Monday, May 24, 2010

More Frequent, Small Concerts...Better than Big Concerts?

By Mark T. Burke

Would you rather hold a single concert for 100 attendees, or hold 10 concerts that reached 10 people each?  Forget about the economics of the different events for a minute.  Would a single, large concert or multiple, small concerts offer greater musical impact and social value?

To dive into this topic and share my thoughts, I coined a few new phrases and associated acronyms.

Expansion Of Audience (EOA)
Separate small concerts provide opportunities to reach a broader community. Look at the graphic below.  If a musical organization holds all of its concerts in a single location, the ability to expand the audience is limited.  If we treat every concert as an opportunity to expand our audience, which I believe we should, then it makes sense that we can not do so well if we are firmly grounded in our performance location and hold infrequent, larger scale concerts. The graphic below depicts a concert that may attract 100 people, but notice how the outreach of the event has not reached well into the community. (Please note, I am using a visual diagram to represent the theoretical audience).

Circles of Influence (COI)
Tied to EOA, creating and expanding musical program COI can be incredibly rewarding. Again, with a singular venue/large concert mentality, we limit our ability to harness the power of our COI. COI help us spread the word about how great our musical offerings are by reaching individuals at an intimate level. Performing throughout our communities is really just "bringing the music to the people." To harness COI, musical programs should plan to go on the road, look for a variety of venues in your community, pick different times and days as well as use the talents within the program to provide a wide range of musical experiences.

Social Musical Trends (SMT)
Like many aspects of our lives, Music has been influenced by Social Media. In fact, Social Musical groups have developed over the last 2 years. These groups showcase the real desire of us all to enjoy and share conversations around the music we love.  Think about the large concert venue. These events can be rather impersonal. Most of the organization around the event involves ensuring the audience gets in and out of the concert safely. I can only speak for myself, but the large concerts I've attended have little to do with connecting with peers, performers and musical staff.

Smaller venues provide us the opportunity to add social interaction into the musical event.  By doing so, we increase our COI, which in turn helps us with our EOA efforts.

Summary: As we strive to keep music alive in our schools and in our communities, I believe we have to look closely at our own behavior and move toward innovative approaches to spreading the joy of live music. I believe the days of school programs succeeding by holding 2 concerts a year are past. I see the day of small and large ensembles reaching outward into the community as "here and now," not a vision for the future. I see diverse school programs, giving kids a ton of traditional and non-traditional opportunities as the programs that will thrive and set the trends for us all. Our behaviors including looking at how we can best increase our EOA, harness our COI and use SMT's to ensure music lives on.

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