Study: contemporary music not the expected turn-off to single-ticket buyers

Posted on: May 22, 2013

Tuesday (5/21) on the Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs writes, “These are very tough times for America’s orchestras. … Subscriptions—which once provided a reliable funding stream—are declining, with more and more concertgoers opting to buy single tickets. Given those realities, a new analysis of what types of pieces lure people to a concert is of keen interest. In the June issue of the International Journal of Research in Marketing, Wagner Kamakura of Duke University and Carl Schimmel of Illinois State University use a sophisticated model to determine what it is audiences are willing to pay to see. While some of their conclusions are expected, others are most decidedly not. Arguably the most striking: Contemporary music is not the turnoff to ticket-buyers that many conductors and administrators apparently believe. … Kamakura and Schimmel analyzed data from the American Symphony Orchestra League’s [now League of American Orchestras] 2004-05 Orchestral Repertoire Report. It included information on 47 orchestras, all of which had a budget of more than $1.7 million. They compared single-ticket sales with a number of factors. … Schimmel cautions that ‘Subscription ticket sales might show a very different pattern, and indeed there is reason to believe that subscribers have a different opinion of what is “popular,” and also a different attitude toward contemporary music.’ ”

Posted May 22, 2013