show at Subterranean A, a do-it-yourself space, on a double bill with the Virginia band Fight the Big Bull. He’s also been involved since early this year with two innovative new jazz festivals, Winter Jazzfest and Undead Jazzfest.
At both of those festivals — the next Winter Jazzfest will be on Jan. 7 and 8 — he books bands into Kenny’s Castaways, the cheery Bleecker Street bar that ordinarily books the scrubbiest rock bands in the city. It has been good, it turns out, to hear excellent jazz groups in an overpacked throng, legs dangling from the upstairs balcony and a hundred or so standing in the rear, in a Manhattan club of no particular cachet; it answered a need I hadn’t put my finger on.
“It’s kind of crazy to want to mobilize this community, because it seems like such an uphill battle,” Mr. Schatz said. But that’s the point. It feels uphill because it’s worth it.
Can Jazz be saved ?
In 1987, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring jazz to be “a rare and valuable national treasure.” Nowadays the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis is taught in public schools, heard on TV commercials and performed at prestigious venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center, which even runs its own nightclub, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.
Here’s the catch: Nobody’s listening.
No, it’s not quite that bad—but it’s no longer possible for head-in-the-sand types to pretend that the great American art form is economically healthy or that its future looks anything other than bleak.
The bad news came from the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the fourth to be conducted by the NEA (in participation with the U.S. Census Bureau) since 1982. These are the findings that made jazz musicians sit up and take notice:
• In 2002, the year of the last survey, 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2008, that figure fell to 7.8%.
• Not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older—fast. The median age of adults in America who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. In 1982 it was 29.
• Older people are also much less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were a few years ago. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 9.8%. In 2002, it was 13.9%. That’s a 30% drop in attendance.
• Even among college-educated adults, the audience for live jazz has shrunk significantly, to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.
These numbers indicate that the audience for jazz in America is both aging and shrinking at an alarming rate. What I find no less revealing, though, is that the median age of the jazz audience is now comparable to the ages for attendees of live performances of classical music (49 in 2008 vs. 40 in 1982), opera (48 in 2008 vs. 43 in 1982), nonmusical plays (47 in 2008 vs. 39 in 1982) and ballet (46 in 2008 vs. 37 in 1982). In 1982, by contrast, jazz fans were much younger than their high-culture counterparts.
What does this tell us? I suspect it means, among other things, that the average American now sees jazz as a form of high art. Nor should this come as a surprise to anyone, since most of the jazz musicians that I know feel pretty much the same way. They regard themselves as artists, not entertainers, masters of a musical language that is comparable in seriousness to classical music—and just as off-putting to pop-loving listeners who have no more use for Wynton Marsalis than they do for Felix Mendelssohn.
Jazz has changed greatly since the ’30s, when Louis Armstrong, one of the supreme musical geniuses of the 20th century, was also a pop star, a gravel-voiced crooner who made movies with Bing Crosby and Mae West and whose records sold by the truckload to fans who knew nothing about jazz except that Satchmo played and sang it. As late as the early ’50s, jazz was still for the most part a genuinely popular music, a utilitarian, song-based idiom to which ordinary people could dance if they felt like it. But by the ’60s, it had evolved into a challenging concert music whose complexities repelled many of the same youngsters who were falling hard for rock and soul. Yes, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” sold very well for a jazz album in 1965—but most kids preferred “California Girls” and “The Tracks of My Tears,” and still do now that they have kids of their own.
Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to undo the transformation of jazz into a sophisticated art music. But there’s no sense in pretending that it didn’t happen, or that contemporary jazz is capable of appealing to the same kind of mass audience that thrilled to the big bands of the swing era. And it is precisely because jazz is now widely viewed as a high-culture art form that its makers must start to grapple with the same problems of presentation, marketing and audience development as do symphony orchestras, drama companies and art museums—a task that will be made all the more daunting by the fact that jazz is made for the most part by individuals, not established institutions with deep pockets.
