A local community band, AKA concert band, asked me to help them develop a marketing plan. The reason: they have noticed that their attendance numbers aren’t where they should be, where they have to be, in order for the band to make enough money to pay its bills.
I have done a lot of this type of work in the past, and my undergraduate degree is in communications, with an emphasis on media and advertising. For the last 20 years of my daytime working career, I spent a good chunk of my time developing marketing plans and material for organizations and the programs they had developed. In other words, this work was not a stretch for me. The only thing that taxed me was my neuro problem, so it took me much longer than it would have before I became ill.
My slowness aside, my conversations with the band President shed an interesting light on the struggles of the community band. In speaking with the man, it became very clear that the average age of the audience member is 65+.
In some ways this makes a lot of sense. If I think back to my days with the various community bands I played in when I was in junior and senior high school, the music we played was, well, concert band stuff.
Our changing culture and pop culture, and how those effect community bands
If you ever took high school band you know what I mean about concert band stuff. Now back in the stone age when I was in a few different community bands—the late 1970s and early 1980s—our culture was much different.
We didn’t have blended families in the numbers like we have today. Parents weren’t running one kid from band rehearsal; to soccer practice; to ballet; to Girl Guides, while at the same time picking up their other kid from football practice, and dropping him off at his other parent’s house—with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a frozen, pre-prepared meal for dinner.
Ah yes, things were slightly simpler for parents back a few decades ago, and this simplicity also applied to entertainment. We didn’t have the choices that we have now when it comes to entertainment. At the time, if a family had cable they were doing well. Now we are more connected to every kind of entertainment, through every kind of device, than anyone would have thought possible 35 years ago.
In addition to the technological advances of the last four decades, our society’s tastes in popular consumables like music, television, and movies has changed as well. Leaving behind the rather fruitless debates like: popular music is awful; or modern movies are too violent; or my favourite: in a 1000 channel TV universe, there’s nothing worth watching anymore, the fact is, our society’s view of what constitutes entertainment has changed radically over the past three to four decades.
By now you might be scratching your head wondering what does this have to do with a marketing plan for a concert band. Actually quite a bit, because this shift in popular culture means that what society defines as “good” entertainment has shifted over the past few decades.
Those born during the Generation X and Y eras (1966-1976 and 1977-1994 respectively), have vastly different musical tastes that those of the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1965), and Post War Cohort (1928-1945) before them, and as such, are less likely to be drawn to the sounds produced by the traditional concert band. Needless to say, this potentially has negative attendance consequences for bands who continue to play music like they did four decades ago.
If I think back to who was in the audience when I played in concert bands, and actually enjoyed the music, the people were then middle-aged. Add nearly 40 years to that and we’re looking at people who would be in their 70s today. In other words, traditional concert band music appeals to a demographic that is literally dying off.
So the question becomes: How does a community concert band make itself relevant to today’s audience? It needs to evolve. Like Darwin’s theory of evolution, a band needs to evolve with the times, or face extinction.
If a band has talented players in it that can play other styles of music, then a community band needs to look at different styles of music, different arrangements, different combos of players. These are just a few of things it could do to keep itself fresh and current. Because let’s face it, if you’re not able to remain current, and can’t attract an audience, then it doesn’t matter if you’re a 3-piece jazz band, a 5-piece rock band, or a 35 piece community band, you’ll end up like these guys…
Source: Wikipedia Image by: By BazzaDaRambler
…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info,
you should check it out too.There’s lots there!