More ASS in clASSical – Unexplain This!

So I’m late in getting to the widely panned Philly marketing campaign Unexpect Yourself.  Now to their credit it has created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere but whether it translates into sales and repeat business….well time will tell.  What marketing in general seems to lack is creating a connection to relevancy with this and many other tag lines going for a just try it kind of E Harmony vibe.  There is an incredible study out there that marketers should take note of that is not sexy but is relevant and might change the philosophy of sending out the message into sending out the messenger(s)…..

Drew’s Feb 11 Adaptistration post on Philly is all about relevance and direct contact and how it is sorely lacking with their approach.  I would only add that in fact two statements in their copy are at best confusing, and at worst just incorrect!

To stay relevant, you must embrace new ideas and new things.

Firstly, it is not up to an audience to be relevant to an orchestra, it is up to us to be relevant to them! An orchestra is neither a new idea or a new thing, and if the word “current” was used instead of relevant it would then make more sense but it would still come across as “we are current because we are new”….which we are not (they are 110 years old!).  So it is very confusing.    Relevancy is when we become part of their lives, not the other way round.  Then this:

…you have every reason to try something not only new, but extraordinary. So set aside an evening for anything but the same-old-same-old.

Question:  How is it extraordinary?  It is not explained.  Well it must be since we are not giving a first time ticket buyer a discount in this promotion! Same -old, same-old?  So up until now their evenings have sucked because they haven’t yet attended, which comes across as a little arrogant.

Mentioned also are the talented and gifted musicians.  Nothing wrong with that except that would it not be better to approach it as: we want to give that “gift” back to you the audience?  It is always come see us, we are amazing, we can make your life complete etc….Like I have said previously, before you can become special, first you have to become relevant.  It is like asking someone out on a date and saying, you should really come out on date with me, you can pay because I’m so worth it and I will rock your world.  Come to think of it, the Eharmony profile could read:

Self centered and awesome Orchestra is looking for unconditional love and one sided commitment (not our side) before first date.  If not interested then you must be happy with your mundane life but can you send cash anyway?

There was a blog post recently published by Tom Jacobs that reported on three studies regarding creativity at the work place.  It is fascinating and helps to validate the shift that needs to take place to be able to connect to a community and to the people in it.  It questions if the same approach will work for the arts, I believe it will most definitely!  Here are some quotes, I urge you to read the article and the studies linked in it (bold my emphasis):

Creativity is usually thought of as internally motivated — a response to a deeply felt personal urge to challenge convention, push boundaries and explore. But newly published research suggests that, at least in the business world, the link between inspiration and ingenuity is strengthened by focusing on the needs of others.

I have thought this for a long time, and that what we do as artists are skills, not jobs.  The job of a musicians is not to play/sing/conduct etc.. but to touch people’s lives with those skills.  The article questions the application of this idea to the arts and I would hope that similar studies could be done with artists of all types.  I believe that we love applause not because we feel we deserve it, we love it because of the fact we are being appreciated, a human response.  The audience are all human and they like appreciation also.  We too often use our skill to separate ourselves from our audience, instead using it to connect with them.  Here is the money part of this article for me (again bold my emphasis):

Managers typically seek to stimulate creativity by creating conditions that are conductive to intrinsic motivation, such as designing challenging and complex tasks, providing autonomy, and developing supportive feedback and evaluation systems,” they write. But to “facilitate the production of ideas that are creative in context,” they suggest managers “will find it advantageous to create conditions that support prosocial motivation and perspective-taking.”

Two ways to do so, according to Grant, are to “provide opportunities for employees to meet and interact with the people who benefit from their work, such as clients, customers, and other end users,” and to ”provide vivid information and stories from others that communicate the importance of the problem to be solved.”

This is where both musicians and management can unify!  Bottom line in marketing is to find out what people want, rather than telling them what we think they need.  It is never a good approach to try and attract people to you by claiming their lives have been empty without you, it has to be about the desire to make their lives even better and approaching it by inviting, asking and suggesting, not by assuming, commanding and demanding, especially when asking them out on a first date!!!!

7 thoughts on “More ASS in clASSical – Unexplain This!”

  1. I don’t disagree with most of your points, Maestro, but this is promotional writing which is of a certain style. (i.e., you can say “extraordinary” any time you want without having to substantiate it.) Perhaps you are intellectualizing this a bit too much? They’re not implying that an orchestra is “new” — it’s the experience of a novice going to a concert which is new. And I don’t agree that “same old same old” is somehow an insult or putdown.

    So why not lighten up a bit, Maestro? I’m not saying that the Philly campaign is good or bad — I don’t like the Unexpect Yourself tagline myself — but it is an interesting approach to try. Time will tell whether it is successful.

    • Larry
      It is obvious that they are going for brand new people, which is why they use the word “new”, and with probably a 7 figure marketing budget, there needs to be more creativity than just a tag line to attract people! It is not an interesting approach, the let’s come up with something cute, tell the people they are trying to attract that by not coming they are not relevant and don’t know what they are missing etc.. then shrug shoulders and say at least we tried! is “same old, same old”! I don’t like their chances of getting those new $130 ticket buyers!

    • Likewise, it is evident that the organization is courting new ticket buyers. They’ve said exactly that in the Inquirer article which first reported on this. There are plenty of professionals specializing in a number of fields that have cast an equally low opinion on the process and approach, including Amanda Ameer.

      The more we sit back and claim the Emperor is indeed wearing clothes, the longer it will take the business to recover.

  2. I enjoy this blog, in general, and your posting above, in specific. I wonder about one point: I believe that applause is, ultimately, “prosocial motivation and perspective-taking…” But only one form of that perspective-taking. It’s immediate (a virtue).

    I would also suggest one other almost-immediate prosocial step that management could facilitate: encourage audiences to come backstage and require musicians to head to the lobby after every performance.

    Ahem. I doubt that idea will go over with either the musicians or the management.

    I would suggest that one only needs to attend a club date by any rock ‘n roll band: the band members hang out near the merch table, ready to provide an autograph, sip a drink, and chat up the “patrons.”

    • I couldn’t agree more, personal interaction is vital, how many times have we all attended something because we know someone who is either going or performing? Here we started a tradition for the last concert in each season orchestra musicians go out into the lobby prior to the performance to interact and to thank people for attending. Every year each subscriber gets a personalized Holiday card from a musician also, our renewal rate is over 90%, coincidence? I think not!

  3. I absolutely agree with most, if not all, of your statements here. As a singer myself, I find your comments that “what we do as artists are skills, but our job is to touch people with the exercise of our skills” (slightly paraphrased) to be insightful, indeed. I would like to quote you to my students and colleagues, in fact. This is exactly how performing art becomes relevant to people in our lives and communities.

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