No, I don’t know how to get young people to start listening to jazz again. But I do know this: Any symphony orchestra that thinks it can appeal to under-30 listeners by suggesting that they should like Schubert and Stravinsky has already lost the battle. If you’re marketing Schubert and Stravinsky to those listeners, you have no choice but to start from scratch and make the case for the beauty of their music to otherwise intelligent people who simply don’t take it for granted. By the same token, jazz musicians who want to keep their own equally beautiful music alive and well have got to start thinking hard about how to pitch it to young listeners—not next month, not next week, but right now.
Developing Jazz and Classical Audiences with Technology
Many of you may remember critic Terry Teachout’s controversial Wall Street Journal article that asked if jazz could “be saved?” Teachout’s article, in response to the NEA’s 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, prompted a variety of reactions across the field. Despite much of the hostility directed at Teachout, his question and concerns seemed to be valid and worth exploring, especially since the survey indicatedthat audiences (particularly for jazz, classical and opera music) were shrinking and growing older at an alarming rate. An interesting twist came in 2010 with the release of the NEA’s Audience 2.0 survey. A key finding in this survey was that Americans who participate in the arts through technology and electronic media (television, Internet, handheld devices) were three times more likely to attend a live arts event. Much like Teachout’s initial article, this survey also prompted a round of discussion about correlation and causation. Despite the controversy and debate, it is undeniable that technology is one of the most promising tools that organizations can use to build a younger fan base.
This white paper explores the role that digital marketing is now playing in building audiences in the jazz and classical music realm. This report also highlights the work of several artists and organizations at the forefront of reaching and developing new audiences online. It’s important to note, however, that most of the organizations and artists here would classify their work and the music they present as a hybrid of multiple genres. Though that distinction falls outside the scope of this report, it’s an important trend to take note of that can have a direct impact on digital marketing. Finally, we have provided a concise 4-step guide as an example of how many organizations actually implement best practices.
We hope that you find each case study in this report to be encouraging and inspiring! Here were a few of the organizations we featured:
- Mobtown Modern: was founded by Brian Sacawa in 2008. This organization fills a void in Baltimore’s vibrant music scene and serves as a catalyst for musical innovation and the creation and presentation of the new music of our time.
- New Amsterdam Records and New Amsterdam Presents: New Amsterdam Records is the for-profit record label subsidiary of New Amsterdam Presents, a presenting and artists’ service organization that supports the public’s engagement with new music by composers and performers whose work grows from the fertile ground between genres.
- Revive Music Group: serves as New York’s leader in conceptual and never-before-experienced live music productions—for a jazz and hip-hop celebration giving a unique aural exhibition of the undercurrents connecting the genres and ultimately fans of multiple generations.
- Search and Restore: is a New York-based organization dedicated to uniting and developing the audience for new jazz music
Online Audience Engagement
Strategies for Developing Jazz and Classical Audiences
Technology in the Arts | www.technologyinthearts.org
Technology in the Arts explores the intersection of arts management and technology to spark dialogue around the role of technology in our planning and programming, share best practices,and provide training in the use of online tools. Our services include consulting, professional development training, webinars, an online resource directory, monthly podcasts, and a discussion-based blog.
Center for Arts Management and Technology | camt.artsnet.org
Technology in the Arts is a series of services from the Center for Arts Management and
Technology (CAMT), an applied research center at Carnegie Mellon University exploring waysin which arts managers can employ online technologies to more effectively meet their
organizational goals and engage audiences.
Introduction: Why Jazz & Classical?
