Thursday, October 20, 2005

Of Blindfolded Musicians and Blindfolded Orchestral Adminstrators

"Classic Attitude represents the first real attempt by a major Australian orchestra to create a coordinated marketing mix aimed at satisfying the needs of the 18-35-year-old market.

Much has been made of the [Melbourne Symphony Orchestra] promotion of Classic Attitude in the popular press, for it tackled head-on the traditional image of classical music, addressing the concerns of the younger audience directly. The initial launch [in 1995] of Classic Attitude featured an attractive model, in jeans and singlet, reclining on a pile of sheet music, with the slogan 'Lose yourself in the music'. The 1996 posters were more stylised, featuring a blindfolded violinist with the slogans 'The new sensation' and 'Brace yourself'. These advertisements clearly respond to concerns raised in focus groups, where symphonies were not thought to be as involving an experience as cinemas or other entertainment forms....

In line with the musical programs chosen, the communications focused on the 'experience' of seeing a symphony live, and on the dynamics of a large orchestra working together. The desired elements were all present, with the advertisements not only gaining attention, but more importantly illustrating the intention of MSO to innovate and be unconventional. The subtle sadomasochistic imagery of the blindfolded musicians also served to suggest an excitement not usually associated with the staid world of classical music....

In 1998, the Classic Attitude promotions moved away from psychedelic bright images towards a more sophisticated look. Such a move reinforced the unique benefits of the symphony, rather than positioning it directly against other pop culture events such as rock concerts. MSO decided to focus on its new chief conductor and artistic director, Markus Stenz, in its promotion. Stenz was not only a talented and world-renowned conductor, but was also young and attractive, making him a perfect focal point for Classic Attitude communications.... One strong trend was the demand for more modern and challenging orchestral pieces, a result of many subscribers having learnt more about the music over the past three seasons. Classic Attitude featured more twentieth-century music in 1998 [!]."

Ruth Rentschler "Innovative Arts Marketing: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra - Targeting Youth Audiences"

The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Towards a Contemporary Orchestral Classicism Beyond Sadomasochism?


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