Recession trends in classical music

Posted on: June 8, 2009

Monday (6/8) on Bloomberg.com, Norman Lebrecht writes about classical music’s resilience during recessions. “In the 1930s and the war that followed, audiences swelled and new musical ensembles were born. In 1937, reading the public mood at the depth of depression, the NBC radio network created a national orchestra for Arturo Toscanini to conduct. Twenty million Americans tuned in to its inaugural concert and the early recordings outsold those of Frank Sinatra. … So, is the classical effect repeating itself in a credit-crunch universe? Early soundings show strong responses in Europe and Asia, more cautious ones in the U.S. … ‘One change that we have noticed in the current economic environment,’ Clive Gillinson, [Carnegie Hall’s] executive and artistic director, says in an interview, ‘is that our single-ticket buyers are delaying their purchases, waiting longer to buy tickets, looking for discounts and deals. We are early in our subscription campaign for next season, and indicators show that we are retaining numbers of patrons, but they are opting for smaller packages.’ … What sells are the big events with heavy marketing support. Carnegie Hall played to full capacity for all 10 concerts of a complete Mahler cycle with Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, while the Kennedy Center sold 92 percent of seats for a three-week festival of Arab arts.”

Posted June 8, 2009