Monday, December 2, 2013

Detroit Symphony Broadcasts

Acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin wrote in the Huffington Post this week about marketing efforts of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since its 2010 strike. The strike lasted for six months, during which Maestro Slatkin says that many people assumed the fall of DSO was just another casualty in Motor City. However, several efforts by the orchestra have created a path for renewed interest in the organization. 

First, he describes the efforts the DSO has taken in broadcasting their concerts - both online and on public television. This creates a wider audience, which includes people who may not even know the orchestra exists. The word "audience," he says, has changed. "No longer does it consist of just those people who come to Orchestra Hall, but it now includes music lovers in homes, hospitals and even automobiles." Slatkin even likens the new efforts of the DSO to national broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic on Sundays.

By broadcasting concerts, the orchestra is able to provide more for listeners than they would get if they came to a live performance. Mainly, the article mentions that they can broadcast interviews with composers and musicians between pieces; they can also include voiceovers about the music on the program.  

I think these initiatives are a good idea and seem to have success, since the organization has recently invested in robotic cameras, which will allow for a larger variety of angles for their broadcasts. I do have further questions, though. With the broadcasts in place, I wonder what their changes in marketing have been -- how do they get people to tune in? Do they advertise live concerts as much as broadcast concerts? Does the live streaming cost money to watch? Further, have ticket sales gone down since the broadcasts started? 


Scott Harrison, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra said...
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Scott Harrison, Detroit Symphony Orchestra said...

Hi Kyle, thanks for writing about our Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts. To answer your questions briefly:

1. We use a mixture of digital advertising and social media promotion to build our webcast audience. We also maintain and communicate with a growing list of regular webcast "attendees" and we cross promote the webcasts on some of our existing print marketing collateral in the Detroit market. Finally, we work to attract new audiences through partnerships with co-distributors like and other arts and culture organizations.

2. We spend only a fraction advertising webcasts as we do live concerts, and we devote less staff time to promoting webcasts as well. Partially that's because we tend to work exclusively in less expensive mediums like digital, but also because there's less web product and because it doesn't generate the revenue that our live concerts do. (And a lot of the revenue generated is on the contributed revenue side, so we do spend meaningful time working with our funders and donors.)

3. Our live concert streams are currently free. We are developing paid models for encore/archive viewing in the future, but we haven't launched anything just yet.

4. Ticket sales have continued to increase in the three years since we've launched webcasts and anecdotally we hear from a number of concert subscribers who enjoy the webcasts in addition to their live DSO experience.

I encourage everyone to check out the schedule of upcoming webcasts at


Scott Harrison
Executive Producer of Digital Media, Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Scott Harrison, Detroit Symphony Orchestra said...
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