Double bassist and blogger John Grillo recently weighed in on his blog classicalmusicnews.tv about a study (commissioned by the Knight Foundation) published several years ago analyzing how Americans relate to their local orchestras and classical music in general. John writes:
The statistic that had an indelible imprint on my mind when I first was aware of this study is that subscribers and single ticket buyers to the symphony are 2 to 4 percent of the population on average. Noting that this is a niche marketplace industry, having a 2-4% market share is a tight spot. This leaves 96% of the population of this country not regularly or even thinking about attending concerts. The classical music industry has a mentality that we are the end all, be all of culture. Music conservatories add to this false belief that the world revolves around our art form. Well, here it is folks. Market share is so important in business and every CEO in the world is obsessed with increasing it. I guess the good news is that if we increase ours by 1%, the effects could be amazing.
Read John’s complete post here.
Drew McManus has also written an extensive analysis of various initiatives from the Knight Foundation. Reading John’s post made me recall a discussion in late 2006 about the Knight Foundation’s Magic of Music program and whether free programs translate into actual increases in ticket sales for paid events and audience subscriptions. Drew theorized that the low conversion rate had more to do with the high average cost of tickets more than lack of audience interest. These issues are critical to the future health of the industry, and I’d like to thank John for bringing up this study in his recent post.