One of the toughest challenges for arts managers, recently, has been the task of engaging younger audiences. As audiences for art forms like classical, jazz, and opera are getting older, studies have indicated that younger generations are not replacing this “dying demographic”. To make matters worse, a 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, released by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), indicated a 5% decline in arts participation across America. Both discouraging trends seem to impact classical and jazz audiences the most. My original intention in completing the research for this white paper was to explore the ways in which jazz and classical musicians were successfully responding to declining audience participation and building a younger fan base. It became apparent that many of these artists are already effectively utilizing technology to reach out to new audiences across all demographics and convert them into loyal fans. It also became apparent that this exciting growth was largely taking place outside the walls of“traditional” arts venues. From nightclubs to lofts, jazz and classical music are reaching audiences in new places.
Arts managers, however, have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into these existing networks and help artists expand their reach and community impact. Artists would also stand to benefit from added career stability and wider recognition. This research, therefore, evolved to focus primarily on how organizations and arts managers can effectively tap into existing audiences for jazz and classical music and develop better strategies for growing audiences by effectively engaging them online. Since there have been a number of studies in recent years on defining best practices for marketing to audiences online, this research will primarily focus on case studies of extraordinary people and organizations who have successfully implemented these best practices. Since jazz and classical specific organizations were impacted the most by this audience decline, I focused primarily on artists and organizations in these categories.
Ultimately, these best practices and case studies can assist any artist, manager or organization of any size, scale and budget.
Social Media Manager
Center for Arts Management and Technology
The “Graying” of Classical and Jazz Audiences
The first signs of trouble came with the 2008 Survey of Public Participation released by the NEA. The survey declared: From 1982 to 2008, audiences for performances in classical music,ballet, non-musical theater and most conspicuously, jazz, have aged faster than the general adult population. The survey offered a variety of explanations for this disturbing trend from a decline in music education as well as regional disparities when it comes to accessing arts opportunities.
The news was especially dire for jazz and classical art forms.
The percentage of adults attending a classical music performance declined from 12% in 2002 to 9% in 2008. Nearly 20% of classical music attendees were 65 or older, which is high relative to most other performing arts. Adults with college or graduate degrees were almost three times more likely than high school graduates to watch or listen to classical music via media, which indicated a relationship between level of education and level of arts participation. Denver Post columnist, Kyle MacMillan, commented on these trends in his article, “Classical Music is Going New Places to Lure New Faces”: The field faces critical challenges today. It must find compelling ways to counter a disastrous confluence of trends: aging ticketbuyers, escalating costs and flagging philanthropy. At the same time, it must deal squarely with increased competition from more musical genres than ever, all accessible online with a couple of touches of a finger. Gone are the days when classical artists could offer high-caliber performances of Mozart and Tchaikovsky and simply expect people to show up. Orchestras, opera companies and presenters must be more entrepreneurial, more risk-ready. Video and Social Media 6 Online Audience Engagement for Jazz and Classical Audiences The numbers were similar for jazz audiences. About 8% of adults attended a jazz performance in 2008, compared with 11% in 2002. The total number of attendees declined from 22.2 million adults in 2002 to 17.6 million adults in 2008, and the total number of attendances to jazz performances declined from 68.8 million in 2002 to 51 million in 2008. More than half of jazz performance attendees in 2008 had a college or graduate degree, which also suggested a strong relationship between education level and arts engagement level.
The highest income groups ($75,000 and over) represented about 48 percent of adults attending jazz performances. Adults ages 45 through 64 were the most likely to attend a jazz performance or concert. Jazz performance attendance among adults 44 and younger declined between 2002 and 2008, especially for the 35 to 44 age group. Compared with people who have only a high school degree, people with college or graduate degrees were nearly eight times as likely to attend a jazz performance. Not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older rather quickly. The median age of adults in America who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. In 1982 it was 29.
The average American now sees jazz as a form of high art...and it’s precisely because jazz is now widely viewed as a high culture art form that its makers must start to grapple with the same problems of presentation, marketing and audience development as do symphony orchestras, drama companies and art museums.
Wall Street Journal
Technology to the Rescue?
