Growing the audience for classical music
People have been claiming that classical music is dying for hundreds of years now, and yet, the art form persists. However, we should still be concerned: the National Endowment for the Arts reported that in 2012, only 8.8% of Americans had attended a classical music performance in the previous 12 months, compared to 11.6% a decade earlier. Clearly, the big problem facing nearly every organization is how to attract younger audience members.
Orchestras and opera companies have been trying everything: last-minute tickets (appealing to impulsive young folks), shorter concerts, later start times, unusual venues and “taster” experiences, where people can drop in and out at their leisure. They've also embraced 21st-century technology to provide online streaming of live concerts, allowing theatres to reach out to far-away audiences.
One of the newest trends is to bring social media right into the concert hall. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has offered "tweet seats" from which patrons can carry on digital conversations during concerts. Opera Omaha, the San Francisco Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Dayton Opera have all tried this as well. Advocates say these efforts could help make concerts feel more welcoming and interactive; skeptics wonder if social media and other technology will become a distraction.
How can the classical music industry attract a younger crowd without alienating its core audience?