“Diverse careers are available to musicians because people worldwide consume huge amounts of music-related products and services every day.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 300
Supply and demand are the fundamental forces that determine prices.
So, for us classical musicians, whether we offer performances, lessons, recordings or whatever, the better we understand supply and demand, the better we’re able to design offerings for which the demand is high and the supply low.
Let’s consider classical concerts and recordings.
The Basics of Supply & Demand
When the supply of a particular product or service exceeds the demand, prices fall.
In the case of music recordings, the supply is now so abundant – especially via streaming services and the Web – that the cost of listening to recordings has plummeted, and few people buy CDs anymore. Even digital downloads are being replaced by streaming.
A generation ago, people would spend sizable amounts to amass collections of physical recordings. Nowadays, we pay little or nothing to access colossal streaming libraries, and we listen to free music across the Internet.
When demand falls, prices also decline.
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, attendance at classical concerts in the U.S. has been dwindling for years. Hence, ticket prices have dropped, and orchestras and concert presenters offer numerous heavily discounted tickets – many have reduced the number of concerts they put on, and some have ceased operations.
Given the bountiful supply of free and almost-free recorded music along with the shrinking demand for classical concerts, musicians who want to sell concert tickets and recordings have to create demand.
How do we do that? Here are 4 key principles to create demand for performances:
- Gain deep understanding of your target audiences (see: Design Thinking for Audience Development)
- Recognize their motivations and barriers to attend concerts, and then trigger their motivations and remove barriers;
- Know your competition for their attention;
- Offer music and events that they’ll recognize as compelling and not readily available.
Even with the supply of classical music being abundant, artists who differentiate themselves by offering high-quality, relevant programs in appealing locations can attract interest. Here are few brief examples.
Examples of Performances that Create Demand
∙ If you aim to attract seasoned classical concertgoers to your performances, including reviewers and people who can readily afford tickets, create programs that break new ground. Start with a potent concept for your program, maybe commission and premiere a new work, and then identify dates when there’s a lull in other concert offerings in particular locations. In those ways, you offer something that’s distinctive and in lower supply.
∙ If your target audience includes young professionals, consider creating concert programs that fit their needs for date nights, and choose venues that offer bar service and opportunities to socialize. Tap low-cost, high-engagement promotional strategies, such as social media, and speak to your audience from the stage rather than mimicking the detached concert presentation that’s the norm in conservatories.
∙ If you want to reach children, you might partner with a non-profit organization such as a children’s museum, seek funding from community foundations, and develop programs that merge fun with learning, as Baltimore’s Occasional Symphony did with their Dr. Seuss Birthday Concerts.
∙ To bring music to disadvantaged audiences and add artistic vibrancy to a community, you could devise one or a series of suitable programs, seek support from local funders, and present numerous free interactive concerts in community locations such as churches or libraries.
∙ If you’d like to connect with veterans and military families, you might compose or commission relevant pieces, arrange historic ones, and access funding sources that serve those populations. A companion recording could also make for a distinctive offering.
In the case of recordings, given the profusion of free music, most classical artists use recordings to build audiences, contribute to their fields and promote their performances rather than earn any significant profit. To create recordings at little to no cost, rising musicians can tap funding sources such as crowdfunding, foundations, and even public agencies to cover production and promotion costs.
Rising Above the Crowd
In sum, the classical music market may seem saturated with supply, but distinctive artists perpetually rise above the crowd and generate demand for their work.
Moreover, performers who develop authentic artistic visions and perform alluring programs not only stand out but also contribute to the advancement of their art forms, making impacts that extend far and wide.
The Musician’s Way provides far-reaching guidelines to advance performance, programming, collaboration and career building skills.
Want additional help to propel your music career? Contact me for coaching via Skype.
3 Traits of Successful Concert Programs
5 Steps to Better Classical Concerts
Design Thinking for Audience Development
Don’t Be a White Egg
Orchestras Contract, Opportunities Expand
Self-Produce Concerts in 8 Steps
© 2018 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © B. Nolan, licensed from Shutterstock