News hasn’t been bad for all arts organizations, however. A somewhat encouraging finding was recently published in the latest NEA arts participation survey. The new survey suggests that a person’s age does not necessarily provide a correlation for their level of participation in the arts.
The survey also makes a key distinction regarding how younger demographics engage with art differently from previous generations: Arts participation can be understood as occurring in multiple modes, sometimes overlapping: arts attendance, personal creation and performance, and arts participation through electronic media. From a sociological viewpoint, however, the question can be reframed: does knowing a person’s age or year of birth allow one to more accurately predict his or her level of arts engagement? Age and cohort have a statistically significant — but weak — relationship to different measures of arts participation. Knowing someone’s age or year of birth provides very little power in explaining his or her level of arts participation. In this specific sense, age does not seem to matter. Other influences — educational attainment and gender, in particular — have a much stronger role in explaining arts participation.
The “impending doom” of dying audiences may not be as dire as previously indicated. Younger generations do, in fact, tend to discover and engage with art in different ways than previous generations. Discovering new art forms has never been easier for these demographics with services like YouTube, Pandora, recommendation engines (Netflix and Amazon), and even Google searches. Understanding this psychographic difference is the first step in reversing these discouraging trends. If discovery is, in fact, the main issue as Ted Gioia suggests, arts managers must start using existing channels of discovery to reach new audiences.Technology to the Rescue?
The most likely, indeed the only plausible, explanation for these numbers is that very few new fans have discovered jazz since the 1980s. The old fans continue to follow the music, but teenagers and twenty-somethings have very little interest in jazz.
Audience 2.0 FindingsEven though many arts managers and organizations feel that they are competing against technology for their audience’s attention, recent studies suggest that there is nothing to fear. The NEA’s “Audience 2.0” survey supports the conclusion that technology can lead to greater participation in the arts. Over half of all U.S. adults (53% or 118 million) participate in the arts through electronic and digital media (viewing or listening to an arts performance, creating or posting their own art online, using the internet to view
or listen to live or recorded music, theater or dance performance). The study interestingly indicated that 14.0% of respondents participated in jazz-related arts activities through electronic or digital media while 17.8% did so for classical music.
Another important finding was that people who engaged with art through media technologies attended live performances or arts exhibits at two to three times the rate of non-media participants. The survey seems to indicate that technology can help to address the major issues of discovery and performance attendance. These findings provide an important starting point for designing effective online engagement programs.
Video and Social Media Arts participation through media appears to encourage -rather than replace– live arts attendance. There is a strong relationship between media arts participation and live arts attendance, personal arts performance and arts creation.
-Audience 2.0 Survey
THE BIG PICTURE: If there is a positive correlation between engaging with art through
media technologies and attending live performances, then it is well worth the time and effort to build an online presence!
Tipping the Culture Findings
A recent study commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre expanded on the ‘Audience 2.0’ findings and provided a framework for engaging younger generations (specifically Generation Y or Millennials) online. The report emphasized that “Millennials are not all created equal” and stressed the importance of having a strategy prior to launching new social media or online marketing efforts. As a point of reference, it’s important to note that the Generation X (Gen Xers) and Generation Y (Millennials) demographic cover those people born from 1965-2000. Though many argue that the Millennial demographic is most affected by technology, it’s important to include Gen Xers in this discussion as all NEA participation studies have also indicated an overall declining level of participation among the Gen Xer demographic. Here is the framework provided in the study:
1. The brand is no longer at the center of the universe: the user is. Keeping the customer or user in mind ultimately changes many aspects of the decision-making process, most notably the types of content an organization distributes through its social media channels or website.
2. Have something meaningful to say: The study indicated that Millennials respond to experiences and content that is emotionally intense and genuine. A great example of content that provides a unique experience would be a ‘behind-the-scenes’ video series or a podcast interview series.
3. Help them belong to the brand: Creating online content and experiences that help Millennials belong to a community is another important theme in this study. Examples of this would be: soliciting and responding to their reviews and comments, inviting guest Millennial bloggers, featuring participants’ Flickr feeds on the brand website, posting videos made or showcasing Millennials, creating fan pages on Facebook.
Ultimately, the study seemed to suggest that organizations must strategize about the type of online content it distributes as much as the channels this content will be distributed through. Any type of content (blog posts, podcasts, videos) that is distributed online should ultimately help fans to feel that they are part of an exclusive
THE BIG PICTURE: Blog posts, pictures, podcasts, and other types of online content should help younger audiences feel that they are part of an exclusive community.
The Tangled Web: Social Media In The Arts
Theatre Bay Area also recently commissioned an extremely valuable digital audience engagement study.
This study examined the social media habits of over 200 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and produced helpful guidelines for organizations seeking to have the largest possible impact with their social media campaigns. Here were a few interesting findings:
• Facebook Pages that update multiple times a day, use a custom URL, and feature a Welcome tab have more fans and a higher rate of engagement than those who do not.
• Twitter accounts that tweet more than 4x per day, and do not link to their Facebook feed, have more followers and a higher rate of engagement than those who tweet less often, or sync their Facebook posts to Twitter
• Arts organizations blogging on a self-hosted platform, at least twice per week, have more subscribers and comments per post than those who post less frequently, or on a non-branded URL, but overall there is very little engagement
• YouTube channel owners that upload new video more than 1x per week have more subscribers and views per video than those who upload less
If arts organizations want to reach their traditional audience, they can find a substantial portion of them on social networks. If they want to build new audiences, it’s nearly certain they MUST connect with them online.
The Tangled Web Research Report
The report indicated that even though most arts organizations still struggle with how to connect in a genuine and authentic way with audiences online, they are still active on at least one social network, which is certainly an encouraging trend! All of these valuable research efforts have adequately demonstrated the importance of having an active and engaging presence online. the following sections will pull many of these guidelines together and highlight case studies of organizations who are effectively implementing these best practices.
THE BIG PICTURE: Being ACTIVE on social media accounts is key to engaging
Strategies for Online Audience Engagement and Development
Though numerous studies and research projects have outlined guidelines and best practices for effective use of social media and digital marketing campaigns, it was impossible to include all of them in this report. After examining the data from most of these studies, common themes begin to emerge. Strategically producing content that is engaging, and ALOT of it seem to be the “magic formula” for captivating audiences online. What exactly is engaging content, though? What does engaging content look like in the jazz and classical realm? And how can organizations ensure that those engaging with their online content will become loyal audience members?The following guidelines were developed as suggestions for identifying what type of content is engaging and how to follow up with new audiences reached onliine. Each guideline is accompanied by detailed case studies of jazz and/or classical focused artists and organizations who are leaders in the field.
1. Define Your Target Audience
2. Create as Much Unique and Engaging Content as Possible
3. Get this Content to your Target Audience
4. Build your ‘Digital Tribe
1. Define Your Target Audience
One of the most valuable guidelines presented by the Tipping the Culture study was that the USER is the center of the universe, not your brand! Your target audience, specifically your target customer, must be at the center of online engagement campaigns. Unfortunately, many organizations have designed online campaigns and even programming that cater to the profile of Gen Xers and Millennials, in general. Whether it’s creating
a Facebook page, launching a Twitter stream, booking “younger” musicians, or allowing audiences to tweet during performances, these actions fail to reach a target audience because they are too generic. Jazz and classical musicians who are reaching new fans began with a specific person in mind and recognize specific characteristics and listening preferences that their fans have.For example: an organization that presents classical music may find that they are most interested in diversifying their college student audience. After conducting an initial round of market research, this organization may find that its current college student demographic is mainly coming from one or two traditional music conservatories in the neighboring area. This demographic is very familiar with the composers and works that are featured in the organization’s season while students outside of the conservatory environment are not as
familiar. Hiring a “young” composer to attract “younger” audiences would not be an effective solution, since students in the target market are somewhat unfamiliar to the genre overall. An organization that presents jazz music may also find that their current student population is largely coming from those enrolled in a jazz studies program at a nearby university. They are faced with the same challenges as the classical presenting organization, since their target market is largely unfamiliar with the genre of jazz.While music education programs are often the most effective at bridging this gap, many organizations have f
ound creative ways to reach out to new audiences.
2. Create as much Unique and Engaging Content as Possible
Prior to setting out on an extensive social media or email list building campaign, it is also important to take a moment and develop a strategy for what types of content will be distributed throughout these channels. Creating unique and engaging content for distribution on digital channels (both websites and social media profiles) can be an encouraging sign to visitors that your organization offers a unique experience and can also increase the likelihood of them re-engaging with you in the future. Ann Handley, Chief Content Office of MarketingProfs and entrepreneur, C.C. Chapman recently published a very helpful, in-depth guide for creating this type of online content. The book, Content Rules, defines content as: a broad term that refers to anything created and uploaded to a web site: the words, images, tools or other things that reside there.
After you have carefully defined your target audience, take a moment to think about what types of content would be more likely to engage these potential audiences. A downloadable mixtape would clearly be most appropriate for generating interest in a music event. A video campaign, however, could be appropriate for promoting almost any type of art event. Mixtapes, podcasts and videos are all, by nature, highly interactive and engaging. Ultimately, social media and content distributed via social media channels is best used when it initiates a conversation: As online marketing professional, Perry Marshall says, “Facebook is more ike a coffee shop and Google like the Yellow Pages.” Marshall’s statement also re-iterates the research findings mentioned earlier. People are looking for unique experiences online that will help
them feel part of a community.
3. Distribute Engaging Content to your Target Audience
Now that you have clearly defined your target audience and have created a variety of unique and engaging content, it’s time to make sure that it gets to the right people! The following examples are a few ways in which an organization can direct targeted traffic to websites and social media pages.
Strategic Online Partnerships
The “Paris Philly Lockdown” event mentioned earlier gained significant buzz after participating musician, Questlove, posted details of the project on his Twitter profile (with over 1 million followers, it’s no wonder!) The campaign was also discussed on popular music blog, Okayplayer. Most artists are more than happy to assist with promoting their projects to Facebook fans, Twitter followers and email lists. One way to maximize the impact of these types of partnerships is to provide your promotional partners with a URL that will direct visitors to a special website in order to capture their email addresses. This specialized website is often referred to as a “landing page” in the online marketing world and will be discussed further in the next section.
Facebook Ad Campaigns
Facebook ad campaigns are another resource that can be fairly effective in reaching a target audience.
Facebook’s ad creation process allows for marketers to specify, to a very precise detail, who they want viewing their ads. If your target audience is 18 year old females who live in Cleveland, Ohio and are fans of the television show, Glee, it is quite possible to design an ad campaign that will show your message exclusively to that demographic. Facebook will also estimate how many people you will be able to reach with the parameters you specify in the initial setup phase. It is imperative that the landing pages for these ad campaigns are properly set up too. For more information on developing a successful Facebook Ad Campaign, refer to our earlier article, here: http://www.technologyinthearts.org/?p=1600
4. Build Your Digital Tribe
We’ve clearly defined our target customer, designed some appealing content to engage them, and are actively campaigning to bring them to our website and social media properties. Now its time to bring the process full circle and invite them to become part of our digital community. As Handley and Chapman indicate, “the point of creating killer content [is] to convert buyers and customers into regulars or (better yet) rabid fans, ambassadors and advocates.” (Content Rules, 7)
Targeted List Building
One of the most powerful tools for gauging how effective your online engagement strategy is closely monitoring the health of your email list. Targeted list building can also help you to further engage with your audience. The first step in developing a highly targeted email list is getting the right people onto this list.
Offering your target audience incentives to be a part of your email list (downloadable mixtapes, exclusiveinterviews, exclusive music videos, contests) is perhaps the best way to get the right types of people onto your list.
Perhaps the most successful way to exchange this content for an email address and start building your list is to set up a landing page. A landing page is traditionally the web page that is displayed after someone has clicked on an advertisement (Facebook ads, Google ads, etc.) and its purpose is to convert those who have clicked through into paying customers. There is often sales copy in the form of either text or video on this
page. Landing pages do not have to be set up in order to sell products, however. They are usually most effective when there is free content available for download.
A recent Emerging Practice Seminar, hosted by the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center, emphasized the importance of the ‘engagement arc’. Your goal in maintaining a healthy email list is to refrain from over-selling your list. Only reaching out to your list to promote ticket sales is one of the quickest ways to alienate your online audience. Be sure to strike a fair balance between offering free, valuable content and selling tickets or products. A great example of content that is highly appropriate for engaging email list subscribers is a digital newsletter. The newsletter could contain a collection of blog posts
from the previous month or it could include exclusive content. Many artists and organizations have also had success with ticket giveaways and other contests that are exclusive to list subscribers.
Launching Participatory Experiences
Finally, online participatory experiences can also be particularly effective in engaging audiences and help to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to building communities. In ‘Tipping the Culture’, research indicated that inviting guest bloggers from your target audience, responding to comments on social media channels, and posting videos created by fans, are all great ways to get audiences to be active participants in your brand.
BONUS SECTION: The Art of Crowdfunding
Many organizations, unfortunately, find it challenging to include these types of music projects and experiments into their programming. Crowdfunding could be an option for arts managers and organizations looking to raise funding in order to shoot a dynamic video series or even to revamp a website. For a detailed description of crowdfunding, be sure to read through this very helpful crowdfuning wiki: http://crowdfunding.pbworks.com/w/page/10402176/Crowdfunding
One of the most dramatically inspirational crowdfunding stories is Adam Schatz’s Kickstarter campaign.
Schatz is the founder of New York-based jazz presenting organization, Search and Restore. He set out to raise $75,000 via crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, with the intention of using the funds to film 200 concerts in New York and post them to the Search and Restore website. The campaign was a resounding success and ultimately raised $76,000 in funds for the project.
The campaign was overwhelmingly successful due to a variety of factors:
- Effective networking: Schatz is well known within the artist scene and most of his friends who are artists created a word-of-mouth campaign around the project by sending out emails to their list of fans. Yet another example of how email lists can be valuable!
- Compelling argument: the project’s crowdfunding webpage greeted visitors with an engaging video to greet visitors. The video explained the need for this project and how funding would be used.
-Exclusive rewards: Schatz was also very strategic in designing rewards for certain levels of pledges. Once again, the artists in the community rallied together to offer rewards like: private lessons, exclusive recordings, T-shirts, and even dinner!
Conclusion: Putting the Pieces Together
Digital marketing and social media can both be powerful tools for taking audience engagement and audience development to the next level. Like any other marketing tools, there should always be a comprehensive level of planning and strategy put into place prior to usage. The underlying theme in each case study was developing a clear picture of the target patron and designing a content creation strategy to engage this person. Another interesting finding in most of the case studies was that many organizations specifically designed these projects with the goal of engaging younger audiences. Unfortunately, this task of engaging younger audiences seems overwhelming to many arts managers, yet research and in-field practice have indicated that this process is not as daunting and intimidating as it may seem.All of the organizations and artists listed in each case study have pushed the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to reaching and engaging new audiences online. All of these organizations have also managed to build a younger audience demgographic and continue to grow their fanbase. Both classical and jazz music are, indeed, reaching new audiences. It is the responsibility of arts managers to build on this encouraging trend and continue to preserve the rich legacy of both artforms.
Technologyinthearts:Online audience engagement